Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Fasting leads to stress resistance, self-renewal, and regeneration (2014) (nih.gov)
359 points by 3eto on Feb 20, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 233 comments

A total fast is very difficult - intermittent fasting (two fasting days a week, < 700 calories on a fasting day) works well and is easier. Read these articles by Dr. Mirkin, a sports physiologist and cyclist who uses intermittent fasting:



There's a book about it (but read the review below before buying): The FastDiet - Revised & Updated: Lose Weight, Stay Healthy, and Live Longer with the Simple Secret of Intermittent Fasting by Michael Mosley


Before buying the book, read this review, which gives tips and suggests that the book is unnecessary:


I rather disagree with that short fasting time. The only real hard day is the first one; so just doing two days is a 'bad deal' I find, you get most of the inconvenient (the first day), and very little in terms of benefits. By the second day you are no longer hungry anyway, so why stop?

Perhaps there's lots of research telling you otherwise, but in my case, if I switch my body and mindset into 'fast' mode, I do it fully. The reason I prefer fasting vs any other calories reducing diets is that it's /binary/ and I don't have to count silly calories.

I think a good 'short' fast is 3 days, and up to 5 in my case, simply because I can fit it into a working week and have a fantastic meal on the friday evening.

The other thing to note is that the 3 and 4th days (might just be me!) I get a 'mental high' that is quite interesting. Everything seems sharper for a while.

Of course this is just my opinion, trust the doctors, they've been telling us lies for 40 years about diet and nutrition -- I'm sure /this/ time around they know what they are doing ;-) [sorry for the sarcasm guys]

I can relate to that "high".

I'm not sure about the science behind this but my best guess is that it's like the opposite of the drowsy feeling you get after a big meal:

You aren't spending energy on digestion, and the whole body and brain "wake up" and become alert, because, well, you need to be alert so you can survive and get more food! haha


• you've probably entirely emptied out everything in your intestines+colon by then;

• you've possibly starved your intestinal microbiome enough that it's stopped excreting any metabolic byproducts;

• you've probably starved any bacteria hanging out in your mouth/sinuses/tonsils/adenoids, and so breathing + drinking water + saliva has finally had a chance to actually get rid of those;

• any of the inflammatory compounds that get into your bloodstream from your food, have been removed, so your total tissue inflammation is lower than it ever is otherwise (like being on corticosteroids, sort of);

• since your liver/kidneys aren't dealing with a constant stream of input, they can 1. clean themselves for a change, and 2. clean "lower-priority" stuff out of your blood;

• and once they've done that, now they can just shut down and stop spending energy or consuming metabolites.

Presuming you're also drinking a normal amount of water,

• your blood pH and O2 sat. are likely maintained much more closely than they are when you eat food, which allows your organs and your immune system to function slightly more optimally.

This sounds made up without any scientific backing. You starve bacteria? That's now how it works, that's now how any of this works :)

It's a gloss: your intestinal microbiome is maintained because bacterial biofilms in the intestines constantly grow, but are also constantly scraped away by fibrous matter travelling through the intestines (the balance is sort of like bone remodelling.) If you eat only fiber while otherwise fasting, the scraping will occur without the regrowth. Combine this with a course of antibiotics beforehand and a course of probiotics (or a foecal transplant) afterward, and you can fully replace your microbiome.

I've been a long time IBS suffferer and I think yeast overgrowth plays a key role in my case. I took anti yeast medicines for a while and felt great. Should've taken probiotics at the same time.

Do you know of a book/source that sums all of these points up? (I'm going to try the 3 (5?) days strategy and understanding what's going on would add to the motivation.)

We know very little about the bacteria in our gut. Take it from someone who had to get surgery because of ulcerative colitis. Things might fuck up in your intestinal system and doctors who have been in the field for 20 years can only shrug. There's no book on that, I'd not suggest trying to fuck with your intestinal system (antibiotics + probiotics) like there's some science behind it. There isn't.

This is a very bad idea. Some healthy bacteria cannot be replaced once they're gone. You should only use antibiotics when the pros outweigh the cons, which is if you suffer from an infection.

I've never heard of a fiber only fast. What can you eat that only contains fiber?

Are these personal observations, or empirically established facts? For example - would liver and kidneys actually shut down when they don't have any work to do?

I was intentionally using sloppy non-clinical language. :) "Shut down" in the sense that the liver specifically is full of xenometabolizing enzymes, and those enzymes get replaced by the densely-packed mitochondria in liver cells as they get used up, requiring nutrients to feed said mitochondria. If those enzymes are consumed at a slower rate, those mitochondria consume your body's nutrient stores more slowly.

What would happen if the fast includes water, like in the 4-day vision quest fast (no food and no water) practiced by Native Americans?

Many things, but for a short list.

Massive headaches, mucus membranes dry up, hallucinations, and at 4 days there is some risk of death depending on conditions though this is generally minimal unless you involve sweat lodge conditions or where somewhat dehydrated to start with.

These typically start and end with short sweat lodges. I know quite a few people who've went through the experience but no testimonials about hallucinations or death (amongst everyone I know who did this and everyone they did this with).

I was wondering about possibility for kidney damage?

Done correctly there are few issues unless you have other medical conditions. But, you can also really mess things up, so I guess it depends.

I found the same, I've done numerous week long fasts, I think the longest was 10 days, and the first 1 or 2 days are the toughest. After that my body would stop craving, and I'd stop thinking about food altogether.

I've heard that when you get to the "other side" of a fast, that is, you actually begin starving, that hunger returns with an intensity that is incredibly hard to ignore.

The other thing I realised by fasting is how incredibly social the act of eating is.

I tried to work while fasting, but while I feel good and am perfectly able to have conversations, my brain doesn't work nearly as well when I try to think focused or solve hard problems.

So I stopped doing that.

For how long did you fast or when did you notice a decline in mental ability?

I've done up to 7 days. This was probably a 3-5 day fast.

I didn't notice any decline until I tried to solve a programming problem, and the part of my brain that normally jumps in and figures the hard stuff out just wasn't there.

It's an odd feeling.

I can concur. Used to do long fasts when I was in high school, so tried doing it again in the past couple of years, and suddenly I couldn't function at work.

That being said, I've successfully gone 18-24 hours without eating multiple times without any real noticeable detrimental effects on my ability to concentrate on programming or get work done, especially if I time it so I stop eating at 6pm one day and start eating again after 12pm the next day.

That's about when the body enters the ketosis state and the brain starts getting energy again, this time from burning fat.

> The other thing to note is that the 3 and 4th days (might just be me!) I get a 'mental high' that is quite interesting. Everything seems sharper for a while.

That's very commonly reported, actually. And I would say it lasts longer than that. I'm pretty sure this is a major reason why fasting is a common practice associated with meditation techniques, traditionally.

How much do you eat on a fasting day? You don't go zero calorie intake, or do you?

You don't eat. At all. Nothing. It's not that hard really, as mentioned, the first day is a bit hard, but after that you are no longer hungry anyway.. I have sometime a glass of fruit juice in the morning, coffee, and water.

The trick is to try to 'plan' ahead. Don't stock up on nice food, only do that on the friday!

How does your body react to the fruit juice?

That's not 0 calories though.

Fruit juice is a ton of sugar, it's the same as eating.

Personally, I think the maximum health benefit comes from zero calories. I'm able to function and work fairly well for the first 7 days. It's (typically) on day 8 that I start to feel weak and/or sick. I've gone to a twelfth day, and by then I feel like I have the flu. Which is interesting, because it taught something about a flu. I always thought a flu did direct damage, but now I think the worst thing about the flu is the interruption of the production of normal proteins that my body needs. And exactly the same thing must happen after 7 days without food -- the body is increasingly unable to make necessary proteins. It is interesting to me how much the feeling of a long fast resembles a flu.

Coincidentally, antifolate drugs like methotrexate (which explicitly halt your cells' reproduction, usually for the sake of fighting cancer) also have similar symptoms.

So zero calories in for 7 days?

This guy is describing an eating disorder-- Anorexia Nervosa specifically. Do not start doing what he is describing and put yourself on a similar path.

Heh, actually that's one of the few message on HN that wants me to start the message with 'LOL' because I actually did!

I'm french, I cook, I eat, and drink in pretty reasonable amount, and I'm a muscular 90Kg - with a flat belly, thanks to the fasting.

Last saturday I ate a 32 ounces steak in one sitting... Now that's some sort of Anorexia I had never heard of before! I do feel very bad for people who actually have anorexia, but please, don't insult them throwing these claims around.

Excessive fasting followed by binge-eating is literally the description of an eating disorder. I know for certain I won't be able to convince you of it because you already said you don't trust doctors-- but if I can get one person in here to not go down this path then it was worth the time.

I think the difference is that somebody with a true eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa will still see themselves as overweight regardless of how much weight they lose. To the point they look like someone who just walked out of a prison/war camp and they still see fat in the mirror where it just doesn't exist.

The parent comment sounds as though he his happy with his lifestyle and weight. What really defines it being a disorder is that the person is never happy and always feels they need to lose more regardless of what anyone around them says.

I agree with your sentiment that people should enter such fasting regimes with immense caution (it could be a slippery slope for some), but I also agree with the parent that he is probably not suffering such a disorder.

You can't actually /binge eat/ after a fast. You can eat a lot, but you will still eat less than an usual day anyway, you can't possibly eat as much as you've missed, it's impossible.

As I mentioned before, I actually eat quite a bit less /in general/ than I used to a few years back.

So nope, you haven't convinced me, far from it. My family is happy, my doctor is happy, and more importantly, I'm happy. You can safely go back to inventing disorders, I personally hope that the stories on this particular topic will convince a few more people to stop trusting the likes of you.

Dude, just stop it. This has nothing to do with anorexia.

Well, how do you define excessive? The guy seems to have a healthy weight, so it doesn't seem like he starves himself.

I'm not convinced it would be considered an eating disorder if you are physically healthy and fit, socially normal, and emotionally healthy (since the desire to fast isn't triggered by some crazy desire for weight loss but instead to achieve the supposed health benefits that fasting invokes)

A controlled fast is not an eating disorder. It's like calling prescribed medication drug abuse.

After seeing your user name, I'm having a bit of a hard time sharing your level of anxiety regarding intermittent fasting strategies ;-)

...also "(...) prolonged fasting cycles -- periods of no food for two to four days at a time over the course of six months -- kill older and damaged immune cells and generate new ones (...)" [1]

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8831739

You only eat on the weekend? Seriously?

Socially, how does that work for you? I get a lot of enjoyment cooking and eating with my family every night.

Do you do any strenuous exercise during the week?

Well I also enjoy cooking (a lot!), thus the need to 'reset' sometime. What I hate is counting calories, with the fasting I can pretty much eat as much as I like without having to worry, and when I feel I've done a bit too much of that, I fast and 'reset'.

With the years, I actually don't need it that much/that hard because it seems to have helped quite a bit with the amount of food I eat /anyway/ but I can still eat my way into a 32 ounce steak and not feel bad about it :-)

As far as family goes, when I fast, I go to my mancave during meals and do some tinkering so 1) they don't feel bad and 2) I don't smell anything!

Seriously, with just a little bit of preparation, it's surprisingly easy...

You still haven't said unambiguously how often you do this. You implied you can do it once a month, but didn't say if that's empirically roughly how often you fast.

Exercise... workouts... you haven't mentioned these at all, other than sport shooting which certainly requires some exertion but is not a workout workout. No workouts during fasts? No regular workouts at all?

Also, fruit juice is not exactly zero calories. You should figure out how many calories you're consuming. There's a big difference between "I'm not eating solid food but I drink juice and coffee to keep myself functional" and "I drink water for 5 days."

There is no real timeline for me to do it, it mostly depends if I feel bloated or not. So for example I hadn't done one in about 3 months, but I rather coincidently started one yesterday... It's always a mix of thinking I could 'use' one, and having nothing in the calendar that might interfere (social eating and stuff) AND having nothing spectacular in the fridge needing eating.

So, I'd say I'd do one every two months. I don't /workout/ these days, not as a workout might be seen anyway, I do some weights and so on, but more for tone than 'work'. And I don't do heavy cardio or anything like that. I do a lot of walking, and yeah -- shooting is surprisingly exerting: Lifting/shifting a ~4Kg gun around about 200 times with enough speed and precision is a bit of a workout! On a 'training day' I'll do that more like ~450 times. Thats a few repetitions :-)

I /used/ to workout a lot, and for a little while I did fast AND workout, but ultimately the workout seemed a little bit pointless, especially if you work out for controlling weight. It's a LOT harder to burn energy than to take it in, so my conclusion was to fast, instead.

The workout regime over the years has lead to quite a few injuries as well, and as I get older, I'm now paying for that. I'm built more like a rugbyman than a ballet dancer, so all the years of squash, running, weighted abs and so on leads to weak kneejoints, hips starting to play up a bit etc.

How do you work? Are you able to write good quality code while fasting?

Yes, most definitely -- as mentioned you stop being hungry anyway, and you get a bit of a 'high' as well, perhaps due to the typical drowsiness of digestion not being there...

My pet theory is that we evolved it, as hunter gatherers we probably had to develop a way to sharpen the senses in case the family/group was running out of food. Ie the Next Hunt can't fail. I think it's a cute idea. Very likely completely baseless :-)

I love that idea too! I'm going to believe that's the case

I agree, the social aspect is difficult. Going out with friends limits the times when I can fast. For long fasts, of more than 3 days, finding the time is difficult. I am only able to do 2 or 3 long fasts each year, because I only find time away from friends on rare occasions. If I had a family then I assume my fasting would be limited to once a year retreats of some kind.

Still, even once a year, I think there are great health benefits to long fasts. If you can go 10 or more days without food, surely that gives the body the chance to break down and absorb a lot of damaged cells that otherwise might be kept around?

Personally, for the social aspect, I'm just quite open about it -- I just try not to go to the pub/restaurant etc but if the topic comes up, I just claim I'm becoming a shaolin monk and currently working on my kung-fu. Try that with a serious face :-)

> A total fast is very difficult

The first three days are difficult. After that, something changes (no idea what) and the sense of hunger disappears. This is reported by almost everyone who attempts it.

I did it for seven days, and after the initial 3 day speed bump it's very easy. I would say you actually experience a strange kind of well-being - you feel more relaxed, more calm, more able to focus.

A few things to keep in mind:

Don't forget to drink water. Caloric restriction is easily tolerated, but water restriction is not.

Restart eating very slowly. If you go on a binge on day #1 after fasting, there might be trouble. Eat a very light meal for breakfast, such as rice with a bit of butter in it, and make it a small portion. Follow up with simple meals for lunch and dinner, mostly soft, well cooked meals. DO NOT BINGE, not even on days 2 or 3.

The longer you fast, the more difficult is the "restart", and the trickier the whole process. Most people should probably not go on for more than 7 days, and even then make sure you're in relatively good condition.

I still do 1-day fasts (only water is allowed) once in a rare while. The biggest immediate benefit I see is it reduces food cravings. It's like the sense of hunger is reset to a more realistic level. YMMV, maybe that's just my experience.

Have you tried total fasting and/or intermittent fasting?

I did a 3 day total fast a few months ago and it was a bit uncomfortable, but it was more psychological than physical. I'd never gone for more than a few hours without eating before, and that was very unsettling.

After a day and a half I sort of "settled into it".

For me any insignificant amount of food on fasting days causes strong desire to eat. I also discovered that a dry fast without any water or food for 48 hours is completely unproblematic but if I do drink during the fast, I tend to drink a lot.

Thanks for the links to Dr. Mirkin - I've always been interested in IF; nice to read about some of the evidence that it works!

Since there are a lot of "fasters" here, let me ask something. I'd like to create a fasting habit just to experiment, but can't understand how that's even possible when working out on gym daily. I'm not skinny and have lots of fat to burn, but I think my muscles would catabolyze as soon as I fail one meal. Am I missing something about fasting?

Why would you think that? Do you really think all your metabolism is so fragile that a single missed meal would set it on a different course?

Your body burns alcohol first, then carbs and finally fat. When you fast, you only have the last one - but you likely have enough of it for a few days (likely close to a month) before your body needs to break down muscle and convert it to carbs for fuel (gluconeogensis).

It may not feel very good in the first few days, you will need a lot more electrolytes, and it will take a few days before your body is doing it perfectly; fasting puts you into ketosis, with all that entails.

When I fast, I make sure to exercise more than usual, and especially cover all muscle groups (which I don't religiously do when exercising for fun). It is my experience that my body will keep muscles i use, but not keep those I don't. YMMV.

Also, listen to your body but do not extrapolate; the first two days of full fast may seem impossible, and if you extrapolate them to a full week may seem like certain death or madness; but after 48 hours or so, there's a phase change. I stop when I start feeling hungry - usually after a week or so, but once or twice after a month.

> but you likely have enough of it for a few days (likely close to a month) before your body needs to break down muscle and convert it to carbs for fuel (gluconeogensis).

That's not actually true, from my understanding. The body burns more fat than muscle, but muscle will still be burned if you are at a caloric deficit. I'd need to do some research to provide you with a good citation but this is something I've read about on multiple occasions while researching the keto diet (which I'm on currently).

Are you sure its muscle, and not a loss of LBM due to water/glycogen?

Ray Cronies, the author of hypothermics.com , did 24 day fast while properly measuring what body uses for fuel. It turned out that it was only fat with no any significant muscle loss. This matches from what I read experience of people doing even longer fasts for medical reasons. The moment when body runs out of fat reserves happens after about 40-60 days of fasting when one starts to feel very strong or even uncontrollable hunger.

You've fasted for a month once or twice, do I read that right? Did you do any kind of write-up about it, a blog, anything? Very interested in your experiences.

Indeed - and another handful of week-to-three fasts.

No, I did not do any write-up. /r/fasting and /r/keto will probably satisfy your curiosity, but I will mention the following which are not entirely common (or not commonly described):

. my B12 normalized from "very low, needs supplements monthly" which it had been in for 6-7 years at that point, to "slightly above normal without any supplement", and is still there some 20 years later.

. libido went away for the fast, but came back later

. felt perfect, exercised, etc, but friend observed that I was moving much more economically - e.g. that I was lifting my feet only about 2mm above ground while walking. I didn't notice that until he did.

You may be interested in this case study of a man who underwent a 382-day medically supervised water fast. He lost 276 lb (from 456 to 180 lb).


Not OP, but FYI people do this all the time on /r/fasting on reddit.

> I stop when I start feeling hungry - usually after a week or so, but once or twice after a month.

So first 5 days of your fast you don't feel hungry at all?

What was the reason you started to fast? I just wonder if there is any benefit of it for someone who eats healthy food, has no extra weight and good energy levels? It seems like most of these researchers are focused on already sick people and don't provide any data on healthy individuals, unless I am missing something, I don't see a reason to "reset" my immune system since it seems to be working fine.

Most people feel worst around day 2/3 when transitioning from glycogen to ketosis, after that you feel great.

Why should you fast if you eat healthy and have no extra weight? Two reasons:

1) What most people think is healthy is killing them. Even if someone eats paleo or keto, which are much closer to our ideal diet than anything else, they will still do things like eat a corn-fed steak. Corn-fed meat and fish is low in omega-3 and high in omega-6 and both of these things are very bad for you (omega-3 deficiency is the root dietary cause of depression as just one example). Yet, people think "I'm eating healthy".

2) Metabolically challenged cells are a definition of cancer cells. When doctors think your cancer may be metastatic they give you a PET scan. A PET scan measures the emission of positrons out of some radioactive glucose you're given. The glucose is disproportionately taken up by cancer cells for a couple of reasons, one is that they can't process ketones. Then they show you cool pictures of where the positron-emitting glucose is in your body, which is where the tumors are. If you fast, your glucose is low and those cells don't survive since there is no glucose. See 'Cancer as a Metabolic Disease' by Seyfried.

[warning: The above is not medical orthodoxy, but then medical orthodoxy hasn't made any progress on cancer in ~60 years]

> (...) medical orthodoxy hasn't made any progress on cancer in ~60 years

Are you crazy or am I reading you wrong? You are saying you are as likely to survive cancer in 2017 as you were in the fifties? (from a medical perspective)

Unfortunately this is the kind of garbage claims people make to try and sway others into going against "the establishment" or in this case "medical orthodoxy". It is how they get people to go along with claims with limited or zero scientific support. Just attack doctors as the enemy, claim they are lying for profit, or hiding some cure, and then peddle some fanciful claim of their own. Its great that people are researching the affects of fasting and all these bits, but none of these fringe diets/theories has come out yet as a surefire way to do health and wellness. If the claims seem unbelievable, they probably are.

Of course you are more likely to survive cancer now than in the 50's. There is not a credible person that would claim otherwise... "credible" being the proper claim. Look at any cancer survival rate and you'll see improvement. That whole statement makes me question every word he/she wrote because it is just so false. At this point his/her words need serious references for proof.

[Edited for spelling mistakes]

I didn't believe it either until I went and looked at the data (see my other comment). Rates are basically flat for most cancer for the last 50-100 years. Compared with any other chronic disease survivability over the same time, it's insane.

For more, as I suggested, see Prof. Seyfried's book and Travis Christoffersen's book, Tripping Over the Truth.

From your first link, quote:

* In 1975, the incidence rate for all cancers combined in the United States was 400 new cases for every 100,000 people in the population; the mortality rate was 199 deaths for every 100,000 persons.

* In 2007, the latest year for which we have updated statistics, the U.S. incidence rate for all cancers combined was 461 new cases diagnosed for every 100,000 people in the population; the mortality rate was 178 deaths for every 100,000 persons.


The improvements in survival seen since the mid-1970s reflect progress in diagnosing certain cancers, such as prostate cancer, at earlier stages and improvements in treatment.

/end quote

They're saying almost exactly what I was: Incidence hasn't changed much, and the survival rate improvement is just from early detection. Actual ability survive, treat or cure cancer _itself_ hasn't changed.

From the second link:


In the United States, the overall cancer death rate has declined since the early 1990s. The most recent Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, published in March 2016, shows that from 2003 to 2012, cancer death rates decreased by:

    1.8 percent per year among men

    1.4 percent per year among women

    2.0 percent per year among children ages 0-19
Although death rates for many individual cancer types have also declined, rates for a few cancers have stabilized or even increased.


A sustained 1.5 percent decrease per-year is not something that can be wholly attributed to early detection or reclassification. It is huge; a 1.5 percent yearly decrease means halving mortality in ~50 years. If this metric is true (and there's no reason to discredit it), then:

- Some other mortality cause is increasing and dwarfing cancer; or

- Cancer survivability metrics are being negatively affected by early detection.

In any case, it's quite difficult to make a strong case that medical knowledge regarding cancer has not progressed in 60 years and that outcomes are stable. Such a large decrease in cancer death rates must be fueled by some major structural force.

Most cancer therapies have focused on making people with cancer live longer, not on "curing" cancer†. A cancer that kills you after 30 years instead of 3 is still technically "a fatality caused by cancer", but add up two or three of those and you've saved one whole person-lifetime.

† The HPV vaccine has somewhat "cured" cervical cancer, but that was effectively an accident!

You're right in that specific case, I'd love to live 10 times longer, but it's very rare. As an example, here's a random graph showing longevity post-diagnosis from 1971 to 2007 for 9 types of cancer:


(You can find these graphs with some simple google images searches)

Notice that most cancers, the longevity doesn't change much at all in that ~40 year period. Personally I was expecting some dramatic improvements like the one you allude to (going from 3 to 30 years). It doesn't happen.

I think generally we somehow assume that because there's lots of money being spent on cancer and fancy machines and so on that everything must be better, when in the graphs we only see these various marginal improvements in some specific cancers. I think probably the number one reason for this mismatch is nobody likes to talk about cancer.

Your image comes from this report: http://www.macmillan.org.uk/documents/aboutus/newsroom/livin...

This is from a UK charity operating in England. England has poor cancer outcomes. The report was written before the "be clear on cancer" stuff currently happening.

It's worth reading in the context of this discussion you're both having because it gives a pretty balanced account.

> when in the graphs we only see these various marginal improvements in some specific cancers.

We see very good improvements in breast cancer, and this is partly because of the vigorous campaigning and fund raising. We've also seen big improvements in colon cancer, non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and Rectal cancer.

Those graphs are two-dimensional, squashing a whole extra dimension (stage of cancer at diagnosis) into an average.

My understanding is that most cancer research has focused on how to take advantage of earlier diagnosis by putting early-stage cancers into remission, or slowing their progression.

The "thing about cancer" is that it's somewhat exponential in growth: if you have cancer in one place, it's easy to treat; if you have cancer in four places, it might be in 16 places by the time you're treated those four.

It's like a manhunt for a criminal group that knows they've been made: they started out meeting in one building, but they're on the run, parting from one-another's company and spreading out across the world. If you catch the group when it's still in one building, you can just raid that building; but it's very hard to do raid a thousand individuals once they're living scattered across the whole world.

So early-stage cancer is "easy", and late-stage cancer is "hard"; and, insofar as we haven't come up with a brilliant way to solve the hard problem (a whole-body chemotherapy that doesn't hurt non-cancer cells) we've set ourselves to the task of combining screening with early-stage therapies to try to eliminate cancers before they can become late-stage.

You see that dotted green line that shoots way up the chart? That is for all cancers. The graph depicting ones that leveled off or appear to decrease are the hardest cancers to fight.. brain? pancrease? lungs?

I know you are smarter than this... Why are you ignoring the fact that all cancer rates of survival are skyrocketing by those measurements while the hardest cancers still remain hard.


I'm not ignoring it, it's there, it shows the median life expectancy going from roughly 1 up to 6 years. Great.

The problem I have is two things: First that most of that gain is from prevention and detection, not treatment. I really want the treatment to get vastly better like it has in the entire rest of medicine (give or take). Believe it or not, a 6-fold increase in 40 years isn't really that great of an outcome.

Second is the interpretation of the split. Your interpretation is that there are "easy" and "hard" cancers to fight. I think it's actually that some are easy to detect or prevent. At base, they're all as horrible as each other left unchecked. But, we can see a melanoma much more easily than a blastoma. Therefore the graph will fool us in to thinking there is progress at attacking cancer.

To tie it back to the books I mentioned earlier, to me, they have a much better theory for why all this is happening than the prevailing theory of "cancer is broken DNA" and "cancer is really complicated". The idea that a) it's mitochondria and b) it's actually quite simple, to me, seems to fit the evidence much better.

As someone who has worked in the cancer research field, anyone making this claim is at best misunderstanding the data available to them.

'60s but yes. The last innovation was the invention of chemotherapy, which I won't tell you about since it's not very pleasant but you can find the whole thing in 'Tripping Over The Truth' by Travis Christofferson.

If you look around your an find lots of graphs like this:


which show that rates haven't really changed since 1930, give or take.

The variance you see in the graph is things like lots more people smoking then not smoking any more, the prevention methodology of either finding cancer early or preventing high-risk people (e.g. mastectomies). But the actual chance of death hasn't really changed.

Compare and contrast to things like surviving anything else (heart attack, stroke and so on) and it's night-and-day.

> The last innovation was the invention of chemotherapy.

Um.. immune therapies, targeted genetic therapies, TIL therapies... all kind of a big deal.

Sorry, you don't know what you're talking about.

And rates say nothing about efficacy / quality of treatment. (And even when new treatments are not more effective, often the side effects are much milder (to non-existent): getting an extra three years sick and in pain, vs getting them as your normal self is a huge difference)

Edit: what I mean by that is that rates of incidence say nothing about how effective the treatments are. It can both be true that rates are going up (say, due to air pollution) and that treatments are more effective.


