Fasting Journal day 9 the End of the Fast & How to refeed

Weight after eating a melon last night: 154.8, 

Starting weight was 168. But of course this isn’t really measuring fat loss to lean muscle loss.

I decided I’d had enough of feeling listless and weak. I didn’t feel like I could stand another night of going to bed hungry.

Restocking the fridge

I went out and restocked the kitchen with plant-based Whole-foods last night, and prepped everything today for the week.

Whole food plant-based kitchen
Restocked whole food plant-based kitchen
  • Top shelf is blueberries and chopped cabbage salad
  • Second shelf: lentil potato soup, quinoa and three kinds of fruit
  • Third shelf: cooked kidney beans, cooked sweet potatoes, chopped kale, chopped broccoli, raw squash, and tofu
  • First drawer: fruits and veggies that can be eaten raw; carrots, strawberries, cucumber, tomatoes, lettuce, sprouts
  • Second drawer: veggies that need to be cooked for best absorption; kale, Brussel sprouts, potatoes, onions
  • I ate a delicious honeydew melon before bed last night on day 8 of the fast. I had another melon this morning and later a sweet potato. 

I am almost out of ketosis already and everything is functioning normally. I still feel a little weak and tired but closer to normal.

I never end up eating tiny meals the first few days. I find that eating normally helps get the digestion moving. If it was a 30 day fast I would start much slower.

Danger of rebound weight after fasting

I was concerned that if I continue to fast too long I will lose control of my eating after the fast. 

In the past when I have done 7 day and 10-day fasts I regained the weight pretty quickly. 

Rebound weight gain is a real concern biologically. The body wants to replenish its fat stores and tends to slow down the metabolism slightly upon refeeding.

Many people experience binging behavior after a fast. So this time I intend to eat really well and continue to lose weight as my metabolism recovers.

Rebound weight gain is one big reason I decided to cut the fast short. I had wanted to go full throttle for 21 to 30 days. But I decided I didn’t want to do that to my body. 

Here are the stats for my last 3 fasts

my three long fasts

Notice that I had diminishing returns for each fast. As far as weight loss goes.

I was obese at 5 ft 3 inches in August of 2018 and got down to 170 by October 8th on Chef AJ’s plant based protocols.

7 day fast 3/2019

I went from 149 down to 138 on a 7 day fast in March of 2019. I looked lean after the first fast but I lost a lot of muscle mass and not much fat. But the weight gradually came back over time.

10 day fast 7/2019

The second time I fasted was July 2019 for 10 days. I didnt take pictures but I started back up at 162 and fasted down to 146. But the weight gradually came back.

8 day fast 3/2020

I started back up at 168 by this third fast 8 months later this March lost 15 pounds. But at least 5 pounds of food, microbiome will be back in no time.

Was fasting worth the hardship?

For weight loss alone, I probably would have been better off just eating more whole foods and I would have lost weight more steadily without losing so much muscle mass.

But I do like the freedom and simplicity of not eating. There is a lot more time each day and less trash. It may have helped me reset my eating habits.

I did want to heal some joint and health issues and it did help with those.

I think this was my last long fast.

I like doing one meal a day once or twice a month, but I am going to eat regular meals the rest of the time. I am done with extremes and hardship. Being healthy and fit doesn’t have to be this hard.

Nothing extreme from now on.

Refeeding syndrome

The longer you fast the more danger there is of refeeding syndrome. This was another reason I decided not to continue the fast.

Refeeding syndrome can cause the electrolytes body to become dangerously out of balance rapidly upon reintroduction of food. 

I have never had any problems with this on other fasts. I have introduced thiamine and electrolytes to this fast just to make sure I was not dangerously depleted when introducing food again. But 8 days is pretty short and there was no problem.

My refeeding plan:

My plan is to create automaticity, by preparing as much food as I can ahead of time, so I don’t have any thinking to do when I am hungry or tired.

I think I started getting cravings for processed food because I stopped eating enough food every day and started second guessing myself.

Whole vegan foods are so calorie dilute you have to get used to eating a large volume of food every day or you get cravings for high calorie foods and end up binging.

If you don’t eat a high enough volume of food consistently it seems like the plant diet isn’t working.

The real reason I started craving processed foods again was my diet mentality.

