Remembering Kevin Moore

Have You Tried An Extended One-Week Fasting Period To Boost Your Health?

Just say the word “fasting” to most people and you’ll conjure up one of two immediate thoughts–a Christian would think about sacrificing food for a period of time in an effort to devote time in intercessory prayer to God over a matter of serious concern for your family or a friend; a health enthusiast might ponder fasting as a means for bringing about improvements in a specific disease or ailment. Of course, there is a third reaction that I think the vast majority of us would think about upon hearing the word “fasting”: torturous STARVATION that is the last thing you’d ever want to do! Can I get a witness? Wherever you fall along this spectrum of responses to the concept of fasting, there’s no denying that there are a whole lot of people who believe strongly in the power it possesses in the life of the person who decides to do it for whatever their reasons.

Although I am a committed believer in Jesus Christ and have been exposed to this concept of fasting for most of my life, I’ve never personally understood how someone could do it. Growing up I could hardly go three hours without putting something in my mouth–something I now know was intricately tied to my severe addiction to sugar and other culprit carbohydrates that kept me constantly hungry and craving more carbs! But when I attempted intermittent fasting in 2006, it merely ended in miserable futility. Anytime someone brought up the “fasting” word again, all I could think about was the pain and anguish I felt doing that intermittent fasting nearly five years ago.

But in 2011, I decided after prodding from people like Robb Wolf and other intermittent fasting advocates that I’d give it another go. Allowing myself upwards of 18-20 hours between meals has been the way I’ve tried to eat most of the time this year which has been working MUCH better for me this time around than before. In reality, it’s been quite easy eating a meal in the morning around 9:00am and then another around 2:00pm as the totality of my food intake for the day. I’ve even sometimes mixed it up and pushed my first meal to around 12:00pm and then the second meal at 5:30pm. It’s all still intermittent fasting that has helped me shed close to 30 pounds in the first couple of months of doing this. I couldn’t be more pleased! But what about this idea of an extended period of fasting in an effort to boost my health?

When I interviewed Dr. Thomas Seyfried on my podcast in November 2009, he suggested people who want to prevent cancer should eat a calorie-restricted low-carb diet and considering doing at least one week-long fast annually. Of course, most people couldn’t (or more likely WOULDN’T!) do something like this for all the reasons I’ve already stated. But what would it be like to try it? Now that intermittent fasting seems to come more naturally to me probably because of the blood sugar control my current routine is providing me, perhaps I could give a total fasting from food for one week a try for myself to see how my body would respond. One of my readers recently did not just one, not just two, but THREE one-week fasts over the past year on the suggestion of his doctor regarding some prostate issues he was dealing with. He had strict guidelines to follow during the fast and noted that “after the first 72 hours it really is not that bad at all. You don’t really feel weak or anything like that.”

He told me he wanted to share “something profound” that he learned about himself through this fasting experience.

The way you experience yourself physically when you are fasting is practically identical to the way you experience yourself physically when you are eating. There is not much difference. The reason this is so important is that when you think you experience hunger while eating normally, that same experience of hunger is present when you are fasting.

I believe this is why people have so much trouble losing weight.

In other words the hunger sensations in fasting are the same as while eating normally. You then ask yourself how you can be hungry when you have eaten 3 hours ago when it is the same hunger sensations when you have not eaten in a week? Calling them hunger sensations is also not really the right word. They are more empty stomach sensations.

So, what we think is hunger is not really hunger when you eat normally and the impulse to eat no matter how much it makes you think you want to eat cannot be taken seriously.

WOW! Now that’s quite a lesson my reader learned from his fasting experience. If we can learn to view hunger in the right way, then we can be more resistant to the temptations that tend to inevitably befall so many of us who struggle with our weight. As my reader so succinctly put it, “fasting allows you to reclaim your hunger for what it is and it no longer dictates what you put in your mouth.” Now that’s a message I think we can all learn something from. Oh, and by the way, the series of one-week fasts was “tremendously successful” in treating those prostate issues he had, too. WOO HOO!