Reply to comment below: again, you are wrong. Jesus, stop. One example: Ipilimumab and PD-1 inhibitors have a ~20% effectiveness rate against melanoma, a cancer that was considered a sure death sentence just 15 years ago. Some patients have not had any recurrence in a decade, they seem cured, which was unheard of before.

And targeted drugs like dabrafenib buy most patients an extra 6-18 months, almost side effect free. With more of these coming out, it seems like soon it'll be possible to cycle patients even longer (some combos already are known to extend their effect).

This doesn't qualify as "major"? The ability to reprogram our immune system to kill cancer cells, or to reprogram pathways in faulty cells?

I'm sorry I should have said the last _major_ innovation that made any difference.

All the things you mention are innovations, they just haven't really changed average mortality numbers, which is what I care about.

Edit: the parent post changed their argument to being about 'efficacy' or quality of care. Personally, I prefer a cure to a high-quality and effective 3 months in hospital then death. Thus I focus on the mortality statistics.

Edit again: quote:

> This doesn't qualify as "major"? The ability to reprogram our immune system to kill cancer cells, or to reprogram pathways in faulty cells?

I'd define major as some large change to average mortality from cancer. The same way heart attacks are now vastly more survivable, or we don't get them in the first place. For example, in another comment, someone linked to the NIH's numbers


They show from 1975 to 2007 incidence of cancer going from 400 per 100k to 461 (e.g. up). I'd define a major improvement as that going to 200 or 100 per 100k people (e.g. down). The 5-year survivability has gone up for the same reason incidence went up, early detection.

Yes, there are specific therapies that improve things 20% here or there for certain very targeted groups. I hope I am in one of those groups if I ever get cancer, but again the averages haven't changed much at all, especially when compared to other chronic disease.

Are you sure that graph shows what you're saying? Say overall lifespans increase, and several other causes of death decline (infectious diseases, preventable accidents), and most cancers hit people who are older. Then you'd have more people getting cancer, which means that stable death rates imply that people are surviving longer while they have cancer.

Am I confused?

I think that's a fair interpretation but that we can make others. It was just the nicest looking of the graphs I found on google images for 'cancer mortality over time' or some query like that.

The central point I'm trying to make, which was a surprise to me as much as others, is that there hasn't been some dramatic decline in cancer like I expected. If you look at graphs for other things we see amazing gains in prevention and treatment that don't particularly occur in cancer. To pick one at random, the pancreatic cancer line on the graph above is basically flat.

And so, if it isn't changing a whole lot, why is that? The standard theory is that cancer is really complicated and it's DNA. The alternative theory is that it's the mitochondria(l DNA).

I'm not in some crusade against medicine, it just seems to make more sense to me and explains the lack of progress.

As Feynman said, the easiest person to fool is yourself, so who knows, maybe I'm wrong. But then I also worry about the story of the doctor who invented washing hands between procedures, and the story of the doctor who discovered the cause of stomach ulcers.

> To pick one at random, the pancreatic cancer line on the graph above is basically flat.

Pancreatic cancer mortality is heavily correlated with age. What happened is that people now live longer, and when older people get pancreatic cancer, they have a lot more probability to die.


Thanks for the answer. In the first reason to fast you are saying that people don't get omega 3 from corn fed steak. But when you fast you don't get that either? How is that a reason to fast then? I just feel like most people going into fasting because they have some health issue and try to fix it by doing fasting (I am not saying it does not work for them), I am trying to find someone who did not feel any problems and started fasting out of curiosity and see how it benefited them.

It's like having a bucket of water, when you eat it gets filled , then your body uses some of the water for energy. If you don't overeat the level of water in the bucket is always at the same, when you consistently overeat it overflows. When you fast - you can use the excess water you stored while overeating, it might be ok first couple years, but as since you are now eating less and your body uses water from a bucket more then you add to it - could it be that you will end up with an empty bucket at one point?

Your mental model of eating-as-a-bucket is broken, but you're not to be blamed since everyone thinks that and it's the official advice from most (all?) governments.

The calories-in-calories-out (CICO) model is true in a thermodynamics sense but it's like saying that Bill Gates got rich because he followed the money-in-money-out system. It doesn't really help us explain anything about Bill Gates. Or another, more damning, problem is this: We say a child gets taller because of hormones but they get fat because of calories. If you think about it for a while you'll figure out something is deeply wrong with the model.

This is a deep subject with a lot to say but I'd start with 'Why We Get Fat' by Gary Taubes. Then read his other books, then read Dr Fung.

But to answer you first point directly: What I'm saying is that people thinking they are eating healthy and actually eating healthy are two different things. Usually they think they are but aren't in reality, and fasting can help in a long list of ways detailed in Dr. Fungs book on fasting (and many other places too, his is just a good book). You can also find people on /r/fasting on reddit with a lot more detail.

Omega-3 only resolves depression temporarily by lowering the immune system (and thus inflammation). Resolving the underlying sources of inflammation and brain insulin-resistance is what helps depression, and yes, grain fed steak can be fairly inflammatory due to polyunsaturated fats, lack of glycine in the amino-acids, high cysteine and methionine and iron, and an imbalanced calcium:phosphorous ratio. Eating the whole animal would solve a lot of these issues.

Interesting. I'd love to read some more about keto -- could you recommend any good sources?

/r/keto on reddit is a great community to start from. They have a FAQ and so on.

For books, I'd actually start with The Obesity Code by Dr. Fung. It's not a keto book but it's very close, and you'll figure out that keto is metabolically very similar to fasting.


Past the two day mark into the fast -- no, I don't feel hungry at all; in fact, food (thinking, smelling, looking it) ranges from "meh" to slight aversion at those times.

The reason I fasted the first time, was that I was a little sick, and lost my appetite; this is common. What is uncommon with me, however, is that when I have no appetite, I don't eat. And despite feeling excellent starting with day 3 or so, appetite only came back after more than three weeks.

Other times, I started on purpose; on those times, the first two days are sometimes a little hard (but not really).

Whether it is good or bad for you - I suggest you try. It is unlikely to be harmful, and it might teach you something you don't know. Or, it might be a waste of time.

I wasn't generally sick or anything, but I did have low B12 before my first fast; And I have perfect B12 since. At the time it was a complete mystery to myself and any doctor I've asked, but since it was discovered that the appendix is a vault of good bacteria, and it is likely that fasting caused to body to release some B12-converting bacteria. YMMV, especially if you have no appendix.

> you will need a lot more electrolytes

How do you get those electrolytes if you are fasting?

The typical way is some sort of homemade bone broth, since store-bought broth is usually just colored water.

Some people will use zero calorie sports nutrition drinks or some kind of magnesium and/or sodium pill (since it's not just NaCl you're losing when fasting).

I added a quarter of a teaspoon of salt to water everyday, and took some magnesium pills every few days. Did not supplement potassium, though common sense says I should have.

I fast regularly. I am also compete regularly in powerlifting and olympic weightlifting competitions.

my fasts are total water-only fasts: zero calorie.

I continue my normal workout habits (lifting weights, obviously, and the usual run/swim/dance/other-sort-of-cardio) but tone it done a bit, depending on the length of the fast. If I am doing a 3 day fast things barely change.

If I am fasting for 5+ days my workouts that week proceed but I take a "deload" week. I take the next week following the fast a bit easier, and by the 2nd week I am lifting the same weights as pre-fast.

I don't know a lot about human metabolism or biology, but in my experience my muscles don't suddenly disappear after missing a meal. To repeat - I can fast for up to 3 days without messing up my training.

how do you keep your lift numbers up while being on a fast? i can barely manage while on a cut, can't imagine lifting on a fast

I'm a bodybuilder and I've been Intermittent Fasting now for about 3 years and have worked out 5 days a week most of that time. It's about all timing your meals properly. I work out in the evening so when I have a noon meal it gives my body enough time incorporate the food for fuel before the workout. My biggest meal is after the workout when my body is at it's anabolic peak. The funny thing thing is that you can still gain weight using this protocol and I've used it very well to pack on some additional muscle so it's not a free-for-all and you still need to eat clean 90% of the time.

Wait, I'm confused. You say you've been fasting, but then you also talk about working out 5 days a week and eating after a work out.

I thought fasting was like, not eating?

IF can just mean skipping breakfast or something. Apparently I've done it for years without meaning to by just often not being in the mood for breakfast. I wouldn't call it "real" fasting in the way you'd usually think of fasting, though maybe it does have health benefits. I'm skeptical—seems far too mild and too similar to ordinary eating habits to possibly do much, aside from maybe resulting is slightly lower overall caloric intake, which admittedly would be beneficial for most people, however that's not really a special effect of fasting per se, though it could still be an effective way to achieve it, which is fine.

It's funny that skipping break-fast is considered not fasting.

I think this thing that we do (we have to eat every four hours or we will die) has nothing to do with the normal state of affairs for most of human history;

And I'm not talking only about the palaeolithic here, but my grandparents time also.

Because the three meals a day mantra and "breakfast is the most important meal" is hype to sell more cereal, eggs, and milk. Skipping breakfast isn't fasting if you aren't hungry.

Sleeping is fasting, that's why the first meal of the day is called break/fast. It only takes about 6-8 hours for food to be digested, when you aren't digesting, you're fasting. Skipping a meal is fasting, doesn't matter if you're hungry or not, if you aren't digesting, you're fasting.

IF would typically involve keeping your feeding window to around 8 hours.

So fast while you sleep and skip breakfast. Eat lunch at noon and nothing after 8pm.

