The human optimisation series – 8 days fasting

I’ve been experimenting with fasting for almost 10 years but until recently I had never successfully completed a full fasting protocol and I just finished a 5 day water fast followed by 3 days of consuming only broth (vegetable broth first then elk bone broth) and I feel compelled to share my experience with you because I can say without exaggeration that it has revolutionized my life.

I feel as though I’ve been given an entirely new lease on life, like a different person or more accurately like the me I was always wishing I was and knowing I could be. I’ll quickly explain how this came about, I decided in 2018 I was going to do an entire health overhaul, I had been steadily moving towards a healthier and healthier lifestyle for years and feeling incrementally better but would constantly let bad habits slowly, one-by-one, work there way subtly back into my life and I’d feel myself feeling a bit crap again.

So to kick off the year, my wife and I did dry January, which for us was abstaining completely from alcohol and coffee for the month. (I still had a green tea and an occasional black tea.) During that period we worked out hard and regularly, sat in a dry sauna 4-7 times per week for 15-60 minutes, and took a myriad of health supplements. We ate a pretty low-carb, high-fat, high protein diet during this period. Well, the end of January was coming around and I felt awesome but I still didn’t have that edge, that drive, and confidence that I had felt in the past. I just felt like I needed a reset so I decided after we celebrated my wife’s birthday on February 1st, the weekend that immediately preceded it, that I would do a prolonged fast. Just as long as I could possibly make it. My goal was at least 3 days.

February 1st fell on a Thursday, so on the 1st, 2nd, and most of the 3rd I hedonistically binged on pizza, chips, a burger, birthday cake, a burrito, and a healthy dose of beer to wash that all down. Then at just before 8 PM on Saturday the 3rd of February I enjoyed my last supper of a bag of ‘Four Cheese’ Gardetto’s and an Organic Rockstar Energy Drink. (I know, I know, but the looming prohibition sent me into a weak feeding frenzy.) This is how the following week panned out and an explanation of some of the amazing benefits I experienced, the expected as well as the completely mind-blowing transformation that came as a total surprise.

Sunday, Day 1

  • Not eating fairly easy because of hedonic binge it felt good to go without food.
  • Did 30 minutes of HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) & had a 30 minutes dry sauna after exercise.
  • Consumed water with a couple tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in the sauna, had a Pau D’Arco bark tea before bed, and a pinch of Himalayan pink sea salt in my water.
Dry Sauna

Monday, Day 2

  • Pretty hungry when I woke up, really craving sugary, bad foods as my blood sugar begins to plummet.
  • Have a Green Tea with a teaspoon of raw, organic, grass-fed milk, and a spurt of coconut flavored stevia to ward off appetite enough to make it through the morning.
  • Do a pretty heavy leg day at the gym, followed by Foundation Training (a lower back strengthening program invented by Dr. Eric Goodman, highly recommend for anyone with low back pain).
  • 30 minutes dry sauna.
  • Intense desire to eat after gym, everything stimulates some sort of association that triggers a vivid dream of eating some delicious food.
  • To get away from it all, my wife, Jade and I drive an hour into the mountains at around noon to a little hot springs that’s out of cell service, away from any venue that offers food of any sort and that is nestled up at 6,000 feet of elevation in the granite mountains and pine forests of the Rocky Mountains. This particular set of two pools are just a few hundred feet off the road next to an icy, snowmelt creek and are free to use as they were built on public lands. Easy, place to not worry about eating.
  • Took a medium range dose of LSD (50-65 ug) in conjunction with some local wild-harvested Lion’s Mane mushroom capsules (to stimulate neurogenesis) from Woodland Wildcraft. I periodically microdose (taking sub perceptual doses of psychoactive substances such as LSD, Psilocybe Mushrooms, or DMT) to enhance creativity and cognitive performance. 50-65 micrograms are very much in the perceptual range. A microdose would be more like 10-15 ug.
  • Soaked for 3 ½ hours with a range of other hot spring lovers coming and going from our pool. We would periodically hop out of the sandy bottomed, 104 degrees Fahrenheit pool, into scarcely above freezing creek next to it for a meditative cooldown.
  • On the way home filled up two 6 gallon brewing carboys with fresh unfiltered spring water from the source to fuel the body properly during fast.
  • Consume about 2 grams of Himalayan pink sea salt along with between about 3 gallons of water throughout the day.
  • That night, I’m starving and drained from all the temperature fluctuation, I have a terrible nights sleep, growling belly, mild headache from what seems like low blood pressure, and strange dreams.
Hot springs in nature. Photo by Brandon young.

