I became interested in fasting in 2019, whilst still study my naturopathy degree. I had talked to people who had fasted & the 5:2 diet was popular at that time. I did a research assignment on intermittent fasting & was amazed at the research & health benefits of fasting. So began fasting firstly through time restricted fasting, which is shortening your eating window.
I had never liked eating breakfast, so intermittent fasting works well for me. It gave me permission to not eat breakfast until I was hungry. I also changed my eating habits to eat more high good fat & lower carb, good protein & lots of vegetables. I'm not aiming for ketosis, as this for me is too restrictive. That's not to say keto diets are bad, there is plenty of conditions & benefits from the keto diet, it's just not for me. I find it too restrictive & I'm not interested in counting blueberries & restricting good amounts of vegetables in order to stay in ketosis.
I'm interested in the potential; reduced inflammation, stable blood sugar, decreased cholesterol, improved neuroplasty & weightloss that may come with fasting. As time went on & my body became more fat adaptive (better able to switch to fat burning), fasting became easier & I was able to do some 24 hrs fasts. I usually go from dinner to dinner. I think it is better to go lunch to lunch, but I like to have food in my system at dinner to ensure I sleep well.
One of my lovely clients had told me about her fasting experiences over the years at Aio Wira in West Auckland. So I recently tried a 5 day fast. I have done one 3 day water/herbal tea fast on my own, which I found difficult. This time, I prepared well in the lead up. I had a good 2 months where I ate really cleanly; low carb, low sugar, very little processed food, lots of vegetables, good protein & high good fat. I also increased my exercise, & rarely drink alcohol & coffee. The clean diet & lifestyle leading up to the 5 day fast meant I coped very well & was able to enjoy the experience without side effects.
Aio Wira is a special place. It is in the bush on the way to Te Henga west of Auckland. The only other retreat experience I have had was Vipassana Meditation retreats, which are also awesome, but ridged in structure due to the silence. So I found Aio Wira lovely & supportive as there is a structure to the days but only a few things are compulsory. The setting is lovely, in the bush with walks to the river. Daily yoga, great practitioners to book into for bodywork, talks & demostrations from talented people including TaiChi, flower essences. Group sharing at the end of the days to check in to see how we are all going.
I would start the day with a meditation, another woman or two would be in the hall from 6am - 7am, then we would walk down through the bush to jump in the river. Then walk back up & jump in the spa pool. Others would then head into sauna. That would bring us to around 7.30am with everyone one else waking up & getting ready for the group meditation in the hall. I start all 5 days this way & loved it.
The fasts have vegetable & fruit juices 3 x daily & a vegetable broth in the evening. The juices were delicious & we all helped make them, being rostered on at some point through the weekend. After 2 days with juices & broth I decided to take the time to full fast for the remainder of my time there. Some of the others on the group did struggle. There were a wide range of people from experienced fasters to first timers.
I had planned to do that if I was feeling well. It's so much easier to do whilst away from home & the fridge & normal life. So on the Sat night after the broth I started full fasting. The next day I took it easy, just going for a gentle walk, not as far as the other days. I still swam in the morning, By mid morning I was feeling tired & a little foggy in the brain. I sat by the warm fire in the lounge & chatted to people. After doing the afternoon yoga session I started to feel better. the next day I felt fine, so continued on the full fast.
At 48 hrs I did a urine ketone strip test & was 4.0 meaning I was in moderate ketosis. The next morning at 60 hrs I was deep in ketosis.
I broke the fast at 63 hrs with the group having breakfast of a baked apple stuffed with prunes. I was feeling fine, & if I hadn't needed to get home to the kids & to work the next day I might have continued the fast for 1 more day or at least to the 72-80 hr mark.
What to do following the fast is as important to slowly let your digestive system get used to food again. Miso soup & cooked vegetables were gentle additions. Some of the experience faster reccomended not starting with fat or meat or dairy for several days.
After the fast I felt great. It is a great reset to your eating. I'm trying to stick to the smaller amounts I need to feel full. I've signed up for my next fast at Aio Wira in Feb & highly recommend them.