Fitness for Body, Mind and Spirit

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Fitness for the body, mind & spirit

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My 5-day fasting challenge results...


Welcome to GreenNote Fitness Reflections.

Each month I share with you what I’m doing for longevity - to live my life fully with joy while serving others. We will deep-dive into optimizing brain function and mitochondrial health while maintaining strength and balance of body, mind, and spirit.


Earlier this month I joined my friends at Kion and 20,000 other challengers to do a 5-day fast. This may sound really difficult, but to be honest it was simple. When I use the word simple, it reminds me of wisdom from former Commander of the Navy SEALS, Mark Divine - simple doesn’t [necessarily] mean easy. The company Kion, does a great job in educating and bringing people together. In this case for a fasting challenge.

This brings us to two important fundamentals to get clear on before starting a fast: 1.) What type of fast will you be doing (there are many options, Kion outlines options in their free Fasting Decoded PDF); and 2.) Why are you doing this particular fast? I will provide my answers to both questions and then we will get to my results and observations.


Type of fast

The type of fasting I selected was an extended (for me) intermittent fast with slightly restricted caloric intake. Intermittent fasting is part of my weekly routine and lifestyle. Generally, I will fast for 16 hours for three non-consecutive days. For the Challenge, I did five days in a row of fasting 18 hours. Additionally I took out some of my favorite foods and beverages to impart a little more of a challenge.


Why fast?

My “why” for doing the fast was to set a challenge that required discipline and that helped me to think about something greater than myself. Others have sacrificed for me. Others are in pain and suffering daily. This is what I thought of when I would normally be reaching for a piece of dark chocolate.


Results and observations

Prior to fasting I captured my weight and body fat percentage. Not that I was fasting to lose weight but there is no disputing this metric and it’s easy to capture. After the 5-day intermittent fast, there were no changes in my weight. However, my body fat decreased by one percent.


Sleep

Let’s talk about sleep. It is not uncommon to have poorer sleep during an extended fast. Since I was consuming calories during the day and I prioritize sleep, I saw no disruptions and instead saw an increase in quality. How do I know this? By tracking my recovery and sleep with my Oura Ring.


The Oura Ring gives you a Readiness score (how well you recovered) and a Sleep score ranging from 0 to 100 percent. There are a lot of data points that go into those scores. One I will highlight is Resting Heart Rate. Your resting heart rate (RHR) is how many times your heart beats per minute when you are at rest. It's known to be a reliable marker of our state of recovery. An RHR slightly below your average means you’ve recovered well and have good readiness. An unusually high or low RHR means you need to spend extra time focusing on recovery. Intense training, a big meal right before bed, or an elevated body temperature can elevate your RHR through the night, resulting in a lower readiness score.


Throughout the week, my RHR was slightly below my average, indicating that I had recovered and had good readiness. This was in line with how I felt too. My energy was really high as well as cognitive function. I felt more focused and ready to crush it at the gym.


Exercise

Speaking of training. I continued to do my strength training workouts in a fasted state and then I added in more cardio in the form of a walk for .25 miles followed by a run for .25 miles for three miles with a .2 mile walk cool-down. Additionally I did sprints pushing a Prowler (essentially a sled with weights) combined with core specific exercises.

My body is used to exercise in a fasted state. Although not recommended, I took my training up a notch with incorporating more sprints. Getting the heart rate up for short periods of time is greatly beneficial. So is strength training. My energy levels felt great all week. One thing that was an enormous help for my training and cognitive levels was using essential amino acids (EAAs). Dare I use the phrase “game changer”? I believe it was.


The brand I use is Kion Amino Acid Powder Mix Berry. This contains all nine of the essential amino acids that the body can’t make itself. Branched-chain amino acid supplements on the other hand, only contain three of the nine essential amino acids. These inferior branched-chain amino acids may cause a spike in blood glucose or insulin, along with an imbalance of the more important EAAs. The EAAs have been shown to improve the retention of lean muscle, increase metabolic rate, and optimize brain and liver function with no deleterious side effects and a very low calorie load. I just mixed a scoop of it with water and consumed either prior to my workout or shortly after. It is a light berry flavor that tastes great.


Energy levels

The one thing that stood out the most to me during the week was how much energy I had. As the Fasting Decoded guidebook points out, it has been observed that all mammals tend to be active when hungry and sedentary when fed. As counter-intuitive as it may sound, energy levels tend to increase during extended fasts, due to an increase in hormone adrenaline.


Final thoughts

I felt great the whole week. My focus while reading and writing was sharp and my energy for the gym was stellar. I did make time for recovery, breathing, stretching, yoga, hydration, etc. All of these things play a vital role. It allowed me to focus on something larger than myself and in the process felt a stronger connection to gratitude.


My fasting lifestyle has returned to three non-consecutive days of 16 hour intermittent fasting. Ensuring I’m fueling my body with nutrients, giving it the materials that it needs. Ultimately the 5-day fasting challenge has given me a deeper awareness of how filling the body, mind, and spirit can be simple but not necessarily easy.


No matter our goal, setting an intention, putting a plan in place and allowing time to observe and reflect can ultimately lead to a life of more awareness.

To our reflection,


Lisa Schaffer

GreenNote Fitness


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