I don’t know when I’m going to try to go an entire week without any food at all, but I definitely want to give it a go. Of course, if I do that then I don’t think I’ll be doing my normal exercise that week. And I want to make sure I won’t need to record any podcasts or other activities where I’ll need to keep my mind and body fueled. So it looks like it might be in April or May before that happens. Anybody else willing to try their own one-week fast for the sake of your health? Lemme know if you do and what it was like for you.

  • Jkennedy

    Good afternoon Jimmy πŸ™‚

    I did do a one week fast a few years back, I was feeling like crap and felt that my body just needed a big can of Drano. I decided the fast would be away to allow my body to repair itself and not have to deal with food. I also wanted to see if mentally I could do it. I started on a Monday, Tuesday was okay then Wednesday I felt like crap…Thursday morning I felt great and by Friday really good. I had shed 12lbs… ( over the weekend most of it came back, I wish I had kept going). I drank water and sodium free beef and chicken bullion and walked in the morning. I went to bed early to avoid the refrigerator calling me πŸ˜‰

    One of the other things that caused issues was the badgering by friends and family. Its not safe, its not good… blah blah blah. I have been reading alot about the Paleo and low carb lately and I believe there are many times that our ancestors went awhile without food. Thanks for the article.. I might do one again soon. πŸ™‚

    Regards, John

  • Wendy M

    I am a Christian and I just completed a 40 day water only fast. Started on January 1 and ended on Feb. 10. While it was mainly for spiritual reasons, I did experience some incredible health benefits, including a weight loss of 44 pounds! I have been able to keep about 30 of it off so far. I have battled candida issues for several years and experienced a healing in that area. I also got victory over some cravings that were out of control, namely for caffeine, artificial sweeteners and cheese.

    I kept a blog of my fasting experience:

  • I used to go on extended fasts many years ago. I credit it with creating a good deal of metabolic disturbance and weight gain. Sure, you don’t gain weight while you’re fasting. But it can cause a serious rebound effect afterward. Even if you don’t eat any more. I personally would caution against it for someone who already has a history of having a disturbed metabolism that is prone to accumulate extra fat. Because that’s what fasting did for me. That’s just my individual point of view, of course.

    If you do go on an extended fast, I would suggest NOT doing it during a time when you’re not doing much else. As I used to like to say, “Why do they call it a fast when it goes so slow?” I don’t recall having trouble with mental focus while fasting. (Probably because my brain was happy to have a break from all the carbs I was taking in the rest of the time?)

  • I’ve done several 16-17 hour intermittent fasts and in the past two weeks I’ve done two 24 hour fasts. They’ve gone really well but I’m not sure I’m ready for a week long fast yet. I was more than ready to break the 24 hour fasts (dinner to dinner) when the time came.

    I’m curious though what prostate issues his fast resolved. Glad to hear his doctor didn’t just write him a prescription.

  • Ricky


    As a christian, the key is to be sure that you are fasting for the right reasons. That is to deepen your relationship with HIM. It isn’t by your own power that you could fast but by trusting and walking with HIM throughout the fast. An excellent book to read on the subject is Fasting by Jenetzen Franklin.

    • I like John Piper’s books on this subject too.

  • vlado416

    Jimmy , I am awaiting shipment of the herb Hoodia Gordonii which is taylor made for fasting. It’s from the Kalahari desert in South Africa and it really helps one feel satiated when fasting through a bunch of metabolic adjustments. I have done fasting in the last year with varying results. I have gone only 3 separate days of no food or about 36 hour fasts but about a dozen other attempts were foiled and always because of some stressful event and we know that stress creates hunger and a craving for quick energy carbs. When fasting it is the most important to prepare yourself and be in control of your emotions and most of all to go outside in the nature because natural setting suppreses hunger and being inside promotes hunger.
    During this cold and long winter I gained about 15lbs so a perfect reason to go on some fasting. Now I am hopeful about Hoodia but I am not yet sure how I will use it and for how long. I’ll report it on your forum

  • I will probably do this next week starting on Monday. I have fresh fish and veggies in my fridge I’m going to finish off this weekend…. then let the games begin! Just imagine how much relaxing and work I can get done not having to worry about MEALS! Hard part: feeding the kids dinner. Maybe I will try to get my mom to feed them next week before I pick them up after work…. or would that be cheating?! LOL

    I will tweet about how it goes!

