Phases of an Extended Fast

From a Facebook group:

What happens to your body when you fast for 30 days.‬

‪Detoxification Stage 1 (Day 1 To Day 2)‬

‪On the first day of fasting, the blood sugar level drops. The heart slows and blood pressure is reduced. Glycogen is pulled from the muscle causing some weakness. The first wave of cleansing is usually the worst. Headaches, dizzinessnausea, bad breath, and a heavily coated tongue are signs of the first stage of cleansing. Hunger can be the most intense in this period.‬

‪Detoxification Stage 2 (Day 3 To Day 7)‬

‪Fats, composed of transformed fatty acids, are broken down to release glycerol from the glyceride molecules and are converted to glucose. The skin may become oily as rancid oils are purged from the body. People with problem-free skin may have a few days of pimples or even a boil. The body embraces the fast and the digestive system is able to take a much-needed rest, focusing all of its energies on cleansing and healing. White blood cell and immune system activity increases. You may feel pain in your lungs. The cleansing organs and the lungs are in the process of being repaired. The breath is still foul and the tongue coated. Within the intestine, the colon is being repaired and impacted feces on the intestinal wall start to loosen.‬

‪Detoxification Stage 3 (Day 8 to Day 15)‬

‪You will experience enhanced energy, clear-mindedness and feel better. On the downside, old injuries may become irritated and painful. This is a result of the body’s increased ability to heal during fasting. If you had broken your arm 10 years before, there is scar tissue around the break. At the time of the break, the body’s ability to heal was directly related to lifestyle. If you lived on a junk-food diet, the body’s natural healing ability was compromised. During fasting, the body’s healing process is at optimum efficiency.‬

‪As the body scours for dead or damaged tissue, the lymphocytes enter the older, damaged tissue secreting substances to dissolve the damaged cells. These substances irritate the nerves in the surrounding region and cause a reoccurrence of aches from previously injured areas that may have disappeared years earlier. The pain is good as the body is completing the healing process. The muscles may become tight and sore due to toxin irritation. The legs can be the worst affected, as toxins accumulate in the legs. Cankers are common in this stage due to the excessive bacteria in the mouth. Daily gargling with salt and water will prevent or heal cankers.‬

‪Detoxification Stage 4 (Day 16 to Day 30)‬

‪The body is completely adapted to the fasting process. There is more energy and clarity of mind. Cleansing periods can be short with many days of feeling good in between. There are days when the tongue is pink and the breath is fresh. The healing work of the organs is being completed. After the detoxification mechanisms have removed the causative agent or render it harmless, the body works at maximum capacity in tissue proliferation to replace damaged tissue. After day 20, the mind is affected. Heightened clarity and emotional balance are felt at this time. Memory and concentration improve.‬

Thought about Longer Extended Fasting

I’ve put together some thoughts on Extended Fasting. In particular, I am interested in the subject related to Angus Barbieri. Here are my thoughts:

  1. Support helps. Angus’ doctors originally intended for his fast to be a relatively short one but when Angus decided he wanted to fast longer they agreed to monitor his fast. Since few modern doctors would support such a fast there are other supports such as Facebook groups on Fasting.
  2. Fasting until you reach your goal weight was a much more accepted practice back then. They didn’t feel that shorter fasts had as much long term effectivity as fasting until goal weight. That mindset allowed the doctors to support Angus’ fast.
  3. Fasting is easier than even LCHF. No obsessing about macros, too much protein, etc. It is absolutely free. It requires no meal preparation or planning. There is no shopping time.
  4. Sometimes we self limit in Extended Fasting. We could go longer but we set our minds to fasting for a particular time length.
  5. Having a realistic goal weight is important. Angus stopped at 180 lbs which is the chart value for the upper end of normal weight range. This can guard against judging by the mirror and the charge of anorexia (although that is a totally different issue of body image dysphoria).
  6. It helps a lot if you are already fat adapted. The transition to fasted state can be tough but it’s easier the more times you have fasted. Day three seems to be the hardest day for many people.
  7. Social engagements are a major reason for ending fasts early. We often have an event to go to with friends or family which gets in the way of an Extended Fast. A helpful white lie is “No, thanks. I already ate.” It is true though. If you are fasting you are consuming your own body fat so you are actually eating really well. Saying no to children, parents and friends only invites questions so be prepared ahead of time for what you are going to say. Or cancel the engagement altogether.
  8. Fear of refeeding syndrome can derail a longer fast. Picture the German concentration camps after WW II. The American soldiers came in and fed the starving people and many died from overeating. But there are many significant differences between us and those poor souls. They had no body fat left. They were truly starving. Their organs were in very bad shape. One of the prisoners who was liberated by the Russian troops said that they were better off being freed by the Russians than by the Allied troops since the Russians didn’t feed them.
  9. Another thing which derails us is we feel ill at some point and the standard fasting advise is to stop when your body tells you to stop. But how do we differentiate our body telling us to stop and dehydration? Eating a lot of salt can help with that. I put Morton’s Lite Salt in my coffee because it is half Sodium and half Potassium. Angus was given Potassium and Sodium supplements at different times in his medically supervised fast.
  10. Another common reason is the advise that people give to cover their own backsides of “Make sure you do this fast under medical supervision.” Judge for yourself the soundness of this advice. I followed their advice and ended up on 100 units of Insulin a day. Medical doctors know very little about this subject. Research for yourself by visiting You can search for anything there. Angus’ own story is up there in a scientific paper.
  11. Daily life, cooking for others can derail. TV has constant commercials for food. People eat food at work at their desks and you are assaulted by the smells. I have a friend who is on keto and his food really bothers me because it is so attractive. They buy a cake at work to celebrate a good goal being met. You can’t have that reward. I especially feel sympathy for moms and dads who cook for their kids all the time.
  12. High expectations of rapid losses. You hear stories of how people lose 25 lbs with 10 days of fasting. How long have they been at this? Angus lost 3/4 of a lb on average a day and he started at over 450 lbs so much of his weight was when he was heavier. Expect to lose anywhere between a quarter pound a day and a half lb a day. The longer you fast the less the drop will be. There might be days that the scale doesn’t show any loss or maybe even a gain. I put on 6 lbs after I drank a half jar of leftover juice from olives.
  13. Looking at the Blood Glucose meter can instill fear. I saw a blood sugar number in the 50’s. Angus had blood sugar as low as 17 at least one day with no symptoms of hypoglycemia. The brain switches over to be fueled by ketones. Angus was mostly in the 30’s. That would put any diabetic in the hospital. If you are ketone fired this is no issue but if your regular blood sugar is high then going low may make you feel ill. That makes me think that many people who try fasting are not yet fat adapted and the blood sugar drop is a problem for them. If you don’t have one, blood sugar meters are cheap. This is probably one of the things that surprised Angus’ doctors the most. They had not experienced patients with such low Blood Sugar numbers before who were functioning fine.
  14. Stopping because of the clock. Having an open ended fast may produce a longer fast. I knew that because when I got to ten days the last four fasts I didn’t want to stop but I only wanted to fast to ten days.
  15. You will get acidosis. That is what my own MD told me. Yes, your body becomes more acidic when fueled by ketones. Dr Berg says that’s the problem – we are too alkaline. That’s why Apple Cider Vinegar is effective it lowers your pH value. Ti answer the object, Ketoacidosis is when your ketones are high and your blood sugar is high. That is not the problem during long fasts where your blood sugar is very low. If you are concerned monitor your blood sugar. Ketoacidosis can be an issue when refeeding after fasting if you eat a lot of carbs.
  16. I will be fuzzy headed. I don’t have that experience in general. There are moments where I feel that. The research also indicates that ketones don’t mess up mental functioning.
  17. But, Angus was only 52 when he died. Well he died 24 years after the fast so it’s pretty unlikely that the fast killed him. We don’t yet have a death certificate for Angus and we don’t know what his diet was like after the fast. We also don’t know what damage was done to his body for the years he was heavy. His whole family was heavy per his friend. Angus did marry and had two children so obviously he had a quality of life.
  18. Competition can be a motivator. Fasting with someone else can be great but expect them to wash out early if they are not experienced fasters. Or they may go much longer if they are more experienced.
  19. The first rule of fasting is don’t tell anyone about your fast. Same as Fight Club. Others will discourage you and try to scare you. I had a VP come and talk to me after one of his people told him I was fasting. I don’t tell too many people what I am doing.

Longest Fast Yet

I am currently on an Extended Fast (EF). An EF is where you only drink non-caloric drinks (coffee, water). I am on day 17 of the EF. This time I am doing it without any coconut oil in my coffee. I was using coconut oil (not a large amount, just a bit) in my coffee but I wanted to see if there was any difference without it. There wasn’t.

I am doing this as an Open Ended Fast with no end date in particular. I am attracted to the story of Angus Barbieri. He lost 382 lbs on an EF and holds the Guiness Book of Records for longest medically supervised fast. I started a Facebook page called the Angus Barbieri Fan Group where you can read is story and find links to the scientific journal which published the account of his fast.

I was honored to be able to speak to a friend of Angus recently. He was a boyhood friend of Angus and knew him at the time of his extended fast. He spoke very highly of Angus’ character and positive attitude. I asked him if Angus ever complained while he was on the long fast and his friend told me that he was the sort of chap who didn’t complain. He was basically a happy man.

How did he do it?

Angus had a whole lot of extra body fat. While you are fasting you basically consume your own body fat and that is what Angus did. He was able to eat [himself] quite well during that extended fast. He lost an average of .75 lbs a day which makes sense. He would have lost a lot more when he was over 400 lbs than when he was near his final weight of 180 lbs. Angus stayed near his end weight and didn’t get over 195 for the rest of his life.

Can Someone Else do it?

Well, unless you weigh 450 lbs or more at the start of your fast, there’s no way you can do that long without really hurting yourself or dying. There is a limit to the end of the body’s stores of fat. Angus, at 185, would have been at the high end of normal weight so he was still not in the danger zone of tearing into his body protein. That’s somewhere less than 10% body fat.

But, yes, I believe anyone who has sufficient body weight should be able to duplicate Angus’ feat of fasting until they reach their goal weight. I have lost 16 lbs in the last 16 days but some of those lbs are an illusion. I have been eating a lot of salt to reduce the water loss because that will all return after the fast ends. It doesn’t matter how much you lose during a fast. It matters how much you keep off.

I have eliminated all but my Blood Pressure meds from my life but when I am fasting I don’t take the BP meds. My doctor advised against that but if I take them I get lightheaded when standing. Keeping up the salt also helps to not get lightheaded. I see so many people who stop EF that will list their symptoms and they are all related to hydration. They probably could have gone on.

We’ll see what comes of this.


Navigating the Maze of Facebook Keto Groups

I really want to make some sort of map or list of questions that shows the groups and their “pet peeves”. The sorts of things include:

  1. Is taking Insulin good? Bernstein people say yes because their goal is lowest blood sugars. Keto people say no because they believe that more Insulin is more Insulin Resistance which is the root cause.
  2. Protein macros. Ketogains folks believe in 2-3 times the protein of most other keto groups. Other keto groups focus on the Insulin response of the body to protein. Too much protein although it doesn’t immediately raise the blood sugar does have a significant Insulin response so they keep it low. (Fung vs Finney/Volek).
  3. Exercise or not? Many keto groups say don’t exercise and point to the studies which show that diet plus exercise doesn’t lose any more weight than diet alone. Other groups are all about exercise and point to their physiques as evidence (and some are spectacular). They argue it is more about fitness than weight.
  4. Fasting. Most keto groups are starting to catch onto fasting. Some are not.
  5. What constitutes fasting? One group has a very, very specific list of things that you can consume while fasting and specifically excludes things like dry fasting.
  6. I think for the most part that the keto community agrees with the 20 grams or less of carbs a day but there may be differences with subtracting fiber when calculating. Certainly some have flexibility when it comes to additional vegetables.
  7. Artificial sweetners. Again various opinions on their positive and negative values.
    There are probably a lot more dimensions to this but those are the ones that come to mind.The best piece of advise I can give anyone is to read the pinned post when you join a Keto Facebook group. Most groups will ask you to do that and if you don’t agree with the pinned post don’t make it your personal mission to convert the group to your point of view. Just leave the group.

What my Doctor Said

I got off Insulin a year ago so I haven’t needed to go to my MD in two years. I decided for the one year anniversary of starting ketogenic eating to go to my doctor and get my blood tests. So I anxiously checked my email for the results of my blood tests.

The number I was most interested in was the HbA1C number. That’s the measurement of the average blood sugar level of the past three months. The test showed my HbA1C to be 5.8. That is at the bottom of the Pre-Diabetic range. 5.6 or less is considered to be non-diabetic. The value of 5.8 is an average Blood Glucose value of 120. That matches pretty well what my meter shows.

