Part 2/3: How to "turn on" your superpower
By Grove Higgins D.C.
In our previous post, we explored why fasting can be beneficial. Now, let's dig into what's happening inside your body during a three-day water fast—it's pretty exciting!
Preparing for the Fast: Two Days Before Lift-Off
Setting the stage for success is crucial before you begin your three-day water fast. Start by adopting a lighter diet, fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins while avoiding foods high in fat and sugar. Hydration is critical, so ramp up your water intake to at least 8 cups daily. Mentally prepare yourself by journaling or engaging in mindful activities, and make sure you have a few distractions ready to go, like books or crafts, to keep your mind off food.
Quick Prep Guidelines:
Adopt a lighter diet now: Focus on vegetables and lean proteins. Soups and light meals can help prepare you.
Hydrate: Aim for at least 80-120oz water per day.
Electrolytes: Simply putting a small pinch of salt in water can help make drinking water more palatable. You can also use prepared and flavored electrolytes.
Plan for Distractions: Have activities like walks/hikes, books, puzzles, or crafts at hand.
Gather Supplies: Ensure you have essentials like comfortable clothing and water bottles.
By following these guidelines, you'll ease into your fasting experience, making it more manageable and rewarding.
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First 24 Hours: The Big Shift
Body's Shift from Glucose to Fat for Energy
In the first 24 hours, something magical happens. Your body starts to say “goodbye” to using sugar (glucose) for energy and turns to using your stored fat. Imagine it's like switching from gasoline to solar power for your car—your energy source is cleaner and more efficient.
As this shift happens, your body releases more of the hormone norepinephrine. This hormone makes you feel more alert and focused so don't be surprised if you feel like tackling that project you've been putting off!
The Elephant in the Room: Hunger
The "H-word" scares people: Hunger. Yep, you will feel it, especially in the first 24 hours. Not only is your body used to getting food at regular intervals, but you are going through withdrawal, just like an addict. Most people are addicted to the act of eating and also to the high amounts of sugar and carbohydrates that are plentiful in all our diets. Hunger comes in waves; it’s not a constant, unbearable feeling. You might feel hungry, but then it will pass as you pass into fat burning.
How to Prevent Failure: Tips for the First 24-48 Hours
Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water to help stave off hunger pangs. And consider adding a pinch or salt or electrolytes to some of your water.
Keep Busy: Idle hands are the dieter's enemy. Find a task or hobby to keep your mind off food.
Plan Your Day: Try to fast when you're too busy to think about eating.
Avoid Triggers: Avoid the kitchen or places that tempt you to break your fast.
Day Two: The Cleanup
Day 2 is "spring cleaning" for your body! Your cells start the process of autophagy: cleaning out damaged parts and cells to make room for new, healthier cells.
Hunger Starts to Subside
Now, you may notice hunger decreases. When your body is using blood sugar (glucose) for energy, your body releases adiponectin which triggers hunger in an attempt to keep blood sugar elevated. When your body is busy using your stored fat for energy and not blood sugar, the hormone adiponectin is shut off and so then, so is hunger. Hence, when you start burning fat for energy (ketosis), the level of this hormone drops significantly, thus suppressing appetite.
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Day Three: The Final Stretch
You’re almost there! By now, you may notice you feel lighter and have more energy. This is partly due to your body producing substances called ketones.
Boosting Your Immune System Research shows that fasting for a short period of time can help kickstart your immune system and shift fat-burning into high gear. This means better protection against those annoying colds and pesky pandemics! This is mainly because inflammation becomes suppressed due to the change in energy usage from sugars to fats. The body also becomes more sensitive to insulin and thus uses your blood sugar better, making cellular functions more efficient everywhere.
Increased mental health and cognitive function
The effects on behavior/mental health and cognitive function also start kicking in here. Those effects range from reducing anxiety to improving memory and creativity. Again, ketones from increasing fat use for energy "feeds" the brain in a more controlled manner. Also, the decreased inflammation, as we discussed above, in the brain reduces stress on the cells of the brain, and it functions better.
It might be worth a try!
NEXT ARTICLE: Breaking The Fast: Eating for Continued Success
At the end of three days, your body is doing some amazing things. The days following this fast are essential to “land gently” and keep the effects of these last three days going after you start eating again. There are several ways to do this, but we will discuss this in part 3 of this article series. So, stay tuned and read next week’s post.
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"Fasting: Molecular Mechanisms and Clinical Applications" - Cell Metabolism https://www.cell.com/cell-metabolism/fulltext/S1550-4131(13)00503-2
"The Effect of Fasting on Human Metabolism and Psychological Health" - NIH https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8754590
"Metabolic Effects of Intermittent Fasting" - Annual Review of Nutrition https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev-nutr-071816-064634
Jensen NJ, Wodschow HZ, Nilsson M, Rungby J. Effects of Ketone Bodies on Brain Metabolism and Function in Neurodegenerative Diseases. Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Nov 20;21(22):8767. doi: 10.3390/ijms21228767. PMID: 33233502; PMCID: PMC7699472 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7699472
Srivastava S, Pawar VA, Tyagi A, Sharma KP, Kumar V, Shukla SK. Immune Modulatory Effects of Ketogenic Diet in Different Disease Conditions. Immuno. 2023; 3(1):1-15. https://doi.org/10.3390/immuno3010001
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