  • Ahrand

    I’ve gone ‘paleo’ 3 years ago and have done 3 extended fasts in that period (one a year, typically in the mid winter).
    First fast was horrible, I felt weak, dizzy but had to admit that after 72h the hunger just … stops. I stopped the fats after 4 days because my kidneys started to hurt badly.
    Second fast was better, less weakness, less dizziness. Completed a whole week. learned there that the reintroduction of food is VERY important (start slow and just with some liquid calories (bone broths, fermented coconut water, juiced vegetables, etc…)
    The third fast was some weeks ago and I completed the 10 days without much issues. I kept working (desk-job) through all these fasts.

    – do NOT fast if you are on SAD (or have just transitioned from one)
    – start with a few days the first time, expect weakness
    – build up gradually over the years
    – be careful with reintroducing solid food.
    – your hair and skin will ‘glow’ afterwards

  • For purely health reasons, water fasting can be quite tough. Sure, after the third day you won’t experience much in the way of hunger, but water fasting for longer periods is very aggressive, and given your dietary and medical history (as best as I can glean from your web presence), I would approach a week water fast with caution.

    If you want to fast for that length of time, the first time around I would make the following suggestions:

    1. Fast on lemon water, not plain water. For complicated bio-chemical reasons I won’t go into here, a lemon water fast is physiologically and psychologically much easier than a water fast. Best ratio is 9 ounces of fresh squeezed lemon juice for every 36 ounces of water.

    2. Go about your normal business. The old school Natural Hygienists were big into rest during fasting, but in my experience it is not a good idea for most folks unless fasting is being used as part of a protocol to fight some late stage terminal disease.

    Most people are better served by keeping their normal schedule. Don’t increase it (especially exercise) but don’t really change it either. It will make the fast much more tolerable.

    3. Make sure you get a least a gallon of liquids a day. Any less and potentially you could make the fast much more aggressive than necessary.

    4. Be very careful how you break the fast. This is where most folks really go wrong. The vaunted rebound effect that scares many folks is 99% of the time attributable to what they do after the fast, not the fast itself. Any fool can fast, its breaking the fast that often separates those who do well post fast and those who do not.

    I’ve done juice fasts for 40 days plus and water fasts for up to 2 weeks. I’ve posted some about juice fasting, water fasting, and IF. You may find those thoughts of interest.

    At least twice a year I do a week long water fast. Once during the first week of Lent (the Church calendar essentially allows for two meals during that week – it is easier, at least for me, just to bypass those meals) and the second time during Holy Week right before Easter.

    Perhaps my n=1 can be of some help.

    • Great stuff Michael! Thanks for sharing your experience and wisdom.

  • So far I haven’t seen a compelling reason to go thru this? Why would you want to do this Jimmy?

    • If there’s anything you’ve learned about me over the years, mrfreddy, as a long-time reader, it’s this–I’m willing to try something to see how I respond to it if it seems to make logical sense for me to do. I was opposed to intermittent fasting for the longest time, but now it seems to work well for me. We run into danger of becoming complacent with where we are if we fail to try new things time and again. Dr. Seyfried really started this thought in my head to possibly do this when I interviewed him in 2009. What’s it gonna harm to do a one-week fast? I think there will be more benefit than damage.

  • Sue

    I will second the idea that breaking your fast is more important than doing the fast. My experiences with week long water fasts is about 30 years ago – and I was a Special Ed elementary teacher at the time and I continued to work throughout. Keeping up a regular schedule and walking for exercise are good ideas, because otherwise, I would have gone bonkers. On the weekend days, with no work, I struggled with wanting to eat out of boredom, not because I was hungry. I would also recommend that the day before you fast be a light eating day, mostly just vegetables. If you fast for a week, I would recommend that you are not eating your typical diet for at least 3 days after. Reintroduce food to your system slowly, juices (fresh vegetable juices mostly) for the first day, then vegetables mostly for a couple more days. And watch it if you are a coffee drinker, your fast will likely give you raging caffeine headaches,so taper off the caffeine first, if you can. That is if you are going strictly water fasting. If you are zero calorie fasting, then go ahead and have a little coffee or tea with no caloric sweeteners in them, but some purists would say you weren’t fasting. I say if there’s no calories, it’s fasting. Good luck Jimmie. Truly after 72 hours you won’t be hungry, but you will want to stand up slowly!!!

