Fasting accomplishes several things. The first? It is the best—the very best—way to control glucose and insulin. If you want to live longer than anyone healthy, control your glucose. Without the constant spikes in glucose and insulin, your body is at leave to burn its own fuel, to run on its own juice. In turn, testosterone levels remain sound. Each time we eat, testosterone levels plummet, which spike glucose and insulin, all of which power inflammation and aging. Yet, it’s ill-advised to push calories away. With fasts, eating habits change because your body no longer needs it. Bodies learn to feed from themselves, and maintain optimal glucose levels. The second accomplishment: autophagy. Autophagy (or “self-eating”) is the process by which the body naturally removes cellular debris. Bad cells (which are not able to adapt to using fat for energy) die off because the body “eats” the bad cells and proteins first. Autophagy has been the shock of shrinking tumors, of magically erased skin tags, dying viruses, and more. All these massive benefits can occur when autophagy kicks into high gear. Researcher Dr. Valter Longo noted in a study1 that a water fast of 4 or more days can trigger a reset of the immune system. You see as we get older, our blood contains too many memory T-cells, each programmed to combat a particular microbe, and not enough naive T-cells, which respond to new challenges. Fasting purges and rebuilds the immune cell population with naive T-cells.
A third reckoning: epigenetics —turning the bad genes to good, powering on the good ones, and shutting off the bad ones. Whether by the force of one-day fasts or elongated fasts, genetics start to maneuver into their natural state, altered healthily and hugely affected by our dietary choices. And, fourth: hormone sensitivity. Like before, gear up your body to listen to those hormones by putting it through a fast, cleansing it, and making room for that physical change.
Even during a short fast there’s a rapid increase in growth hormone, one reason behind my weekly fasts (at least once a week, for a full 24 hours), which we’ll explore later. A weekly mini-fast revolves around a simple idea: optimizing hormones is not about gaining more hormones, but about becoming more hormone-sensitive. Hormones like testosterone, or any that affect healing, are dramatically amped during a fast.
CHTV episode 108 shares the experience of Dr. Derrick Dempsey, whose 22-day water fast was the root solution for personal health issues. For Dr. Dempsey, growing up with a pastor father, the ideology behind fasting was when you fast, not if you fast. The biblical ties are a huge gauge for many of us, including myself. The second “why” for fasting stems from his responsibility to family—he’s no stranger to the truth that spousal support and family leading requires good health.
Dr. Dempsey takes us through his fast, a project which started out as a 5-day fast, and evolved into 22 days of only consuming water. Having experienced fasting with whey water and broth previously, he was prepared for the task, which brings us to the first concept in coaching—mental preparation. By days two and three, despite the longing for meals, Dr. Dempsey powered through. Then the switch, a sort of mindset altering, occurred between days 4 and 6, where he developed a slight aversion to food and his mental clarity was re-charged. “You’re fine with water,” he told himself. “Just keep going.”
As the fasting progressed, Dr. Dempsey noticed some erratic changes in his mental capacity. As a youth, bludgeoned down by four head traumas and never feeling fully recovered, he initially notes that his mental clarity skyrocketed. Like many of us, he would have to read and reread things several times over to get the gist. With fasting, however, he found that wasn’t the case—his acuity soared. Such is the case with brain fog. Time and time again, a water fast has proven to scrape away symptoms of the “brain fog.” It reactivates the brain and hones focus.
Another consideration is rapid weight loss. When carefully executed, the fast can reduce large portions of weight, uprooting deep toxins stored in the tissue. However, weight loss isn’t the primary goal for everyone—and for that, there’s good news! The innate intelligence knows and seeks balance: something we call homeostasis. The body knows how to eat damaged tissue and bad DNA while routinely avoiding muscle. This situation is marvelous for tumors—the body will eat those. Endometriosis, a condition which is alive with scar tissue, is swallowed up in the innate feeding process of bad cells. In Dr. Dempsey’s case, chronic snoring and congestion ceased during the fast.
Alongside that weight loss, however, is the audible weight gain. With the rapid healing of the gut, the fast can be a strategic tool for gaining muscle. With growth hormone and testosterone increasing, and the gut healing, the body can assimilate food better. We note YouTube sensations the Hodge twins, whose 19-hour fast, powered by a 5-hour feeding period, is credited as the process for bodybuilding.