I am a practitioner of fasting. Having learned how it feels to go without food I feel it necessary to let others know. Hunger is a good thing, but letting hunger go too long is very bad. Let me explain how this works. Hunger and starvation are totally different. Hunger is the state that tells you that your body is not receiving food. Starvation is when your body is destroying itself to stay alive. As a geologist in the jungles of South America I had the not so pleasant experience of typhoid. Most of my time there (15 years) I was well supplied by the companies who hired me to explore. This one time the logistics failed. I went through one month of typhoid, and for anyone who wants to know the details I can provide, but the end result was starvation. I had no muscle mass, only gray skin and bone. The recovery period without exercise was two years. Internal damage remains.
You do not need typhoid to get to starvation. This letter is not to instruct you on starvation, it is how to handle hunger. As a fit man I have about liberally 15% body fat. Using fasting to clean my cells of toxins and accumulated vitamins I would need minimum three weeks of water fasting to achieve the goal. Juice fasting can do the same but failure is more likely since it takes longer.
Here’s how it goes: For the first four to five days I drink only water (bottled or well-filtered water is fine) and I have fierce hunger. At the fifth day hunger stops and the body realizes that it must draw upon stored energy. So, the body enters ketosis, which is the breakdown of fat to produce energy. The process will continue without any hunger pains until a very distinct signal, that is desire for food from the mouth and throat not the stomach. If you feel hunger from the stomach you have cheated and confused your body, keep going. When you feel that mouth and throat sensation it the time to eat, but eat sparingly. There is the urge to gorge, but resist and develop your food intake that equals the time spent off food. Fruit, juices, then more solid soft foods, then hard foods. Of course this will not be possible in a scarcity environment.
I drink only water for the full three weeks or until the signal arrives. The fasting initially may be a logical decision, the end of it is is not, it is very biological. During that time I experience the full range of effects from illness to euphoria, to true hunger.
Pushing beyond the signal is the beginning of starvation. You will know at that point, all your body fat has gone, it’s very visible.That body to dream of is not your friend here. As a survivalist your body fat, in moderation, is your friend and you must keep a decent store of it just in case.
Long periods of accumulation of toxins and fat soluble vitamins stored within the body will have a detrimental effect upon people during periods of stress and food shortage. When the body is pushed to fat storage utilization the toxins come out and you are sick. Under stable societal conditions this is ok. Under scarcity conditions you have a period of problem. Hang back for a bit and let the hunger pass then move forward.
Fasting is one more form of training not often discussed in SurvivalBlog. With fasting the body becomes accustomed to the initial cleaning, This cleaning is the removal of toxins the body has stored for so long. You will be ill for the first week, you will look horrible but it is okay. After that you will feel great and a wave of energy will come across you. This is the body supplying energy to your endeavors. This will only last as long as you have fat reserves to spend. Fasting removes the toxins and vitamins, but restores the vitamins as long as the toxins (smoking the most readily available toxin) is not restored. Smoking is not the only one. There are so many others. The cleansing is worth the effort if the body restores the fat and accumulates the vitamins. How do you know? You feel so much better than before.
In some cases the weight loss is permanent and some not. No matter, since the replenishment of fat to the cells is what you want prior to any crisis but without the accumulation of stored chemicals. Fasting is a short period where the body endures hunger. Experiencing hunger before a crisis is a valuable lesson. Hunger, going without food, for four days is difficult. Most people fail. But, to endure the hunger and let the body adapt has beneficial and some say enlightening effects. Hunger is not starvation. When a person feels hunger they are not starving. Starvation occurs when the body has no energy reserves.
Repeated training in fasting allows your body to learn that the current food stress is okay. The period of hunger is shortened. Again, once the feeling of throat hunger appears, eat, eat sparingly and you will come out of the hunger period cleaner, faster thinking and happier. – Wesley F.
By the way, for those who are currently experiencing addictions, this is another good way to kick the habit before the crisis, but only one habit at a time please. – Ex-Addict Faster
JWR Adds: Some words of warning: Always consult your doctor before fasting. Never fast if you suspect that you are pregnant. Never fast when you are living alone. Beware that you could have dizziness or fainting after just a few days of fasting, so never drive or operate machinery when fasting.