I felt so uncomfortable with feeding myself enough food consistently because I was so used to the idea of deprivation.

The lesson is to trust your body. You will come to know how much to eat without constantly counting calories or weight yourself every day.

Intermittant fasting

I plan to eat 3 meals per day within an 8-hour window each day with no food after 6 pm or so.

I remember when this used to be the normal pattern of eating before constant snacking became the norm. It was just called breafast, lunch and dinner back in the good old days.

Even this mild form of “intermittent fasting” gives the body time to heal and eliminate toxins each night. It can improve insulin levels. 

An early eating window is also a great way to improve sleep. 

Preparing ahead

Often I like to get everything portioned out for the day into containers for breakfast lunch and dinner, in the morning so I won’t have to make any decisions about what to eat later on when I am tired or frustrated. 

Sometimes I will even bring a cooler of food in the trunk if I have to be out all day and I am not sure if there will be healthy choices while I am out.

Veggies for Breakfast

I usually start the with steamed zucchini or cruciferous veggies like kale or broccoli or Brussel sprouts in the morning steamed with onions and mushrooms.

Mushrooms and onions are great for building a solid healthy barrier for the gut lining against pathogens. They are also anticarcinogens. 

Veggies for breakfast is a Chef AJ trick for staying satisfied all day. The rich nutrients and bitter flavor first thing, keep you from craving sweets and junk food later in the day.

I cut up the cruciferous veggies beforehand and keep them in containers in the fridge for easy access to steam. When you cut up your cruciferous veggies it makes many of the important nutrients like the cancer fighting sulforaphane more available.

Basic weekly chopped or grated cruciferous salad

Chopped purple cabbage salad

I always make a huge bowl of grated salad that lasts all week to mix with the more perishable greens.

I grate up a head of purple cabbage, some carrots, an apple or two and drop in a handful of almonds or walnuts or pumpkin seeds a hand full of currents and squeeze about ¼ cup of lemon and lime juice on it all. 

Cabbage is very nutritious, especially when chopped and allowed to develop its own special bacteria that helps heal the gut lining.

I no longer use raw sauerkraut very often because of the salt. But my own version is also beneficial.

I try to avoid “snack foods” and finger foods

The almonds and currants in the salad are my only dried fruit and nuts for the week. Since they are mixed in the salad and soaked it makes them impossible to binge on.

Chef AJ reccomends not eating “finger foods”. Plain handfuls of dried fruit, nuts, popcorn etc are too easy to binge out on. But I am fine with having these in a salad for the week.

almonds and currants
Almonds and currants

Daily huge green Salad

Each day I make a green salad with lettuce or spinach or some kind of tender green or sprouts, cucumber, tomatoes, peppers, Jicama or whatever veggies I have on hand and dump a generous scoop of the cabbage mixture into that green salad. 

Then I might add some chipotle pepper or smoky paprika, fresh cilantro, fresh dill or fresh oregano and a big splash of apple cider vinegar. Sometimes I add fruit slices to the salad, oranges or grapes etc. It’s always different.

Weekly Bean staple

I cook a variety of beans each week and eat about a cup per day. I especially like black beans. I also love garbanzo beans because they have a creamy texture and can be mashed up to make the base of a no-oil salad dressing or thrown into the salad whole.

Whole Grain staple

 I cook a mixture of half buckwheat and half Quinoa or sometimes other grains, for 4 minutes in the instapot and eat about half a cup per day. Quinoa and buckwheat are pseudo grains, free of gluten and wheat. They are actually seeds not grains. I will often add a half a cup of grain to the green salad or have it in soup.

The lentil soup staple

First full meal
First full meal: salad and lentil soup

Every week I make a big pot of lentil soup and freeze half of it for later in the week. I use green, black, or red lentils, etc.

I chop up mushrooms, onions, garlic, seaweed, and one or two white potatoes and spice it with curry, masala mix or Italian seasoning depending on my mood, and cook it for four minutes in the instapot.

I make sure to have a variety of frozen berries and fresh fruit available and eat a serving of fruit two or three times a day.

Sweet Potato staple

Every week I bake a bunch of sweet potatoes to have on hand for one or two meals per day. They are so creamy and delicious without anything on them that I treat them like desert. And they are low in calories and fat.

I avoid making my food too interesting

I try to avoid having food that is too spicy or too many different foods in each sitting. As Spud Fit creator Andrew Taylor says:

Make your food boring and your life interesting.

Andrew Taylor

Other food addiction experts also concur on the matter of eating too many flavors all at once. Too much variety, salt, and spices just stimulate your appetite.

Though Deepak Chopra advises that we should have the six basic flavors from Ayurveda at each meal: sweet, salty, sour, pungent, and bitter. This is for balance and avoiding cravings. I do this most of the time too within limits.

I avoid smoothies and eat my food whole most of the time

Eating addiction experts, Chef AJ and Bright Lines Eating creator Susan Pierce Thompson both agree that it is better to avoid blended smoothies for the most part because they tend to rush into the system too fast. 

So instead of having a green smoothie every morning for breakfast save them as a special treat. You could make a banana strawberry ice cream style frozen desert or something like that on occasion and have it be something special.

If you were to take the smoothie ingredients and try to eat them without blending them it would take a lot longer and be a lot more satiating.

Eating lots of blended food can cause craving and binges later in the day for some people.  

So it is better to eat your food and not drink it for the most part if you have any problems with food addiction.

Fat and protein sources

I have black cumin seed, flaxseed and chia seed. I grind a tablespoon or two in a little coffee grinder and sprinkle it on the salad or greens every day. I usually have an avocado every week as well.

Sometimes I add tofu to the mix and beans also provide a lot of protein. Quinoa is also high in protein. I also use nutritional yeast sprinkled on some dishes for extra B12.

I try to comply with both Dr. Gerger’s “Daily Dozen” list and Dr. Fuhrman’s Nutritarian checklist of recommended daily foods and they overlap pretty nicely. 

Most of the veggies have some fat and some protein in them so getting around 15 percent fat and protein from this diet is easy.

Both Fuhrman and Greger suggest a low-fat diet high in fiber and water-rich high-nutrient plants. Both diets suggest eating whole foods and staying away from flour, oil, sugar, salt and animal products as much as possible or at least limiting them to special occasions. Greger is a little more generous with starchy foods like potatoes and grains. 

I was not brought up on a healthy diet, so it takes some planning to eat a whole foods plant-based diet, but I am getting really used to eating this way most of the time and it tastes great and I enjoy it without getting that processed food high.

Supplementation for a plant-based diet or any diet

Supplements for a plant-based diet

I take an omega 3 supplement designed for vegan diets, called Compliment Plus, that also has a lot of other essential nutrients in it: D3, K2, B12, Iodine, Magnesium, zinc, selenium, and algae oil with omega oils. A lot of vegans think that taking a supplement is not necessary but once again I have to stress that our food quality is not what it once was. 

We have stripped the planet of topsoil in the last 50 years with modern growing techniques, shipping over long distances and hybridization of crops. 

Even organic food just isn’t what it once was, unless you can build up the soil yourself you don’t know how good the soil quality is for the foods you eat. It is just good sense to take the bare minimum of supplementation even if you eat meat, fish and dairy.

All this writing about food is making me hungry!

In conclusion

Doing the fasting journal every day led me places I didn’t know I was going to go. Some people really love doing long fasts for spiritual growth as well as health benefits, but I find that I am not one of them. 

I find long fasts to be too stressful and uncomfortable. It just isn’t fun for me to be listless and weak and hungry for days on end.

For weight loss, fasting isn’t any more effective than eating a great diet consistently and nourishing yourself lovingly. 

I have spent way too much of my life restricting my calories and judging my body. I am focusing on mindful eating and intuitive eating but with whole foods not any old food.

I do love being healthy and fit. I am looking forward to doing my yoga and body weight exercises at home for a while as this Coronavirus does its thing. 

But I cannot wait to get back to my Pilates class, salsa dancing, and I want to start weightlifting using Kim Constable’s Sculpted Vegan program to get strong and buffed. I don’t want to be ripped like she is. But it would be fun to have some definition again.

Read more of my fasting journal

Disclaimer: Do not fast if you have issues with a weak heart, medical conditions, or are on medications, and be sure you have supervision if you plan to go on a long fast. I am not a medical professional. This is my personal fasting journal. Please consult a medical professional before you fast.

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