Tuesday, Day 3

  • Wake up groggy and exhausted, physical exertion becomes a real effort.
  • Have a huge cup of Green Tea with stevia and 2 teaspoons of raw milk.
  • Went to work for 7 hours, building a dock by the lake which involved a lot of trekking through snow and carrying heavy stuffs.
  • After work, 45 minutes dry sauna and stretch at the gym.
  • Relaxing evening, reading, and drinking chamomile and lavender herbal tea.
  • Begin noticing that I am feeling a lot of intense emotions and mood swings despite feeling quite meditative most of the time.
  • Have not gone more than 3 minutes all day without a vivid daydream of consuming food, but rather than obsessing over bad food, I began to transition to wanting nourishing healthy foods.
  • Another terrible nights sleep, wrought with strange dreams.
Green tea is my only intake. Photo by Nikita Kachanovsky

Wednesday, Day 4

  • Go to work and feel physically slow, but mentally a lot clearer than before, and the desire to eat had diminished ENORMOUSLY.
  • I feel really empty and skinny like all the belly fat has just vanished off my body and the love handle have tightened right up.
  • As the day went on, a really strange change began to occur, rather than imagining eating food I began to fantasize about picking out, preparing, and cooking food. About serving it to other people and talking about it with them. The desire for sugary foods and junk foods was completely overpowered by the desire for nourishing foods. My body started telling me what it wanted, what it needed from me for the first time in my life. All I could think about was the process. Picking it out from the store, chopping it up, cooking it, serving it and the thought of eating became a sort of act of love and compassion towards my body, rather than a desire to satisfy an urge. It was a REALLY weird shift in my thinking that was completely unexpected and uncultivated.
  • That evening I became extremely sedentary, super relaxed and indifferent to most things, and even committing to standing up and going to the bathroom took 3-5 minutes of willpower.

Thursday,  Day 5

  • Woke up relaxed and physically tired but felt great.
  • The craving to eat was almost entirely gone, still a back of the mind desire, but no mentally consuming craving if you know what I mean.
  • Went to work for a few hours and felt like I was just floating through my day, calm, quiet-minded and content. There were periodic bouts of almost complete euphoria born out of a deep sense of gratitude and appreciation for everything around me and the life I have been fortunate enough to live.
  • After work I went home and performed a coffee enema. Yup, you heard me correctly I drank a cup of coffee with my bum. If you haven’t tried it doesn’t knock it. It’s actually a great thing to do while fasting, as you have effectively shut down your digestive system it’s good to clear out whatever is left and the coffee actually stimulates and cleanses your liver a little.
  • Went to the gym and had over an hour long sauna session.
  • When I got home I decided it was time to unceremoniously break the water portion of the fast 4 hours before the official five day hour with some fresh, homemade veggie broth.
  • Single best tasting liquid that has ever graced my tongue. Had one bowl at about 4 PM and another at 7;30 PM or so.
  • That night I slept like the dead.

Friday, Day 6

  • Woke up feeling pretty rejuvenated, still a bit effortful to get about, but I went outside barefoot in the snow, looked into the sun rising over the mountains and did some jumping to wake me up and I felt totally charged for the first time since Sunday afternoon.
  • Had only a bit of plain green tea and then went and had a long sauna.
  • When I got back home around noon, I had a small bowl of vegetable broth.
  • At 3:30 PM I had a small bowl of a 1:1 mixture of veggie broth and homemade fresh elk bone broth. And then that became the single best liquid to ever hit my lips and grace my tongue.
  • Almost immediately after consumption, I got a massive surge of physical and mental energy. It was the first time in a couple of months that I felt excited and compelled to write rather than feeling like it was a chore. A flood of ideas began filling my brain and I was overwhelmed with an enormous surge of optimistic excitement for the future.
  • I went to my night job making snow at a little mom and pop ski resort near my house (Tamarack Resort) and the feeling continued throughout my shift and I sunk into bed at 2 AM having to force my mind to be calm and stop concocting plans.
Snow groomer

