I posted on FB about a 48 hour fast that I did, and a fried asked me for a bit more detail, so I decided to write this blog.
Basically, of all the things I do for health, it had the most profound impact of anything I have tried in the past 1.5 years. I realized just how much eating close to bedtime can disrupt sleep. My average wake-up time shifted back 2.5 hours very quickly, and I have much more energy than before. After the fast, I now feel like I am on a focus drug (I’ve never tried these and I don’t recommend it); but really I just realized that I had been sleeping worse than I could be for a while. If you’re mitigating fake light after sunset but still eating, you are missing a huge benefit.
I also briefly discuss the hormone leptin, and how you cannot become overweight if you are leptin sensitive. One must be leptin resistant to eat enough to become overweight and to be unable to burn off these excess fat stores. By using the Leptin Reset Protocol (mentioned here) to become leptin sensitive, we can begin to burn our own fat for energy throughout the day rather than eating 3 meals and many snacks, as most today need to due to damaged mitochondria that cannot burn fat.
Recently I was in a suburb of NYC visiting a friend who fled from Hurricane Irma. I met him in Mexico over New Years’ in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico at an event for people interested in Optimal Human Health. Because there are few people in my life who see the world the way that I do, I jump on the chance to visit a friend like him. Three hours of driving feels like just a drive down the street for friends like these.
Naturally, we talked plenty about health and its many components: light, food, mitochondrial function, our local environment, cold exposure, circadian/seasonal congruence, etc.
Whenever we woke up, I had a habit of going to the kitchen to pound a high-protein breakfast to help kickstart my metabolism and circadian rhythm for the day. This high-protein breakfast is a part of Dr. Jack Kruse’s Leptin Reset Protocol , designed to overcome leptin resistance to become leptin sensitive, rekindling our ability to burn fat, and to eliminate inflammation throughout the body by resetting our natural circadian rhythm, the resultant hormone function, and by optimizing mitochondrial function.
I had continued this high-breakfast out of a routine, and hadn’t even realized that the protocol suggests shifting to more fasting and eating one meal per day, once someone is completely leptin sensitive and able to burn fat effectively.
What’s leptin? Wikipedia says “Leptin (from Greek λεπτός leptos, “thin”), the “satiety hormone”,[a] is a hormone made by adipose cells that helps to regulate energy balance by inhibiting hunger. Leptin is opposed by the actions of the hormone ghrelin, the “hunger hormone”. Both hormones act on receptors in the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus to regulate appetite to achieve energy homeostasis. In obesity, a decreased sensitivity to leptin occurs, resulting in an inability to detect satiety despite high energy stores.”
If you look around in any developed nation, you can see that the vast majority of people are leptin resistant. What does this mean? Basically, when fat cells make leptin and send it to the leptin receptor in the brain, that receptor is not functioning properly, therefore unable to receive the leptin signal from fat cells and carry out the next steps, which include telling the body to stop eating or to eat more, and to increase metabolic activity in fat cells to burn off excess fat during sleep.
What?!?! We’re designed to burn off excess fat while we sleep? Yup, but we can only do it if leptin is functioning properly. All mammals (humans included) also naturally burn fat to create heat anytime it is cold outside, but most never do this due to the use of clothing, houses, and heating.
Calories do not matter for weight, UNLESS YOU ARE LEPTIN RESISTANT (which most are). What?!?! How? Because if you are leptin sensitive, the body is able to burn its own fat stores without exercise. The “calories in, calories out” model looks at the human body as a closed system with no other energy variables. The discovery of the hormone leptin and uncoupling proteins (fat-burning proteins) in mitochondria completely shattered this theory because it introduced another clear variable with which the original theory cannot work.
More simply put: If one person eats a 2,000 calorie meal (I do, all the time), they might use the energy to build muscle, be energized, and then burn it off as fat throughout the day. Another person who is leptin resistant and has poor mitochondrial function (the two go together closely) will eat the exact same meal but be unable to use it for energy because their mitochondria are broken (to be explored in more depth in the Mitochondria series), so they will store whatever they don’t use right away as fat, and be forever unable to burn it off in the future.
If we are leptin sensitive, it is very, very difficult to gain weight, because our body naturally suppresses our appetite, and is able to burn off any excess fat as heat with leptin and uncoupling proteins in mitochondria while we sleep. Wild animals naturally gain weight at the end of the summer in order to prepare for winter, however this is the only time when we naturally put on weight.
How does leptin resistance occur? It is very complicated and not the subject of this blog, but essentially it all comes down to “uncoupled cycles”, meaning that our body’s natural hormone processes, which are supposed to be directed by a daily circadian rhythm directed by natural solar light, are no longer functioning the way that they are designed. Hence the term “uncoupled”. If we are “coupled” to the circadian signals (sunlight as the day goes on) this is not a problem. If we are not, then it is a massive problem for a living organism.
No other living organisms are able to alter their local environment to an extent close to that of humans. As you come to understand this science well, you will begin to understand why humans and the pets that we force into our environments are the only animals on earth that end up with non-communicable disease, meaning that they are caused by dysfunction of the body, rather than by a virus or bacteria.
So, if you are leptin resistant, fasting is definitely not wise because you cannot tap into your fat stores. Not only will you feel like shit, but it may lead to some unintended negative health consequences.
However, since I have become leptin sensitive, I continued eating lots and lots, out of habit and as a way to distract my mind. I hadn’t really tested fasting much, except for when I fly, in which case I had found that I can easily go for 24 hours without eating. 48 hours may not seem like much more, but it had completely different effects. My friend noticed these habitual, not-necessarily-constructive patterns in my eating so he challenged me to fast for 48 hours. I thought it would be easy so I accepted the challenge.