  • Sue

    Oh, and to fast for your health is a good enough reason. Now, if you are fasting to cast an evil spell on someone, that might not go so well. But you don’t need to fast to get into God’s good graces. Those are automatic.

    • I don’t think spiritual reasons to fast have anything to do with trying to “get into God’s good graces.” But I appreciate your comments, Sue.

  • Go for it Jimmy! For me tho, I would need a really compelling reason to put myself thru that, more than “let’s see what happens”. I’ve done IF for long stretches at a time, and pretty much do it on a regular basis now (don’t normally eat till sometime after noon.) I start to get pretty darn hungry if I don’t eat by 2 or 3 pm, I can’t imagine living that way for several days. But if I thought it would help me with the last 15 or so I’ve been carrying around for 8 years, I’d consider a week long fast. Anyway, I’m looking forward to hearing how it goes for you.

    • Well, and it’s based on what others have said about going through the experience, too. If there wasn’t a means to an end here, then I wouldn’t even consider it. But I won’t know unless I give it a go. Likely in April or May I’ll give it a whirl.

  • Dav-o

    Jimmy, I have to disagree with the “profound” statement you quoted in the article. From personal experience on a 4 day water fast, the hunger was much more than the normal hunger, or empty-stomach feeling as described. It was throughout my entire body, it was an “empty-body” feeling. Not saying that that’s bad, but I don’t think you should set yourself up to expect it to be the same as normal hunger; it can be much more intense.
    Couple more quick n=1 observations: I thought of food constantly, and had difficulty falling and staying asleep. On the positive side, mental acuity increased, as well as general feeling of well being.

    • I appreciate your input on this, Dav-o! πŸ™‚

  • Jimmy, on your menus blog you’ve already stated that you don’t intend to continue eating the way you currently are forever. You’ve already added chocolate and some cauliflower to the mix. I’m not criticizing that, but you have a history with going to extremes and then not being able to transition to a “normal”, sustainable, eating pattern to maintain the losses.

    You did the egg fast and almost as soon as you broke that started gaining back.

    What do you think will happen after a week with NO food?

    I don’t think this is a good idea for anyone with a history of eating disorders or dramatic weight fluctuations as you’ve undergone for the past 5 or so years.

    Once you eat again, biology will make sure you eat more so as to survive the next “famine”.

    • What I stated on my menus blog is that there is not a need to eat the way I am now forever because it will eventually allow my body to reach the leanness I desire. I’m the first to admit I’m still trying to figure out the best way for me to transition to whatever the new “normal” way to eat is. I wouldn’t say I’ve gone to “extremes” but I have experimented. Additionally, I wouldn’t say I have an eating disorder either–I’ve never been more in control of what I eat than now. Thanks for your concern.

  • Katie Brown

    When I was 14 I did a 30 day fast. It was purely to loose weight and I admit that doing this at 14 was probably a bad idea, but I did it an this was my experience.

    I was eating a traditional American diet (which was what my mom fed me, she still won’t come around to low-carb even though she understands it works and why)… I was frustrated about being chubby. So I just decided I was going to stop eating. I was (and still am 5’4″) at the time and weighed about 150. After the 30 days of the fast I weighed 116. Basically I lost a pound a day. I drank 1 full calorie Pepsi a day and ate a piece of candy (because you know, they didn’t have any fat) I had always heard that you eat low-fat foods, and count calories. I knew I was only taking in about 300 calories a day this way.

    Unbeknown to me until recently, the reason I lost so much weight was because I was taking in WAY fewer carbs than I normally would have. That coupled with not taking in many calories by body was using my fat stores for food.

    After the first day I wasn’t hungry. It was really easy to not eat once the hunger was gone. Every day that went by that I didn’t eat I felt accomplished. I also was encouraged by the quick weight loss. At first my parents were unaware of what I was doing as we didn’t eat together as a family.

    I was never tired, never cranky or weak. I felt great actually. After the 30 days were up and I was at the weight I wanted to be at I started playing Field Hockey so I knew I was going to have to eat. I went back to a carb-rich diet but counted calories. I was exercising a ton and eating about 1400 calories a day. I felt amazing and was in amazing shape. I was fit, could run a mile in 8.5 minutes without feeling winded and was a size 4.

    Once I started back in school and started eating school lunches of pizza and fries the weight slowly crept back on. By 17 I was at 165.

    After reading Good Calories/Bad Calories I now know why it was so easy to eat nothing, but why I’ve always had a hard time doing a traditional diet. Since low-carbing I’ve gotten down to 136. I think I might try a week long fast to get that last 10 pounds off. I know I won’t gain it back as I’m low carb for life.

    I would recommend a fast to anyone for weight loss reasons as long as they are also going to eat low-carb before and after, otherwise the weight loss isn’t going to stick.

  • Hi Jimmy,

    I have done fasts as long as 36 hours or so, and my n=1 is as follows.

    First 12 hours are easy. Second 12 hours are hard….then by the time a full day goes by you wake up much less hungry. When I would break my fast I wasn’t ravenous.

    I like to use fasts as a way to mitigate high calorie/carb days, say a 24-36 hour fast right before Thanksgiving or a big cookout.

    I like the slow and steady approach to life….perhaps a one week fast is a bit much. But you could try a 24 hour fast, then maybe 48 hours and see how you feel. It’d be interesting to see your progress!!!

    I remember your podcast about that Doctor…it was one of my favorite podcasts. The link between fasting and cancer is very interesting.

    • The fasting/cancer possibility of a connection makes this worth pursuing as a preventative measure.

  • Katy

    Yep, I did week-long fasts in high school. The mental clarity was fabulous, but the rebound weight gain was not. Some people get hooked and do it much more frequently than 2-3 times a year. I did it 2 times a month. Beware of falling into the logic of “if a little is good, more is better.” First it’s IF, then it’s a few days, then it’s a week–these are the things that eating disorders are made of.

    • If it’s done deliberately and on an infrequent timetable of maybe once a year, then I don’t see anything wrong with it. But what you describe, Katy, is indeed the slippery slope. I appreciate your input.

  • Sonya

    I’m sure it’s awesome for some people but I just listened to Matt LaLonde on Robb Wolf’s podcast and he does not encourage IF in folks with high stress, metabolic derangement and people doing high intensity weight training.

    I have PCOS, insulin resistance and believe I have serious metabolic issues given my lack of success losing weight. I do naturally IF since I’m frequently not hungry at night and generally eat only breakfast and lunch. I typically go from 2-3pm until 9-10am with no food and absolutely no hunger. I also work out around 6-7pm most days.

    I’m wondering if I maybe eat too much at those meals, if the IF is my problem or slow gastric emptying or something else. I don’t eat till stuffed or anything, but still… I’m certainly afraid to try fasting based on my personal experience thus far. Not to say that it isn’t good for others.

    • Like anything else, IF should be approach with caution until you know it’s right for you. I never would have thought it would be for Jimmy Moore, but I’m LOVING it now.

  • Hi Jimmy! As always you and your blog provide me with motivation when I need it the most. I’ll be reading regularly to see how you do, and I wish you the best of luck with your new tweaks.

    • THANKS for your comments, Katie! One way or another, we’re gonna figure this thing out together. πŸ™‚

  • Sophie

    I’m actually fasting right now – day 16 of a 16 day fast. It’s my first fast, and admittedly I’d like to try a 30 or 40 day fast instead of 16, however I’m a full time high school student and I wanted to try my first long term planned fast during a limited time out of school. It’s been quite the experience for me… I’m 5’4” and I weighed approximately 135lbs before the fast, now around 119-120lbs. I’m also transitioning to a primal/paleo diet and lifestyle. So low carbs and plenty of veggies with no processed and fake foods! I started out with the intention of having some water only days mixed with pure fruit juice days, however I usually consumed about 2 glasses of natural juices per day, with the addition of a smoothie (all natural fruits only) on these last couple of days.

    The fasting was not difficult per say, I felt some tiredness in the beginning but I then incorporated some moderate exercise to get my heart pumping and my energy and sleeping back up to par. I haven’t felt weak since then, or hungry.