It's pretty easy and sustainable after a few days. Your body adapts and you don't hunger for breakfast.

I have been doing this since forever...never knew it was called fasting! Ok sometimes I will eat after 8pm on rare occasions.

Intermittent Fasting often means long periods between means (like 6pm-11am) but still daily eating. Sometimes it means a day of fasting followed by 2-3 days of normal eating. Either definition would allow eating after 5 workouts/week.

He talked about intermittent fasting

> but can't understand how that's even possible when working out on gym daily...

Fasting while working out is actually a common practice and has been used for a while. I myself tried it 3 months during the end of last year with outstanding results (dropped fat faster than ever).

My eating window was from 3pm to 9pm. Training from 6:00pm to 8:00pm. Only Tea and Coffee while fasting. I plan to get back to a fasting routine (6 months) starting in March.

Must read: The leangain's guide to Intermittent Fasting: http://www.leangains.com/2010/04/leangains-guide.html

...and you should also check Kinobody's channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7GnzSCDFdE

"I'd like to create a fasting habit just to experiment, but can't understand how that's even possible when working out on gym daily."

I fast twice weekly while maintaining a schedule of high intensity weightlifting (power movements, etc.) and BJJ twice weekly along with two unrelated cardio workouts each week.

On Mondays I skip breakfast. On Fridays I skip breakfast and lunch.

So these are not very long or extreme fasts by any measure, but they are easy to work into a routine and I definitely feel pronounced health benefits. Inflammatory symptoms drop noticeably after the 24 hour fast and I feel very, very fast and light on my feet for running and martial arts.

The 24 hour fast (on fridays) happens on my rest day, which presumably you have. I also make it easy by sleeping in that day. The shorter fast (Mondays) is a day that I only do a cardio workout.

I agree with you that multi day fasts would be incompatible with a high level of high intensity exercise. I think my single 24 hour fast each week is about the limit of what I could do and still maintain high intensity outputs like powerlifting and martial arts.

I strongly encourage you to try it. It's free. It gives you an extra hour or three each week to do things other than eating (and you avoid the context switch of activity-lunch-activity) and it's possible that, like me, you'll feel great.

That's why both resistance and cardio exercises are a common recommendation for fasters. Cardio to keep the metabolism up, resistance to lay new muscle.

But either way, unless you're 70 and immobile, you're not going to fast yourself to death. Eat well and stop putting it off.

You need to work through a short period of adjustment that may feel like hell. Changing your diet is never easy. You may have a headache or just feel drained the first few days but you will adapt.

I've said this before, but I've found to have more energy when I eat less food. Or rather, less carbs in particular.

Legendary Basketball player Hakeem Olajuwon would Fast (observing Ramadan) during games and would still perform as good as when he wasn't fasting: https://www.reddit.com/r/nba/comments/3yvhf2/hakeem_olajuwon...

A lot of Muslim soccer players (Ozil, Benzema) fasted during Ramadan when they were playing in World Cup, it did not seem to affect them either, but I am not sure if during Ramadan you can't eat at all or just before the sun goes does?

> but I am not sure if during Ramadan you can't eat at all or just before the sun goes does?

You don't eat and drink anything (not even water) from dawn (not sunrise) until sunset. After sunset you can eat and drink as usual.

Not a Muslim, but my understanding is that it's a sun-up to sun-down fast. There's typically communal meals to break the fast. I think strictly observed there's also no water during the fast, which would seem to be a real challenge to an athlete, both during the event and for recovery.

Your muscles will not disappear in a puff of smoke after one missed meal. However, it is true that you're running on stored reserves while fasting.

I would say it's best to avoid being totally sedentary while fasting. But I'd also advise against doing strenuous exercise. One would think this is just common sense.

My experience is that a 1-day fast (only water allowed) has very little, if any, impact on the muscular mass. Anything longer than that does have some impact, but it's pretty slow to manifest. Again, common sense?

I exercise while fasting during Ramadan. For me, the trick is exercising in the evenings after I've broken my fast. I also hydrate extensively during non-fasting hours.

I second this. I work out a few times a week. Mostly martial arts and doing it during Ramadhan doesn't affect me in any noticeable way. The first 3 or 4 days of the month are a little hard but after that, the habit forms and I don't really notice it.

I recommend just trying it out. Pick a day when your performance doesn't need to be perfectly top notch (though it probably won't suffer anyway.) And then just commit. For me, that was not bringing lunch to work: just my water bottle and thermos of black tea. I found no difficulty working out that day or the next.

I'm 6'0", 250lb., with certainly too much fat, if that context helps in any way.

I think that's a reasonable concern, but the data shows that this is not the case: https://intensivedietarymanagement.com/fasting-and-muscle-ma...

Just don't work out in the fasting period. Maybe even take a week off first. You need this periodically if youre training hard anyway or you risk over training leading to injuries.

worrying about your muscles catabolizing when you are trying to lose weight is one of the ways your brain makes excuses to keep eating and stay fat.

You are going to lose some muscle, its ok, you will still look better and feel better and perform better.

The catch-22 is that chemotherapy and cancer itself can reduce appetite and cause weight loss, so doctors demur when their more self-informed patients stumble across research on (temporary) fasting's protective effect (throw "cellular autophagy and health" into Google and you can immerse yourself for hours).

Malnutrition can in turn harm the immune system. Where's the sweet spot? Who knows, and the fear of malpractice suits slows down progress.

Malnutrition is about lacking essential nutrients. Fasting is very different than "eating less".

The body works in one of two mode. 1: use current energy, as long as you provide energy (eating) it'll use it and make you hungry if you're not giving it enough. 2: use stored energy. If you stop eating for long enough (some say 12 hours, other say 24 hours, I suspect it depends on what you have make your body used to, eg some long distance runners fast to make their body switch to fat burning mode earlier). The body has zero energy available in stomach/muscles, it'll then start burning stored fat ; unless you're very skinny, you can go on stored fat for a long time.

If you eat normal meals (no calorie restriction, you shouldn't be hungry at the end of the meal) between fasts, it shouldn't lead to health problems.

Recent studies show that the refeeding at the end of a 5+ day fast is benefic for your health, the closest thing to stem cells. Google "Valter Longo" for more information about it.

For general information about fasting, check Jason Fung material (blogs, youtube). He's a medical doctor who runs a clinic to cure patients of diabetes type 2 through fasting, and has put out a lot of material out there with lots of explanations.

The effects on mood and brain function is pretty much an established benefit. "... studies have built on decades-old research establishing a connection between caloric intake and brain function."


As someone that USE TO (Why is it you have more self-discipline in your 20s then your older years???) Fast about once a week for 24 hours (supper to supper). There are many positive benefits as a person when you go past 3 days also. There are plenty of studies out there about fasting and its benefits and risk. People who have never done more then 3 days nor have read scientific research seem to see this as a negative. The human body can go for more then 40 days without food so a few days actually has very little negative "malnutrition" issues.

The stomach takes about 3 days to shrink after that has finished you actually don't really feel hungry and surprisingly you would be shocked at the spike in energy and focus you get for the days 4-10. Longest I have ever done was 10 days but man food explodes with flavor. One of my favorite things is after coming back to food everything taste better and is more enjoyable.

I'd be curious to see how my body handles fasting, with some undiagnosed (ie, not visited doctor) issues with bloodsugar.

After growing up with massive sugar intake, and then ending up in my early 20s in a state where i would get bloodsugar shakes if i didn't eat balanced meals, i now live in a low-carb environment (just shy of keto) and am super super happy with it. High fats keep me so stable, i never have bloodsugar issues anymore.

I can easily skip a meal because i'm not dropping off a bloodsugar cliff where all i had to run off of were breads and sweets for breakfast, etc.

With that said, i'm still afraid of pushing my bloodsugar too far. If you have bloodsugar issues, are you just doomed from fasting?

Note that my issues were minor (imo), but again, undiagnosed. Things are better these days too, fwiw.

I used to faint on occasion and once was hospitalized because of it. They found that my blood sugar was very low (31) and kept measuring it even at night. It kept getting lower than the doctors liked and they made me eat bananas at 3am. However, they never found a explanation and eventually released me without any diagnosis or advise. So I always was concerned about my blood sugar.

About a year ago there was a similar article on here as this one. So I really wanted to fast, but had similar concerns as you have now. So I went out and got a cheap blood glucose measuring device as diabetics use. I measured my blood glucose over the course of a day and then tried intermittent fasting the following days. Everything was great. I felt weak and generally shitty in the late morning on the first day I did this, but that went away on its own by noon even before I ate at 1pm. Meanwhile my blood glucose was fine.

Maybe it will be different in your case, but why not find out? If you measure your blood glucose frequently and have good at hand in case it does get too low, what could go wrong.

Of course I'm not a doctor and you better talk to one than just trusting don't random guy on the internet.

I'm not sure it matters, but I had problems with what I thought were low bloodsugar, and later found out that it probably wasn't the case (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idiopathic_postprandial_syndro...). A lot of individuals have similar symptoms (feelings of weakness, shakiness, irritability that are cured by eating) but it isn't accompanied by lowered blood sugar.

I've been fasting for five consecutive days every other week for over a year now (and in various less severe combinations for the three years prior to that). I switched up to five days mainly as a result of reading Longo's work. (Valter Longo is the head of the group that produced this research)

I rarely get hungry now, and whilst I have in the past experienced the "food explodes with flavor" sensation you mention, I don't any more. If anything, the re-feeding is something of an anti-climax.

