Dave Asprey is a professional biohacker, technology entrepreneur, founder of Bulletproof Coffee, New York Times best selling author of several books including the new: Fast This Way.
There's something called solitude. Solitude is what happens when you're fasting from human contact. You might have even heard about Cameron Sepah who wrote about dopamine fasting. The idea is not to do anything that's exciting for a little while and just experience boredom. What it does is it turns up your body's volume so when you do have the inputs come back, some interesting things happen.
I’m going to tell you a story about my son Alan. A while back Alan said to me that he wants to try fasting. I told him that he is not allowed to fast regularly because when you're a kid you actually need those calories to grow but it's still okay to do an intermittent fast. For instance, it would be ok if he skipped breakfast once a week.
But then Alan said that he wanted to do a 24 hour fast just to see if he can do it. So I decided to give him a couple hacks that I describe in my book “Fast This Way” to turn off the pain of fasting.
Image source: https://fastthisway.com/
But Alan said that he actually wants to try fasting without the fasting hacks, to see if he can do it this way. So he went a full 24 hours without any fasting hacks and afterwards he said that fastin for him is the best spice because the food tasted so good afterwards.
That is also what happens when you dopamine fast, that's what happens when you actually fast from anything when you eat it again, it's like you know the angels are singing.
Learn more: Dave Asprey on the True Essence of Fasting
There are three major hacks that you want to follow when you want the benefits of fasting but you just don't want the distractions of fasting because you want to be focused on something else while still getting the anti-aging and the metabolic benefits.
I'd like you to reframe what you do nutritionally. If you decide you're going to do something called a protein fast. It turns out if you go with less than 10 grams of protein per day you can turn on autophagy if you just protein fast. So a day with some veggies and some fat can do a lot of what fasting does.
The most important thing that happens when you stop using any one kind of food: keto - fasting from carbs, vegan - fasting from meat protein, fasting - fasting from all protein, you can still get the benefits but they all are just going without something. Going without breathing, going without heat for a little (cold therapy), going in darkness versus bright sunlight, almost all these things are going without or manipulating levels dramatically. Fasting is just a way to increase the level of manipulation.
So here are the three things that “going without” not painful:
If you're a faster you might already know about this good old-fashioned hack.
There are fasting purists who say that when we did studies on mice they only had water therefore you have to only have water. However, what they did in a lab when the mice didn't have a choice doesn't mean that that's what works best.
There is a community of biohackers who've tried all sorts of things and it is well established at this point that black coffee at the beginning of a fast makes it easier and more effective via a whole bunch of pathways. The most interesting one, that people don't know about, is that the amount of caffeine in two cups of coffee will double ketone production, which turns off hunger.
Normally it takes at least two and usually four days of fasting to turn on ketosis. Your appetite is suppressed because there's a hormone called CCK that makes you feel full. It turns on with a very low amount of ketones, while your hunger hormone Ghrelin turns off with a low amount of ketones. This way, coffee may get you to the state of ketosis faster and certainly has other metabolic and fat burning benefits.
MCT Oil is the number two fasting tip to suppress appetite, but still get the benefits of fasting.
As you may know, there are four kinds of MCT oil that are out there. Brain octane is the most expensive one to manufacture but it is the one that in studies has the most benefits for ketosis. This is the type used by Bulletproof.
I noticed that even if I eat sushi rice for dinner, which means that I’m out of ketosis, in the morning I drink my Bulletproof and my levels go up and I stop caring about food. Some people say that that's not fasting since there is energy. However, if you're looking to turn on autophagy, which is recycling dead cells in the body, and the other benefits of fasting for your metabolism, it is now well established that this absolutely is fasting. People who are saying that it is not fasting usually have something to sell you.
At this point, so many people have done this and gotten the benefits. Even Siim Land, the author of “Metabolic Autophagy”, talked about the types of autophagy and the fact that MCT oil doesn't get stored as fat in the body. It gets metabolized for energy and turns on those ketone pathways in your cells so your neurons and you get that fasting like mental, spiritual state the first day.
There are a number of people who are great masters of spirituality and who use Brain octane or Bulletproof Coffee to get there faster because it works.
Prebiotic fibre is the other big thing for you.
These are fibres that your body can't eat but your gut bacteria do. When gut bacteria eat the right kinds of fibre, like acacia gum, which is one of the three ingredients in Inner Fuel, what happens is that bacteria make propionic acid and butyric acid, which turn your body more into ketosis. Butyric acid from fermentation equals your body burning fat.
When you put that in your coffee or a glass of water what happens is you start not caring about food anymore. Prebiotic Fibre is also found in MCT Oil Powders (Typically 70% MCTs and the balance is usually Acacia Fibre and / or Guar Gum).
When I was writing “Fast This Way” I was using Brain octane, a tiny bit of grass fed butter and Inner Fuel. As a result, I felt even less hungry than I did before. That leads us to an important question:
“How long should you go without eating during intermittent fasting?”.
The answer is at least 16 hours.
While there are a lot of people who are packaging up fasting schedules as if it is a way to go, my advice is going a little bit longer is a little bit better. If you do OMAD, you're doing a 24-hour fast every day because you went 24 hours from your last meal and that works pretty well. But if you, for instance, had a snack at four o'clock and then ate dinner at six o'clock, you are still getting the benefits. No need to be that rigid about it.
You may use a fasting hack on some days and then on Saturday and Sunday choose to do a longer fast plus journaling. It's the awareness that happens when you are going deep, feeling the hunger and trying to turn off that fear.
You don’t have to go hard on fasting all the time. If you have a day when it's time to deal with the emotional and spiritual side of fasting, take that day, do the journaling, feel it, don't use any fasting hacks. But when you want to be lean and young and strong and have enough energy to function in your daily life it's okay to use a fasting hack because you're still getting the biological benefits, but don't have to deal with all the emotional side at the same time.
This is the difference between puritanism and biohacking. Are we out to get the results, change the environment around and inside us to have a full control of our own biology? Or are we out to follow a certain set of rules in the hope that they will work?
At the beginning of my journey, that path led me to work out six days a week an hour and a half a day and to eat a low fat low calorie diet. I did that for a long time before I figured out it wasn't working.
There's a chapter in “Fast This Way” specifically for women because, guess what, men and women are different. The time of the month when you fast is different and women usually, if they're over fasting, they feel it before men do. You can see it in your heart rate variability. If you have an Oura ring you can see it in your stress hormones, in your sleep quality.
Read more: Biohacking Tips to Improve Sleep
If you had a cold last week or a heavy workout, you may choose to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner and that's okay. Tapping into spiritual and advanced meditation states is one part of fasting.
Another part is psychological, asking yourself “What am I afraid of that I haven't acknowledged yet?”, “What's my inner wiring doing?”.
And then the third part is biological, where we ask ourselves “What fasting is doing to my body?”. Once you realise that, you get to pick which level you're going to play.
There's also another kind of fasting which is the one that makes you the most resilient of all.
You can read about this in “Fast This Way” and it’s fasting from hate.
How many times per day, especially if you're watching news feeds, do you find yourself feeling intense dislike for a person, for a thing, for a situation? In fact, you're probably used to feeling hate many times a day. What if you decide today or tomorrow that you are going to fast from hate and go the whole day without it. Do you think you could do it? It is amazingly difficult.
When you just become aware of how much you are relying on hate and anger to give you energy or to push away things you don't like versus that state of equanimity. There's a lot to be learned there.
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