    What I HAVE gained though is a realization of how my eating, and I think this is true for many, had become a thing of habit and taste, not of hunger. I often had to go through with smelling fresh baking or cooking foods, as well as being offered freebies etc. while shopping. These were very tempting, but I was not hungry and so I managed to resist them since I could no longer make the “rationalization” that I normally would while not on a fast to eat those foods. It’s allowed me to get a grip on my eating and understand why I eat, so I don’t need to give in to these fake cravings anymore and I can treat my body properly. That’s the plan anyway! Sorry for the extensive rambling!

    Good luck in your endeavours!

  • Kim

    Hi Jimmy! I really love the way you are so open-minded to try different things to see whether or not they work for you. We should all be so adventurous. I do IF almost daily, now, too (I basically skip breakfast on most days and start eating at noon). It’s way easier than I thought it would be and I definitely know that that’s because I eat low-carb and paleo.

    I was thinking that you might want to try a couple longer fasts in the coming months to work your way up to the week long fast. Perhaps a 24 or 36 hour fast? Just a thought. I’d love to read about your experiences.

    Happy Fasting! πŸ™‚

  • furzana

    hi jimmy i used to do a prolong fasting for 6 months i felt totaly eleveted and found myself coming closer to god i had tonns of energy and mental clarity and so much youth then i had socialworkers my son school nurse and headmistress intervine and they took that away from me now i am suffering very poor memory loss my complexion has aged and i cant seem to be able to do it again its in my heart to do it i am so out of balance i got told i have a mental illness that if i didnt start to gain weight they would put my children into care i suffer from depression and low self asteem i smoke a lot and thats even worse i used to do prolong fasting of 2months befour doing the 6 months will it ever come back to me again and how do i begin i had done it for spiritual reasons as i had just found my faith while doing it now i feel completely lost isolated and as if my soul has been ripped apart from me dont know if you can understand me during that time i felt no hunger pains or thirst at all i just kept remembering god and the rest of the people that were starving around the world and it was quite an experiance for me personally i have tried to do it on several occasions again but keep relapsing as i got shouted at my face that i was mental i often said to myself why dont they try to go without and be gratefull to god who provided them everything how would they cope if one day they were deprived of everything i just feel like i am a glutton and i dont like it or the way i look now my smoking habit makes it harder for me to go on a full day fast and i find it makes you crave more as your throut is dry you always tend to go for something sweet and constantly thirst will i ever be able to get my youthfull looks back if i keep at my fast and keep of cigaretts i get constant headaches and cant sleep right i feel so lost in a depth of darkness can you advise me how to fast when you have been so prone to smoking people used to say i did it because all i cared was the way i looked i am a liar as you cant survive that long without anything and remain so fit well i did by the grace of my lord and i did it without relizing hey he kept me alive had nowt at all but love for him and compassion for all the people that were left to starve it was truely awesome i so much want that back but when i try to do it because of my smoking habits i find my heart racing and start to get severe stomache pains i have gained weight and have gone so widey ways and it dosent suit me i lack energy and my metabalism has really slowed down drastically i just feel so bogged down if thats the expression i can use to tell you how i feel i dont feel cleansed i am hoping to get a colonic done and wonder would that help me kinda get back on track i want to do this fast secretly but finding it impossible with my sons headmistress as he attends a special needs school and keeps reminding me i have a mental illness i am not fit enough to fast and its driving me nuts can you help me what is wrong with fasting fully christ did it and so did many other prophets they would do prolong fasting to get spiritual closeness towards god and gluttony we are told is a major sin and god told us all to practice fasting for it has many benefits and trains the body to go without for certain periods of time as it gives rest to all your organs and rejuvinates your whole being and it did excactly that for me i have to do a 60days fast in my faith for not keeping my fasts when i was supposed to we are also taught to fast like prpht David he would fast every alternative day without eating or drinking i need support and encourgement my gp now tells me i am only allowed to fast 1day a week and must break it with a big meal i feel suffocated and keep sayiong to myself why me? i did nothing wrong i only did what my lord told us all to do give up temptations and worldly comforts and fast fast fast for him alone does that make me mentaly insane im losing my mind i dont like it and im stuck