Chasing autophagy and reflection on a 3-day fast

January 2018 ยท 5 minute read

Fasting is older than Jesus and as new as paleo diets (get it?). The Nobel Prize in 2016 was related to autophagy, which is brought on in humans by fasting. After I asked my friend Kyle, who runs a welness blog and a compost company and is my all around source for healthy living, about wanting to do a short fast, he said “There are 10,000 types of fasts out there, give or take 1,000,000”. :

The fasting chat some frigid Chicago chat about fasting, complete with Siri text-to-speech-while-walking errors

This is my 3rd time trying a fast, and it was brought on by an afternoon at the public library scan of Tim Ferris’ Tools of Titans. Then I checked the book out. I blame Naval Ravikant for my checking out this book.

Anyway, here I go. The basic tenets of the fast I chose are a modified version of the fast in TF’s book, which is reposted here:

Day 1


  1. Wake up whenever, sleep as late as you can, have bulletproof coffee (MCT oil, some ghee, blended with coffee)
  2. Go on a 4 hour walk, drink 2 liters of water in as you go, with fresh lemon squeezed in and some himalayan salt. “The idea behind the walk is that you use up your glycogen stores, forcing your body to move quicker into deep ketosis. The quicker you get into ketosis, the less time you spend feeling sub-optimal.”
  3. Keep drinking water all day, have a tablespoon of MCT oil every few hours, up to 4 maximum.


2:41pm: I actually feel pretty good, I started getting super hungry at 12:30 and then it has kind of passed. I was walking and on the phone for 4 hours, which was not bad. Work, friends, catching up. Seriously though, my legs are stiff now behind the knees. A ton of walking.

I’ve had already a pretty cool revelation though, I’m interested in diving back into counter point. My work to study the Goldberg Variations over the past 2 years has helped me ‘physicalize’ some of the ideas behind counter point, going deeper with a composition teacher would be beautiful.

Day 2


  1. Test your “ketones”, go on a long walk if your “ketones” aren’t high enough (over 0.7 mmol), keep drinking water + salt + lemon.

Commentary / things I’m not doing: According to TF, you’re supposed to use this blood testing machine to see where your keytones are at, and if you’re not at the right spot, go on a long walk. I’m not going to buy that machine or the C8-only oils or the keytone beta-hydroxybuterate whatever stuff that he suggests from this doctor guy who is shilling a product he has a patent on whose design and advertising is eerily reminiscent of the spammy affiliate marketing industry diet trend guys.

All that said, I trust TF enough to give 3 days to this diet for sure, and there’s significant research to support low-carb high-fat type diets, I know smart people who have entertained the keto trend, and I’ve personally noticed tremendously less brain fog and general unhealth when avoiding processed starches and carbs.


I didn’t sleep much last night. Not sure why. Coach Tim suggests in Titans that maybe I didn’t have enough electrolytes, so I’m upping the salt and lemon in my water today.

8am - 11am: I feel horrible. Super nauseous and multiple times thought I would throw up. Took a anti-nausea RX pill otherwise I was headed for a bowl of ramen

11am - 12pm: My dreams of journaling, reflecting, reading books, meditating during this fast are out the window. I’m brain dead and tired and very uncomfortable. Back pain, headache, weakness. So, I’m half-working on Slack and doing emails, and watching anime. Yep. Like a real American middle class nerd adult.

12pm: Have to get out of bed. Feeling like a vegetable brain. And, my lower back hurts. To be more specific, feels like my kidneys hurt. Chief Tim says it maybe related to uric acid building up in my kidneys due to muscle wasteage. Hmm. Could also be I’m sore from walking 15+ miles yesterday. Either way, having a small bulletproof coffee, a multi-vitamin, an extra tablespoon of MCT oil, and some salted lemon water.

12:15pm: Feeling better. My brain still doesn’t work. More salty lemon water. Maybe too much salt. Time will tell.

1:41pm: I kind of wish I had Coach Tim’s blood testing machine so that i could see if my ketones were up, if only just for the motivation. My productivity is low and my body is highly uncomfortable. Am i doing it right?

2:22pm: Additional research is saying that bulletproof coffee (in my case, 100-150 calories worth of Ghee in coffee) probably slows down autophagy. This makes sense. Also, this post is giving me some fuel for the motivation fire I need to continue If our sole goal was to maximize benefits of fasting, a fasting period of 3-5 days is probably the best way to do this before running into undesirable effects (stress on endocrine system, etc).

Day 3


  1. Have MCT if you need. Keep drinking water. Break fast however you want.


Woke up miserable. The nausea set in pretty fast. Took a few hours to clear.

1:12pm: I had some ginger tea which I think helped bring the nausea down. There’s no mental clarity or acuity. There’s no feeling of lightness. Just general discomfort - headache, nausea, weakness, lower back pain (could be kidneys, could be stiffness, could be soreness from the long walk?).

1:39pm: Eating is better than not eating. I’m surprised there’s not more negative experience logs like this. Fortunately, the time to break the fast is soon!

2:12pm: Due to general misery, i haven’t really been able to journal/pray/meditate whatever. Maybe i’m just too fragile for fasting.

6:01pm: Broke the fast with ramen. Praise hosanna for ๐Ÿœ. I’m out of the woods. Headache gone. Body aches fading.


I will probably not be fasting again like this. I’m interested in intermittant fasting, but whatever mysterious health benefits may lie out there in the future for this 72 hour fast are probably not offset by the stress and loss of productivity related to feeling like garbage for 3 days.