Michael and friend, psychologist, budding mythologist and podcaster, Erick Godsey completed a three-day fast earlier this month.
It’s not all bellyaching (figurative or literal), there are all sorts of benefits, both physical and mental associated with fasting. That and I’m always a fan of mindful deprivation from time to time as a way to exercise your will and let yourself reset.
Note, there’s actually a continuation of this conversation on our Patreon page, listen here.
Also, if you want to hear more with Michael and Erick, here’s their latest full mind meld
Below you’ll find Erick’s account of the occasion –
The sculpture pictured is called “The Emaciated Buddha” and represents the six years of Buddha’s journey where he practiced as an aesthetic, reportedly going months at a time eating only a single grain of rice, or nothing at all.
I put this photo at the head of this article about my 72 hour fast because I’m fucking ridiculous.
As the humans who know me will attest, I have such a strong psychological addiction to food that this three day fast feels like how that statue looks (more because of my fucking ridiculousness than actual feelings of hunger and deprivation).
Fasting has been on my mind a lot recently. I’ve been intermittent fasting daily for a little over a year now, and since getting very interested in meditation, I started thinking about extended fasts to turn the volume up on my unconscious attachments to food.
This post will map out the scientific why, how, and what I did for this 72 hour fast. It has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done that wasn’t directly related to trying to impress a girl, win at some game, or triggered by metabolizing psychedelics.
I’m glad I did it, I hated doing it, and I’ll do it again.
- Why: The Harvard Study
- How: Tim Tim’s and Dom Dom’s Protocol
- Day 0: The Night Before
- Day 1: Delusional Optimism
- Day 2: Self-Pity
- Day 3: The Muthaphucking Countdown!
Why: The Harvard Study
The short of it is, other than sheer weight-loss, extended fasting has been found to improve your immune system, digestive system, and seems to trigger the growth of more mitochondria, which translates to more energy for you. I am not an expert on the science behind this at all, and there are a lot of amazing resources that dive much deeper than me.
Let me be clear, there seems to be amazing health benefits from fasting, but I am not qualified to weigh in on that. As a psychologist and obsessed self-analyzer, I chose to do a 72 hour fast to observe my mind and my habits.
How: Tim Tim’s and Dom Dom’s Protocol
Tim Ferriss and his even nerdier friend, Dominic D’agostino, PhD, have talked at great length about fasting here and here. By listening to these podcasts, when you come out the other end after 4 hours, like Neo downloading Kung-Fu, you’ll know more about Ketosis and Fasting then 90% of the population. We aren’t at the Matrix level yet, so have a notebook and pen nearby (along with your butter coffee and sardines.)
To extract the protocol, it looks like this;
72 Hour Fast
Night before Day 1: Eat a low carb dinner early in the evening to set yourself up for an easy switch into Ketosis.
Personal recommendation: Intermittent fast with butter and MCT oil coffee for a couple of weeks to train your body to more easily break into Ketosis. It seems that once you get into ketosis once our twice, your body is able to do it more easily. If the first time you’ve ever gotten into ketosis is your extended fast, you may have a rough time.
Day 1: Get out the door for a 4 hour walk within 30 minutes of waking up (to encourage the keto switch).
Before you leave, fill a large bottle of water with a pinch of salt, and another bottle with your butter coffee (coffee, grass-fed butter, and MCT oil).
While on walk, listen to podcasts, audiobooks, or make non-critical calls.
Drink more water than you think, keep moving, and pray to god you’re not visiting your family for the holidays and have to watch them eat delicious food mere feet away from your shrinking stomach.
Repeat this for day 2 and 3. The key is to keep hydrated, get electrolytes, and use the butter as the crutch your modern, food-addicted reptilian brain needs to keep it from fully hijacking your weak-willed consciousness.
Note: I know I am a pleb and noob and a sheeple for not doing a water fast and leaning on the butter. One day I will get to your level, but before then, have some compassion for my glucose-addicted nervous system.
Day 0: The Night Before
This must be how Jesus felt at the last supper. I knew this would be my last meal for the next 72 hours. This was death. This is the end. I will bear the suffering of all humanity after I finish these zucchini noodles and grass-fed beef spaghetti.