How can you do this that often? I mean, I can do it once a month, or perhaps once every other week for 2 or 3 times but I lose so much weight that I never /had/ to do it more than that; In fact, one 5 day fast usually slims me down to my 'happy' weight anyway (Which is still about 90Kg, I'm quite muscular!).

And I agree with the other poster about the 'tastebud high' -- I'd hate to lose that, as it's perhaps half the kick of fasting!

Are you sure you haven't developed some sort of 'habit'? With all due respect of course, just curious...

My main concern when deciding to do this was not to lose weight. I haven't done so. Around 65kg, which I have been since I was in my 20s. I'm 48.

And your concern is noted graciously, but no, I'm pretty sure it's not a habit. It may of course be a waste of time. Time will tell.

Did you notice any objective benefits to your body/mind since you started fasting? Or did you do it to lose weight?

What kind of drinks do you drink during that fasting period? I imagine I'd collapse after one day if I wouldn't drink soda or something high-sugar / high-coffeine.

When I was fasting for 24 hour periods (I really need to get back on that) I would drink black coffee and water.

I stopped drinking soda many years ago (apart from the odd coke at a party or something). Realised it was addictive. It just feels normal to always be drinking water now. I don't miss it.

Coffee, I turn my machine on in the morning and it's 50/50 if I remember to drink one during the day. I drink a fair amount of tea (PG Tips with milk, I'm English) though.

It's not uncommon for people fasting have a glass of juice or fruit. When he says flavor is more intense it means sugar as well. An orange tastes really sweet. When having heavily reduced calories your body reacts stronger as well. Hot tea is a big pick me up.

If you are a big coffee drinker then start during a weekend where you can get through coming off coffee. Headaches and a mind like molassis are a hard way to go through th work day.

As someone on low-carb and sometimes keto, sugar is so insanely sweet. I basically can't touch heavily processed carb foods as they just taste like raw syrup. Juices too, honestly. Pretty nuts.

Definitely. You wouldn't know it looking at me, but I spent a month eatin only vegetables. Not raw, but no sauces other than some olive oil. I ate a donut after and it was so sweet it felt acidic.

I often have a glass of fruit juice in the morning to get a bit of a kick. It also helps when you have a bit of 'metalic taste' in the mouth.

Otherwise it's coffee in the morning, I'm a developer after all, code isn't going to magic itself out of thin air, it needs coffee! :-)

Fasting means no calories.

No you wouldn't collapse, the body stores fat exactly for this reason. When you fast, eventually your body switches to fat burning mode.

Im addicted to soda!!! When I fast I only drink water.

> Fast about once a week for 24 hours (supper to supper).

One question: does that mean you take the supper before fasting, or the one after fasting, or none, or both?

I eat dinner around 5:30 PM and then I don't eat and only drink water till 5:30 PM the next day. This going to sleep hungry is for the birds. I realized that prior to midnight invention days started and ended at sunset so a full day fast was sundown to sundown.

That is 10 days with zero calories?

I would say that another huge impediment to some research is the pharmaceutical industry's incredible lobbying power.

you bet they want to make gosh darn sure that if something is going to help cancer they want to be able to charge thousands of dollars/dose for it

I don't disagree, but academia and government (which I realize are not always separate from corporate R&D) are enormous drivers of scientific progress. There's a lot of quackery out there which I think erroneously magnifies the conspiratorial suppressive power of the pharmaceutical industry.

My argument is simply this: doctors need more leverage to use cutting edge research in their practice. I am not in the medical field, and I don't know exactly how to accomplish this, but must surely lose a lot of organic ground-level experimentation at individual doctor-patient mutual consent, which would generate a wealth of epidemiological data with which to move medicine forward. It deprives patients of certain medical alternatives, and doctors of part of their scientific capacity as experimentalists.

The entire field of vaccinations began from an observation of smallpox immunity in the Turkish country side where folk wisdom was to rub scabs into superficial wounds of healthy children. When western doctors observed a stark decrease in the infection rate, this began experimentation that became the foundation of the modern practice. I don't think that this could be done today.

The extreme counterexample is the Tuskegee experiment, but the key element missing there was patient awareness of their own participation as an experimental control.

At least their remedies work, unlike holistic medicine that charges thousands of dollars to cleanse peoples' chakras.

Yep. Another great one to throw into google is Iodine and apoptosis:


The first two results are NIH papers on the topic.

Hi, can you talk a bit more about this? I have extremely low iodine and have been trying to figure out how to address it, so your mention of iodine caught my attention.

Also, when you say iodine and apoptosis my first thought is cancer treatment— is that what you're implying?

The RDA for iodine is 150 micrograms. I treated my asthma (lungs use iodine too) with about 1mg of iodine daily and 250mg of magnesium - YMMV of course. I was taking kelp supplements but needed 6 a day to get the amount I wanted. Another source is Lugol's solution - a few drops in a cup of water is several mg. I also use Lugol's for healing cuts, scrapes, and scars.

Iodine has also been suggested as a cancer cure for many different types - some strains of breast cancer in particular. This is because there are a couple pathways leading to apoptosis that require iodine to function - turns out your mitochondria need iodine too.

The funniest thing I ran across in all this was an article about the link between kelp and reduced breast cancer risk. At the end they said this should be investigated further because the author knew kelp had high iodine content and thought that would be bad for people. In other words, we need to isolate the anti-cancer agent and commercialize it so you don't kill yourself with too much iodine. Funny because the iodine is likely the anti-cancer agent, and is not bad for you in the slightest.

Oh if you try it, ramp up iodine slowly. I had some strange reactions the first two days. YMMV again.

>you bet they want to make gosh darn sure that if something is going to help cancer they want to be able to charge thousands of dollars/dose for it

Special $500 fasting pills which contain only water.

1) Tanya is an oncologist 2) Cachexia != fasting. Not much you can do about cachexia, it is an end stage phenomenon where the tumor is hijacking essentially all incoming nutrition. Feed the patient, feed the goober. 3) reversing myeloid bias (I'm dubious about this, even though Gregor was not the kind of fast and loose player that would fudge counts) would, if true, enhance innate and adaptive responses (subject to a million caveats because Immunology Is Really Fucking Hard)

If patients consent to trials and enough evidence accumulates it will become the standard of care. Of course it's going to be tough to patent not eating so don't hold your breath.

If this area of research interests you, here are some other resources from recent years:

Will calorie restriction work in humans? http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/aging.100581

Diet that mimics fasting appears to slow aging http://news.usc.edu/82959/diet-that-mimics-fasting-appears-t...

Fasting mimicking diet reduces risk factors for aging and multiple age-related disease https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-02/cci-fm020717...

Diet that mimics fasting may also reduce multiple sclerosis symptoms http://news.usc.edu/101187/diet-that-mimics-fasting-may-also...

Fasting Therapy for Treating and Preventing Disease - Current State of Evidence http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000357765

And so forth. There's a lot of information out there.

Anybody interested the doctors from the USC article on aging above and here[1] about simulated fasting now have a startup for it http://l-nutra.com/prolon/ and here https://prolonfmd.com/ though only available in US, Italy and Australia right now. It's a 5 day fast once a month for overweight people or every couple of months for in shape people. No idea what the price is.


The price is zero, because the necessary information to do exactly the same thing yourself with plain old food is available in the papers and in the vast number of calorie/micronutrient information sites out there online, and it is really, really easy to just go and do that.

The point of Prolon is that it is a way to obtain money from the regulatory/Big Pharma system in order to do more research into quantifying the benefits fasting and calorie restriction. Not that it is anything special in and of itself. It is just food, less of it.

Does anyone know why fasting seems to make chemotherapy apparently less harmful to your immune system?

"Multiple cycles of fasting abated the immunosuppression and mortality caused by chemotherapy and reversed age-dependent myeloid-bias in mice, in agreement with preliminary data on the protection of lymphocytes from chemotoxicity in fasting patients."

My theory would be that when in a fasting state the body is less likely to utilise the chemotherapeutic compounds in fasting tissues while the cancer instead steadily grows and consumes these drugs? I'm entirely guessing of course; maybe this could be triggered without fasting somehow.

I once read that fasting promotes something like "cell reuse" and the body starts breaking down old/damaged cells faster. I'll try to find the source (and this is not my field by any means)

I think you're referring to the process of cell autophagy and the activation of it by fasting:


For the "fasters" above who feel like sharing info, a couple of questions: 1. When you fast what food (if any) and drinks do you consume? Coffee, tea? etc 2. How long can you go on the above while fasting? 3. How old are you? 4. Do you exercise? If so what's the frequency and intensity? 5. What's your BMI, if you don't know, would you classify yourself as lean, normal or overweight? 5. Why do you do it? To lose weight? To "cleanse"? To feel better physically and/or mentally?

I'm asking all the above to figure out whether my profile (33yrs old, running every second day with ~30km weekly + basic work out of pushups, pullups, situps, etc, BMI 24) is anything like the profiles of "fasters". A year ago I've noticed I started putting up on weight and decided to switch to a low-carb diet, cut down on beer/wine and exercise regularly. I lost about 6kg of excess fat within 2 months (down to 12% overall fat). Now I have largely reverted back to my standard diet though I avoid sweets/candy, white bread/pasta/rice/potatoes in larger quantities and "processed" food in general. I seem be able to maintain my fat and muscle levels and sustain high energy levels through out the day.