I drove home from my final day in New York and went to my neighbors for a big dinner of grass-fed sausage from a local farm and baked potato cubes, with a healthy touch of Mendoza Malbec. It was magnificent. The next morning I hadn’t eaten for a few hours because I rose and got straight to working on some stuff. I decided to start the fast from last night’s dinner because today is just a good a day as any.
24 hour fasts are easy for me. I eat a large afternoon meal, rise the next day in ketosis (fat-burning state), do some things, and before I know it it’s the afternoon. As that hunger came around in the afternoon, I knew it would come, but I resisted it and kept going. I was having my doubts, but that’s all they were; doubts. I went to sleep, and this is where things got interesting.
I slept like a ROCK. I already sleep pretty well (much better than I used to) since I am very careful to protect my eye after dark from blue light frequencies that suppress melatonin levels. But, this night was different. Because my body wasn’t full of food, which is fundamentally just matter storing sunlight energy at it’s most basic level, it had no reason to stay up once it got dark.
Normally, most people are exposed to tons of artificial blue light frequencies all day and night. These damage mitochondrial function, over time leading them to the state of a Warburg Metabolism. Read the article linked here for more details on this. This means that the mitochondria cannot burn fat and need therefore need carbohydrates (aka sugars) to make energy for cells to use.
So, as it comes time to sleep, our sleep quality will be optimal if all of our food is long-digested. The gut is a basically a long tube for assimilating light energy stored in food, and light release inside of here has similar effects to light at night on our eye. Our body will naturally keep us awake or out of deep sleep in order to completely digest our food. This comes at the cost of our sleep quality. If we eat right before bed, this is literally akin to placing an electronic light on our eye that will continue to shine for 3 hours after we fall asleep, because that is how long it will take to digest it. This time cannot be made up on the back end of sleep, especially because most people have to wake up unnaturally with alarms for school and work.
This was probably the first time in my entire life when I went to sleep after a full day of not eating a thing. I thought I slept well before, but WOW was this something else. It was so profound that I don’t even WANT to eat food anywhere near sleep any more. I woke up naturally before sunrise for the first time in a while.
In his Leptin Reset Protocol, Dr. Jack Kruse, one of my main teachers, specifically says that we should never eat within four hours of sleep, and this is the minimum. I have found from this experience that it is definitely optimal to not eat within 5-6 hours of sleep. So, if we are going to sleep at 10, not eating much after 4 or 5 PM. The earlier, the better.
NOTE: This is ONLY possible for someone who is LEPTIN SENSITIVE. If you are not leptin sensitive, you will get very hungry and struggle with this. Starting with Dr. Kruse’s Leptin Reset Protocol is a great idea, and following my Optimal Health Rx as you develop your health routine will completely destroy your appetite as you use IR light from the sun to make ATP without food, and optimize your mitochondria so you can burn your own fat stores, leading 24 hour fasts (one meal per day) to be easy.
While traveling my friends will probably want to go out and eat late, and I will be tempted, but I will have to pass. Occasionally I will eat something significant after dark and late at night, but now I know the consequences. I will make sure to eat my late lunch/dinner as a big, big meal some time between 3-5 PM, and make sure that I am really satiated and satisfied.
For the previous few months I have been very careless about this issue, eating plenty of food late in the evening, and staying up late. Now I know that not only was that food keeping me awake later, but it was really damaging my sleep quality.
This is a point that must be very, very clear: I thought that I was very tired on the middle night of the fast because I was hungry. Now I do not think that is the case. I actually think that that is how my biology is supposed to be around 9-10PM, and that my eating late has been destroying this natural function.
Even though I broke the fast at dinner last night, I made sure to eat multiple hours before bedtime. Once again, I woke up this morning before sunrise with fantastic energy. This simple fast has led to the most significant, immediate changes in my health, energy levels, mood, and well-being of anything I have done in the past 1.5 years, and it happened in just 48 hours.
Another huge benefit of fasting:
When we enter a fasted state, we give our body a “break”, in a sense. No longer does it have to deal with a constant input of food and digestion. Most people quite literally NEVER give their bodies a break, because they eat every 2-3 hours due to carbohydrate craving due to poor mitochondrial function (caused by a man-made, non-native, mitochondrially toxic, electromagnetic environment)
When we stop eating, the body up-regulates a process called “autophagy”.
“Autophagy is an intracellular degradation system that delivers cytoplasmic constituents to the lysosome. Despite its simplicity, recent progress has demonstrated that autophagy plays a wide variety of physiological and pathophysiological roles, which are sometimes complex. Autophagy consists of several sequential steps—sequestration, transport to lysosomes, degradation, and utilization of degradation products—and each step may exert different function. In this review, the process of autophagy is summarized, and the role of autophagy is discussed in a process-based manner.” http://genesdev.cshlp.org/content/21/22/2861.full
Exercise actually has very similar effects. Autophagy allows us to break down old components of cells that are not longer functioning optimally. At a small scale, this may not seem significant. However, consider the fact that the average adult human has approximately 100 trillion cells. The majority of energy expenditure in a living organism is on protein synthesis, which happens in massive quantities anytime we build new things.
But what if, instead of building new proteins, we just recycle old ones? This is what autophagy does. Anytime we can up-regulate autophagy, the energy it saves has tremendous systemic effects of the entire organism.
So, my fast was a great success. I have learned a lot. If you are interested in something like this, I suggest you begin with the Leptin Reset Protocol and work your way up from there.
If you found this interesting or useful, please share it on you preferred social media platform 🙂 . I took a few hours to write this because I think it can help people, so all I ask is that you take 30 seconds to pass the love along.
I wrote this because one friend asked me for more information. So, please never hesitate to ask me questions. It is my greatest inspiration for writing.
To read more about fasting: