What is extended fasting?
Fasting is not new. We do it every night as we sleep. Extended fasting is not new. Used for thousands of years for religious and health reasons, it has a long therapeutic history. It is not starvation. Fasting is intentional and controlled. Emerging science is confirming what has been intuitively experienced for many, many people. Problems with chronic overnutrition like diabetes and obesity are increasing exponentially across the world. Periodic calorie restriction may bring some balance back in managing health.
Over the past year, I have been self experimenting with extended fasting and documenting my experience. Extended fasting means I don’t eat any calories for longer periods of time. Easily available apps and home devices mean I can monitor my blood glucose and ketone levels with a high level of accuracy.
Why does this matter?
The United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation (UMDF) is the largest international gathering of physicians, scientists and patients with an interest in mitochondrial disease. The Mitochondrial Medicine Society (MMS) statement from 2017 advises against fasting for patients. The only exception is the ketogenic diet, used for treatment of epilepsy.
In my case, outside of extended fasting, I follow a very low carb diet of animal based real foods. I would describe it as a high protein, moderate fat, low carb diet; a modified Atkins diet. I manage my disease with lifestyle interventions that are unexpectedly successful. I currently eat one meal a day (OMAD), exercise regularly, mostly weight training, and am currently asymptomatic. The 2020 Mitochondrion article details my lifestyle interventions over the past four years.
What have I done (now)?
The UMDF abstract on extended fasting is a case report of my extended fasting experience. Ethically, it would have been very difficult to find a physician willing to participate in the study, and it was. I conducted five 120 hour study periods over the course of a year. Blood and ketone levels were measured three times each day at 8 AM , 2 PM and 8 PM within each study period. Baseline data was collected before and after each fast.
I managed my electrolytes with daily salt, magnesium and potassium supplementation. Water and green tea were consumed as desired. I followed my regular exercise program throughout. All fasts were well tolerated and transient side effects like insomnia were easily managed. Energy levels increased in the absence of nutrients. Vision and smell acuity increased. Mental clarity was improved and exercise performance was slightly enhanced. These are all subjective reportings. The blood and ketone levels speak to the objective changes.
Here is the UMDF abstract on extended fasting as presented at the virtual Conference. I am not a scientist and do not have any specialized training in either medicine or research. I am a very motivated patient. Anyone considering extended fasting is strongly encouraged to consult with their physician.