1- Only water and tea, no sugar of course 2- The most I did was 3 days, I did that 3 times. Usually I eat my last meal on sunday, next meal on tuesday night, next meal thursday night and then on friday night I start eating "normal" till sunday night. 3. 40 years old 4. Not really, I walk my dog 3 day a week, I would say 40 blocks walking on those days. 5. My BMI is 22.9 5. I started doing it to loose weight, I was tired of eating 6 times a day and counting calories and picking what to eat and what not; I find a lot easier and efficient not to to eat. I now have the weight I want to have. I'm 5.3 and weight 132 pound.

I feel really good with that weight and also I love to eat and cook, so in the weekends I cook a lot and eat a lot of whatever I want, then during the week I level everything up with the fasting. I try to avoid junk food but that's just because I love to cook my own meals.

I weight myself naked after my morning bath every weekday, I've noticed that with just 1 day of fasting my weight goes down at least 4.5 pound. I love having total control of my weight and being able to loose weight really fast.

I tell this to everyone who asks about my fasting: TRY IT, it really makes you feel very good and energetic. Most people say "I couldn't do that" but they don't even try... I think that anyone can be 24hs without eating food.

Whatever info you need just send me an email to my username at gmail.

I've been occasionally fasting, sometimes for several weeks. I do long fasts about once every 2 years.

1. I drink only water during the fast. Don't even use toothpaste for brushing teeth (use baking soda).

2. I usually go about 10 to 12 days. The longest I have fasted is 27 days. It really is not that diffucult physically, once you have the mental aspect sorted out.

3. I'm almost 28 now, started fasting when I was 23, I think.

4. I do a little light exercise to loosen my joints and some Yoga. During a long fast, I find I have enough energy to run 10 miles on some days, but on most days, although I feel alert, can't do intense exercise. Anyways, it is better during this time to let the body use its resources for detox.

5. My BMI fluctuates between 24 and 26, so I could be borderline overweight, but only for a few months at a time, usually during the holidays.

6. When I fasted the first time, I wanted a quick way to lose weight. But really, there's other ways to lose weight than water fasting. I find that I easily lost 1.5lbs per week with calorie restriction and upping proportion of protein in my diet. ( I usually keep it between 1500 to 1700 cals, I'm 5'5").

I tend to feel very good after a fast. The real challenge is you are doing if for weight loss is developing discipline after the water fast. If you really are going to fast, I would advise you to avoid the exercises you mentioned. You will lose strength, but will be able to quickly get back to your previous body weight and strength within a few weeks after the fast. Hope that helped.

I've been doing alternate day fasting (eat for 16 hours, fast for 32) for about 4 or 5 months. I've lost 32 pounds so far, ~225 to ~193. I am shooting for 175 ("normal" BMI) and/or being able to comfortably fit into my size 32 pants & shorts.

1. Coffee or half a bouillon cube in hot water.

2. The longest I've gone is probably 48+ hours with no calories. It gets easier the farther into the fast I am.

3. 31

4. On my fasting day I use an elliptical for 30 min, upper-middle(?) intensity. Like 140-150 BPM?

5. 5'11" 192 pounds.

6. To lose weight. Inadvertently, I learned that eating is not required for my body to function, pyschologically. Like, I thought "How can I work out or hike if I haven't eaten?!". I know food is required over time, but my pyschological need for food has lessened.

My big, stupid cheat is that I use nicotine (Juul), which makes fasting practically easy for me. I would drink more coffee but more than 1 or 2 cups a day makes me feel unwell. My plan is to stop using nicotine when I'm done fasting... we'll see how that works out. I did stop smoking cigarettes cold turkey.

1) I drink Yerba Mate, it suppresses appetite and also makes me feel good causes of the sorta caffeine. I also just like drinking. 2) Not sure how long but I normally go about 22 hours. I have done two days in a row, so I just eat dinner essentially. 3) 29 4) Yes, I climb, mainly indoors. I fast every Tuesday, sometimes Monday and Tuesday and I always climb on a Tuesday. It has no negative impact on my energy levels or strength. 5) For all the reasons you mentioned! And I also like to experiment with myself :) So I once only drank MCT oil, Whey and double cream for breakfast and lunch and then LCHF dinner for 6 months, so spent the majority of 6 months in ketosis! That was cool.

I honestly look forward to my fast every week, so good luck!

Look up Alternate Day Modified Fasting. There's been some research by a nutritionist named Krista Varady on it. It's pretty simple: every other day, only eat 500 calories, then do whatever the next day. It's much easier than a total fast and 90%+ of the weight you lose is fat (compared to ~75% for simply counting calories). You can workout on the days that you eat. For maintaining (rather than losing) weight, you can increase the calories on the fast day.

I was interested in what their definition of prolonged fasting was, so, FYI:

> Prolonged fasting (PF) lasting 48–120 hours (Introduction)

Thanks, I was looking for this.

That is between 2 - 5 days which is a wide span.

I could probably sustain it for 2 days (a weekend, don't have to be "all there" for work etc) but 5 would be a miracle so I wish they were clearer on which one it needs to be.

Most people think (like I did) that because they think a sugar crash is the same thing as hunger. Hunger doesn't feel anywhere near as bad. Once you're in ketosis, which is the 72 hour mark (give or take) of water-only fasting you actually feel great. And if you do a keto or paleo diet you won't feel bad in the first place.

My longest fast was 9.5 days and I felt great the whole time and lost a ton of weight amongst various other benefits.

Remember, humans used to fast all the time and it was just normal because either food was unavailable (there didn't used to be unlimited pop tarts for everyone) or for spiritual reasons. Both what we eat and when we eat were all invented in the last few hundred years for the most part (chicken was about 100 years ago, breakfast was 2-300 years ago depending when you count it). Most of these inventions have been a bad idea.

Come join us on /r/fasting and /r/keto on reddit, or read Dr. Fung's books on obesity and on fasting, or Gary Taubes various books, or Dr. Wahls books, or Prof. Seyfried's textbook.

I agree with that; I do my fasting during the working week, my typical one is 3 to 5 days, starting sunday evening and more often than not, finish by a fantastic meal on the friday evening.

I haven't tried longer than this, as it suits me. As I mentioned in another post, I get a nice mental high on the 3 and 4th day, but the 5th I'm actually quite happy to hit the food again. Oh and crack a beer :-)

I'm fairly sure I could continue, but I feel that my physical performance would decrease, while the typical 5 day one I don't have any sign of fatigue -- I do tend to sleep a bit more tho.

I do quite a bit of clay pigeon shooting -- that's a sport that requires good speed/strength and mental acuity-- and during a fast I feel quicker and will likely do a better score than on a normal weekday.

There seems to be a lot of different fasting protocols these days.

What works for me is to only eat between 3pm-8pm.... and here is the big one I only get to eat if I have worked out that day!!!! (usually right before. obviously the workout has to be before you eat or else you might not follow through). Incidentally but not intentionally this sort of mimics what happens in the wild for animals (not really humans because homo sapiens have been able to store foods since the beginning of the species).

I lost 30 pounds doing this. I decided to stop because I had a son recently so it was difficult to workout. So now I just do the 12pm-8pm lean gains method.

I've also lost a great deal of weight (~75 pounds) with intermittent fasting, though my hours were from 12pm to 6pm. The biggest benefit didn't come from the fasting itself, but from strictly adhering to the window that I had set. If I can only eat between 12 and 6, then by default I can't graze on food in the morning or the evenings, which was the biggest source of excess calories for me.

This is a personal anecdote, but I went through about 10 years where I was getting colds and flu-like symptoms several times each year. I did a 72hr fast almost three years ago now, and have only been stay-home sick once since, which happened just a few weeks ago. Friends and family have commented on my health, the difference was so noticeable. I am planning on doing it again soon.

Interestingly, I stored my bone marrow stem cells during this stretch of good health, which includes the long-term hematopoietic stem cells mentioned. I plan to transplant them to my older self later in life. I hope the benefits transfer as well. :)

That made me do a cartoonish head-shake. Is that something you can request from your physician? Is it the same process as donating marrow? How much does it cost? How long does it take? Is there science on this technique?

>Is that something you can request from your physician?

In MI, NC, and CA atm. Full disclosure, I co-founded the company: https://www.foreverlabs.co/.

>Is it the same process as donating marrow?

Like an aspiration, but less. 60cc are taken from your pelvis on your lower back under local anesthetic. It takes a few minutes.

>How much does it cost?

$3500 + $250/yr

>Is there science on this technique?

Yes. There has been an explosion in clinical trials using the MSCs (and HSCs to a lesser extent) for treatments of ailments ranging from osteoarthritis to heart disease. Personally, I've been developing therapies bone mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) for stroke, brain injury, and other neuropathologies for 15 years. You cells diminish in number and quality with age, so it makes sense to store young ones for treatment later.

But, beyond that, there is evidence that young-to-old transplantation increase lifespan: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23967009

We are currently doing our own young-to-old preclinical work in mice, with the aim to do the first autologous young-to-old human trials.

I've been IF for about 5 years now, eating once a day in the evening mostly. Have had one minor cold in that whole time, where as before I would get at least 3 pretty bad colds a year.

What is your IF schedule?

Fasting is normally associated with religious devotion as described in this article: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1986/04/the-law-of-th...