Yeah, I was full after one heaping plate, but I was about to die, so, I needed to eat until I hated myself.
Mission accomplished. After 6 servings disguised as 2 overly-stuffed plates worth of food, I accepted my fate. Shiva, destroyer of worlds, was about to meet me.
In hindsight, that first night was the hardest. I was dreading the next three days, and I also wasn’t in ketosis, so the sugar demon in me that whispers sweet excuses to get me to shove miniature chocolate into my face was loud and agitated.
Through self-pity and complaining, I made it to bed.
Day 1: Delusional Optimism
This was the best day of the fast. Since I normally don’t eat until 4 or 5 pm, the day went on as normal. I felt creative and clear and productive. I did some writing, some house cleaning, and enjoyed myself until about 5 pm.
5 pm is the moment I had to begin confronting my food demon. After 5 is typically when my day really starts to revolve around food. It’s how I regulate my anxiety about stopping the work day and attempt to relax (which I’m woeful at).
Every evening activity I have seems to have food as a complement.
Subtle feeling of anxiety…food.
Listening to a podcast…food.
Subtle feeling of psychological discomfort…food.
Going out in any capacity…food or drinks.
It was illuminating to see my mind just completely freak out when I couldn’t go to food as a crutch.
Side Note: I have maintained an undefeated streak at scrabble with my family, but on this day, my mother not only beat me, she fucking destroyed me by more than 130 points. Fucking “Quack” for 60 points, then “Quacked” for 64.
What. The. Fucking Duck.
Day 2: Self-Pity
This was the worst day. Due to some family stuff, I ended up getting five hours of sleep and found myself at an 8 am high school swim meet. With my coffee and water handy, in a daze, I made it through those three hours.
I noticed that my face would get flushed much more easily if I had to talk at all. What normally only arises when I feel embarrassed or angry, I felt happen at even the minor expenditure of effort. I’m not sure what this was but it was noticeable.
In hindsight (and with food now in my tummy) it’s worth noting that my thinking did feel more clear, settled, and sturdy. If I hadn’t reduced emotionally to an infant during my fast, I’d likely have found interesting insights. Maybe next time…
Once I got home, I sat on the couch and binged Hannibal on Amazon. I almost never sit down and watch a TV show, and it’s even more rare for me to binge-watch something, but I had no energy to do shit. Fuck your walk Tim, I’m going to sit here and watch psychopaths eat people.
I decided to go to bed at 7 pm. I was very tired and wasn’t enjoying consciousness. I slept nearly 13 hours, thankfully.
Side Note: I Redeemed myself at Scrabble on this day, but was unable to produce any dopamine. Went to bed directly after.
Day 3: The Muthaphucking Countdown!
Day three was easier than day two. I slept in as long as I could, and once I made my coffee, continued to binge Hannibal.
Every 27 minutes I’d shout out to whoever was in the room how many hours I had left and what I was going to eat. This got me through the day.
As the hour drew near, I began planning out how I would rejuvenate my withered digestive system. Last time I fasted I broke it with Wingstop and proceeded to regret it atop the toilet for 2 hours. This time I chose to be a little more discerning.
I broke my fast at 5 pm with fruit and veggie juice. Shortly after, I got a big ass salad from Panera. Then an hour later, I ate some homemade soup, then moved onto a sandwich.
In between bites and meals, I’d shout my praise to the gods. The flesh that once fell from my bones spontaneously regenerated, and my third eye burst forth from its calcified slumber.
I was back.
And no diarrhea this time.
I fucking hated doing this and I’ll do it again.
I pride myself on being aware of my habits and it turns out that some of my deepest unconscious routines and compulsions revolve around food. I honestly was not able to do much Metaprogramming work during this fast because I was feeling sorry for myself.
Next time I try this, I’m going to do it in solitude. I know that will create a container that will bring forth some interesting insights.
I think this is a great occasional technique to submit to if you want to see your relationship to food more clearly.
Also, get a buddy. Michael Phillip, host of the Third Eye Drops and cosmic trickster, is the only reason I made it through. We chose to do it together, and due to some unspoken primal competitive-camaraderie, I subjected myself to this hell and made it through.