Saturday, Day 7

  • Woke up pretty early so was a bit groggy, but some cold snow on the feet, sun on the face, mountains in the eyes, crisp air in lungs, and green tea in the belly solved that right-quick.
  • Went to the gym and did a pretty solid chest workout and foundation training. Working out was still pretty hard even though I felt stronger than the day before, had to build up and then execute quickly and could only use about 60-65% of the weight I would normally use and was totally shot after a shorter workout than usual.
  • Long sauna, lots of meditative breathing, my mind was quieter than it had been in a very long time.
  • Had a bowl of veggie/bone broth mix mid-afternoon and another at work at around 9.
  • The desire to eat had basically entirely disappeared, I felt as though I could live on broth forever.

Sunday, Day 8 (Excerpt from my journal on the day itself)

“I’ve been more than seven full days without any solid food and I honestly feel as though I could easily do another 7 on just broth quite happily, but I have a full week of work, many ambitions, and want to get back to training hard so I think I will end the fast today after a workout.”

“I woke up at 8 AM and at around 9.30 AM I partially broke my fast by having a cup of organic single origin coffee in a sort of ‘Bulletproof’ style by making it in a French press and then putting it in a blender with 1 ½  tablespoons of grass-fed, organic butter, and a big teaspoon of coconut oil. It was my first experience with this and I was pleasantly surprised it is frothy and delicious, almost like a thick latte, and it definitely packed a cleaner punch than the traditional milk in the coffee which apparently prevent the beneficial effects of the polyphenols in coffee.

I sipped my coffee in between stretching and breathing exercises in my yoga room. I felt/feel more happy, clear-headed and driven than I have in a long time. The underlying sense of worry and anxiety had just vanished. I did this fast for the physiological benefits, the fat loss, the increased insulin sensitivity, the metabolic boost, the ketosis, to give my heavily used and abused digestive system a break, for my mitochondrial health, and to promote autophagy (the recycling of used and damaged tissues and cells.)

But the most pronounced, surprising, profound and beneficial bonus has been a total transformation in how I feel about food. I feel like my entire relationship with it has changed. I have a deep urge to find, procure and cultivate my own food. To fish, hunt, and garden. I want to process it, the butchering, the drying, the canning, the fermenting, I want to know it and feel and then I want to eat it. That all used to feel like work that had to be endured. It’s really hard to explain but it seems like the important bit all of a sudden. It’s like what gives eating its meaning and reward rather than just the satiating of appetite and pleasurable tastes.

I’ve been waging a battle with food addiction and obsession my entire life and didn’t even really recognize it was happening.

It’s strangely liberating and to be honest I’m completely taken aback by it. I didn’t know I had a particularly unhealthy relationship with food but it appears I certainly did. It really feels as though a weight has been lifted, food doesn’t seem like a thing to just satisfy me, it feels like an ally. I finally get what people mean when they say let your food be your medicine.

For my entire life it has been a poison and now I see it as the gateway to a sharper mind, a stronger body and a way to regulate and control emotions.

I honestly feel as though I’ve found myself again and would implore anybody who wants to live a healthy, happy, fulfilling life to just double down and commit to a fasting protocol. Yeah, maybe you fail at 12 hours the first time, make it 24 hours a couple times after that, two days eventually, but all of that still has enormous health benefits and the journey to optimizing your life is a process and enjoying and recognizing the process itself is the first step.”

I ended the fast with some lightly steamed broccoli, cauliflower, and kale. It was a bit heavy on the guts but flooded me with yet another huge surge of energy, strength, and optimism. I ate exclusively steamed vegetables and broths for another day, then incorporated light salads in after that. Moving forward I’ll stick to a completely plant-based diet for a week or two and slowly reintroduce foods to see what works best for me. Tweaking my diet to optimize for cognition, energy levels, mood, strength and endurance. I’ll stick to a heavily plant-centered diet, with only slow carbs, and all by the majority of my protein in the form of wild meat and eggs from local pastured chickens.

It really does all start with what you put in your body, and what you put in should be made with love and compassion and a deep desire to feed and nourish the vessel that allows your mind to create whatever it can imagine.

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