However, even while describing the spiritual benefits of fasting, this LDS leader also points out what science has said about the benefits of fasting:

"Fasting is also beneficial to us physically. Some time ago I read an article in Science News written by Charles L. Goodrich, which stated that the advantages of modern eating habits extend far beyond the cosmetic. Numerous animal studies have demonstrated that caloric restriction early in life leads to an increased life span and reduces the risk of certain diseases.

"There is also evidence of health-promoting effects of periodic fasting. Some experiments have shown that periodic fasting not only promotes a longer life, but encourages a more vigorous activity later in life."

According to the study it was fasting for 24 to 120 hours or 2 to 5 days. Yikes. Is that without food and water or just without food?

Drinking only water for only 24 hours or even 36 hours is not that difficult if you have decent self-control and no medical problems.

Personally, I stop being hungry after about 18 hours and it only returns after about 36, which is as far as I've ever gone.

I did the 72 hours fasting 3 times, just to see if I was able to do it and because I read that 3 days it's something like a reboot of the inmune system.

I do this every week: last meal on sunday night, next meal on tuesday night, next meal on thursday night, next meal on friday night and on saturdays and sundays I eat all I want whenever I want. During fasting I only drink water or tea.

I've been doing this for a year, I feel great :)

That's also certainly a way to cut down on ones grocery bill. I'm amazed at self control of some People.

Personally, I find absolutes like "I will not eat period" or "I will eat only pre-packaged x, y, and z for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, respectively, every day" much easier to follow than more vague calorie-counting rules.

So during week days(Mon to Friday) you eat only 3 times?

Yes, that's correct. On those 3 times I eat whatever I want, imagine that I have plenty of time to plan that meals :)

Yeah that self control bit is the hardest part. Kudos for being able to go 36 hours.

There seems to be a barrier you cross when you start getting hungry after N hours after your last meal (when it would be your next one), but suddenly you're not hungry anymore

For me it goes in waves. Hunger stops for a few hours, then comes back. To be honest, social life is the hardest part for me, I'm not going to watch my family eat and not partake!

Social is the hardest for me as well.

I can forget coffee when I am alone but I'm almost never alone.

When I was younger I used to be able to go a few days without food. I think my record was sunday after dinner to friday sometime.

Starting by skipping the local evening meal made it easy to skip breakfast and once I had skipped those the rest was easy.

I'd cheat a bit by drinking a glass of juice at breakfast and/or lunch but thinking back it might have been easier without.

I start being hungry after 24 hours :)

But I'm convinced it's only ghrelin. I've numerous times changed my eating schedule, and my hunger adapts after at most two weeks, usually much faster.

I've done 24. It just takes practice. It'a hard at first, and gets easier the more you do it. Eventually it's just a thing you do.

I drink water (a lot of it) and a couple of black espressos. 0 and ~2 calories each respectively.

without water would be extremely dangerous/fatal

Right. It just wasn't clear from the article. But I'm assuming it's without food.

Surely. 5 days without water can be fatal for healthy humans.

Most of the studies I've come across regarding fasting are done with mice. I wanna see someone test this in production by using human test subjects!

About studies over 20 years with human patients: http://apache2.pum.edu.pl/~fasting/bur_ab.doc

There are a few small-scale case studies done on human subjects, but they're fairly recent. I was just reading one late last year on ~10 subjects. The experimental group (5-6 patients) had equal or better response to chemo and experienced fewer side effects than the control.

For obvious ethical reasons, though, I think they can only do this with patients with a terminal prognosis. Nevertheless, in my experience, you'd get a lot of volunteers from anybody undergoing chemo.

Results will be available in ~90 years.

If at all: some of these findings were implemented health practises roughly 100 years ago (see for example iodine as mentioned above).

If I skip just two meals I get irritability, acid reflux, upset stomach, headache, and at worst, aggressive.

The acid reflux can sometimes get so bad that my ears start to get clogged I get other ENT symptoms.

I don't see how people can do it. I can't.

You might want to go to the doctor with your acid reflux. I personally have to take an anti-acid everyday else it comes crawling back at me. Things like often clearing your throat can be a sign of it.

Thanks. I get that throat clearing, I probably should. I am otherwise very healthy and active so now that I think about it, may be some underlying cause.

Keep going, it gets better after it gets worse.

It is interesting that some religions include fasting as part of their rituals and traditions.

Specifically I am familiar with Eastern Orthodox https://orthodoxwiki.org/Fasting some of it is just dietary restrictions no meats, sometimes not animal products, etc. And strangely it often includes vegetable oils and wine as well. Monastic communities would practice a total fast sometimes from what I remember.

Wonder if somehow health benefits observed over the centuries ended up codified as religious practice somehow to benefit the followers.

I think that people overlook the social barriers to adopting even intermittent fasting. My partner (a doctor) thinks it's bonkers and dislikes it when I want to skip meals that we would normally share (family dinner). That's not an insurmountable barrier, but combined with nights out with friends, drinks after work, etc...my fasting routine can get worn down nothing after a few weeks. I hope as the health benefits get popularized, we see some cultural shifts that make it more acceptable in social settings and family structures.

Unfortunately, I dont think this will happen.

So much in society revolves around delicious food and relaxing beverages.

How would a business make money from someone fasting?

There's new studies coming out more often now on the life-extending benefits of caloric restriction (in mice). I think there was a study on some kind of simians too.

Full title: Prolonged Fasting Reduces IGF-1/PKA to Promote Hematopoietic-Stem-Cell-Based Regeneration and Reverse Immunosuppression.

By 'prolonged' the authors mean lasting 48–120 hours.


Although intermittent calorie restriction (CR) has been shown to lower IGF-1, this article shows that prolonged CR does not affect IGF-1 levels. However prolonged protein restriction, especially animal protein, _is_ shown to reduce IGF-1 levels.

I'd be curious how similar the results of being in nutritional ketosis would be. I've been studies in the past looking at rigorous caloric restriction benefits that demonstrated that people in isocaloric nutritional ketosis got most of the benefits of the restriction group (while not having the misery long term caloric restriction).

I enjoyed this recent interview with Valter Longo on the subject of fasting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6PyyatqJSE

They discuss underlying mechanics and various clinical trials and much more...

our genetic makeup has adapted to famine and fast, if you don't fast whatever hormones we create during fast are missing from the body.

That's it - fasting makes sense from evolutionary biology standpoint - the food was scarce up until modern era, and thus the obesity was quite uncommon. If one was lucky enough to get a meal, that could be his only meal in a week or a few days at least - that's exactly the fasting cycles that were part of the everyday life.

Mainstream religions have been advocating various forms of fasting for centuries. Thank you science for explaining why and how it works.

AFAIK this article doesn't suggest getting dehydrated at any point. That's just evil.

Harper's ran an article on this topic in 2012, including a focus on fasting during chemo. It's paywalled, however: http://harpers.org/archive/2012/03/starving-your-way-to-vigo...

It seems to me that the hardest part about fasting is tolerating the cravings for food.

Do people who fast resort to cheating the hunger urge (prescription pills, foods with no nutritional content, etc)? I know there is a well known and highly-available recreational drug that works extremely well for suppressing the urge to eat.

+1. Also, What's often ignored is that many people have inherent problems with hunger, for example due to an untreated adhd.

Is there a reasonable alternative candidate for the "hard part" of fasting?

I have practiced intermittent and prolonged fasting in the past (for approximately 6 months each), but had to stop on account of dramatically increased irritability, especially surrounding planned fast breaking meals.

How do successful fasting practitioners manage the impact on their mood and restraint?

I feel irritable when I am hungry. I heard that irritability is from the swinging blood sugar level and Ketogenic diet helps in reducing the swing.

This is interesting to me, but I have not tried any of this.

Maybe anyone with more Ketogenic diet experience/knowledge willing to share his/her experience?

I would be interested in hearing more about similar experiences too!

It's your mindset perhaps? Do you resent something in particular? Personally I make it an 'event'. After 4 of 5 days fasting, on the last day I go shopping and prepare myself something /special/ and in quantity!

Because, as you know, food never tastes as good as after a fast, the effect on the gustatory papillae is nothing short of amazing, it's like being high.

Seriously, HALF of the kick I get out of fasting is /that/ high I get when I stop :-)

Perhaps try to get into a 'Buddhist monk' personae if you feel any stress, and relax! I often tell (jokingly) people who wonder at me fasting that it's to improve my kung-fu! :-)

Not a fan of fasting, But I get irritable if I wait too long to eat. That disappeared while I was trying keto

Staying hydrated and getting enough sleep helps me.

Caffeine also helps boost mood and energy levels while suppressing hunger

In south india, we do intermittent fasting i.e. eat in night and the till next afternoon 1 PM do not eat anything. This is on no moon day + another day for most people who follow. But there are people who do this for 2 to 3 days a week.

I'm very interested in fasting. I have been doing IF for 4 months and it works out great. Has anyone experience with prolonged fasting (3 days+) and auto immune diseases, specifically Alopecia?

Chill out, this is about "fasting on stem cells", not on people :)

If I don't eat every 4 hours I turn into a broken aggressive mess!

Aside from the "science" that happens inside the body, has there. Has there been an overall study where you compare the overall life span of a twin? If you are fasting like a 3rd worlder, their mortality rate seem high.

If you're comparing a lifespan to someone in developing areas, meal tempo is probably no more than a footnote compared to inaccessibility of medical care, safe birth, safe food and water, occupational hazards, destabilization and violence, etc.

...in mice.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact