The challenge was simple. To not eat or drink, other than coffee and water, for a 48 hour period.
The thought behind it
My 48 hour fast challenge isn’t about following any sort of trendy fad. It was nothing to do with ‘detox’ or anything to do with intermittent fasting. So why did I fast for 48 hours? Simply to see if I could do it. How it would make me feel, physically and psychologically and to test myself.
The planning (or absence of it)
5pm on a Thursday evening. Finish my meal and decide to start the 48 hour fast. Spur of the moment, zero planning, exactly what I always do. I tell my wife, who thinks I’m crazy, but she’s used to this kind of thing.
First evening is always easy, wake up strong coffee and out the door to work. Staying busy helps. As with all things like this, denying oneself, the less you think about it the better.
5pm home from work and 24hours in. Thoughts of dinner spontaneously enter my head. More than they ordinarily would, I think to myself? Is my body starting to send panic signals to my brain? But family life keeps me busy enough to forget until it’s time to workout.
8pm and time to hit the turbo trainer for an hour. It actually felt fine. Nothing out of the ordinary, but I did feel more thirsty than usual. Or was that again another mid game?
Quick shower watch a film and then try to sleep. Try being the operative word. Hunger is pretty strong and I realise this is probably the first time in my life I’ve ever gone to bed hungry.
Wake up feeling noticeably hungry. Add an additional black coffee to start the day. And question whether this is me trying to trick my mind and body with a cheap substitute for food.
It’s 9am. 40 hours in 8 hours to go. Very hungry, made worse by the fact everyone in the house is eating. Mouth is crazy dry despite drinking lots of water. More water than usual in fact.
7 hours to go
10am. Trip to the supermarket. It almost feels I’m trying to put temptation in my way and make this an even tougher challenge. The smells, the colours, everything seems designed to amplify this feeling of hunger. In and out as quickly as possible.
My ‘disciplined mind’ trying not to plan my meal tonight even though my ‘hungry mind’ was a more than handy adversary.
12pm. One hour into my weeks long run. Another way to increase the punishment, I ask myself? Legs tired, pace is 30s/km slower compared to usual. More than likely an effect of the fasting, but it’s been a tough week in general. The hottest of the year.
The final stretch
1pm. Run finished. 20km in 2hours and it was a complete struggle. In every sense. Very thirsty and legs feel tired . Trying not to count down the minutes. Two hundred and forty….
4pm. Final hour. Hunger has almost completely gone . But the thirst and feeling of dehydration is almost overwhelming. Very unexpected as I’ve drank far more than usual.
5pm. Job done. Now where’s the food?
Final thoughts. Way more than just fasting
The first 24 hours are easy enough if stay busy and keep hydrated. I barely noticed until I was around other people eating. Going to bed hungry, for the vast majority, is a very infrequent experience in most parts of modern Britain. This made me reflect on just how fortunate I am, only “playing” at being hungry for the sake of a personal challenge.
The second 24 hours where much more difficult. Where the challenge really started to show its teeth. Waking up hungry is not a nice feeling. Especially when you know you can’t immediately end the craving. Going about your day surrounded by food is difficult. How do those that have to live with this hunger day in, day out cope? It also makes me contemplate how marketing can drive obesity.
And what about exercise? Running while fasted simulated the same feeling as at the end of an ultra. Extremely depleted energy systems. Heavy legs. My body felt tired before I even began and it was a mental battle just to keep moving.
Over all a hugely positive and though provoking experience. One that I will try again at some point. Maybe even take it a step further to 72hours.