The doctor told me he has never seen this before or heard of this happening to anyone. I told him how I did it (documented in this BLOG). How I took off a week from work and decided I was going to figure out how to Hack my Type 2 Diabetes.

I recommended that the doctor look up Jason Fung and find some of his videos on Diabetes. Here’s one that YouTube has:

Has It Really Been One Year?

Yes, it has been a year. Looking back where have I come? Lost somewhere around 75 lbs. At my college weight. Waist size of my pants went from 42 to a loose 34. Every suitcoat I have bought fits and most of them are really, really loose. All of my 18-1/2″ collar shirts are really, really loose. All of the 3X shirts in my closet are really, really loose. Trips to Goodwill to buy clothes to fill the gaps. Down to tee Large Shirts. Unsubscribed from all the Big and Tall clothing email lists.

But that’s not why I started any of this. I started this with the purpose of Hacking My Type 2 Diabetes. How has that worked out? Fantastically! My blood sugar meter shows my 90 day average at 110. I took a blood test on Friday so I will have to see what my HbA1C number is but it should be good. No longer on Insulin. The Medtronics Insulin Pump is gathering dust in a plastic shoebox somewhere. Thousands of dollars of insurance costs.

No longer on Metformin.I stayed on it until a couple of months ago and then decided to stop. Yes, my Blood Sugar is 10-15 points higher, but I am not on ANY meds for diabetes.

Right now I am fighting a nasty case of poison ivy and my blood sugars are “sky high” at 140. I’d be worried but I remember what it was like when I was on Diabetes drugs. My numbers would be in the 200’s with this sort of poison ivy case. So even with the stress of a pretty big infection I am doing pretty well.

In the past year I have done four ten day fasts. My last fast started after a weekend where the previous fast had just ended before the weekend (10 ten day fasts separated by 3 days). I also did several three and four day fasts until I discovered that day 3 is the “tough day”. It really is true.

What was an experiment a year ago is now a way of life.

Two Ten Day Fasts Last Month

Last month (March ’17) I did two extended fasts. I separated the two fasts by four days. The fasts were both ten days.

I tracked a bunch of numbers during the last fast including my Blood Ketone levels. I bought a Precision Xtra meter to measure Blood Ketones. The meter cost $25 on Ebay.

The meter comes with no strips. The strips are really expensive, at about $3 a strip. They are more accurate than any other home method of measuring Blood Ketones.

Blood Ketone numbers greater 0.5 indicate that you are in Ketosis. I saw numbers as high as 6.8 while doing extended fasting. Most non-fasting days I get values around 2.0.



Ketonix Notes

The Ketonix 2017 model that I recently purchased has been disappointing. Previous year models seemed to work better for others.

Seems that the reason they were better was that the previous models used a different unit of measure and produced a wider range of “normal” Ketogenic readings.

The new scale is in PPM which is a lower scale than the previous model used. From the article: Measuring breath acetone for monitoring fat loss: Review

In normal healthy individuals, BrAce can range from 0.5 to 2.0 ppm. Adults on ketogenic diets (e.g., high fat with low carbohydrate) can have elevated levels of up to ∼40 ppm.

The article includes a graph which has the same data:

This actually correlates to what I measured with my Ketonix. I got numbers from 4 (in Ketosis) to 22 (when fasted 10 days).

That correlates to the scale above which shows a Ketogenic Diet in an adult to go from 2 to about 40.

The problem is that the middle of this Ketogenic Diet scale is 10. It took me several days of fasting to get to this level. So for normal Ketogenic dieting there’s not enough scale to blink the colored LEDs on the unit. If you look at the fasting scale you can see I never reached the higher levels I should have been seeing at 10 days into a fast.

Seems like the unit sort of works and sort of doesn’t work. If it is accurate for PPM then I would never see a number above 50% if I was at the very top of the Ketogenic diet scale – which is not realistic.


Blood Glucose Levels Over the last Three Months

Here are my blood glucose numbers over the past three months. I have been fasting the last week so the number are lower during the fast. This is an average of 113, and a HbA1c of 5.7. The normal range for level for hemoglobin A1c is less than 6%. Note that I am still taking Metformin. I am also doing High Carb, Healthy Fats plus Intermittent Fasting.