Longer-term fasts are a thing. Millions of people around the world fast periodically, religiously. 21-day fasts seem to be the most common implementation in my culture, largely due to religious influence. I know people who undertake a 21-day fast each year as an organized group effort in their local (to me) Christian “mega church” of about 20,000 members (starting on the 1st Sunday in January each year). One of the people I know who does this happens to be one of the most well-rounded and capable athletic people I’ve known and been around regularly (weekly) for the past 5+ years.
So, let’s hear from a well-respected and well-published former NASA scientist in his 23rd day of a water-only fast: Ray Cronise (this is a great interview):
Ray Cronise on Cold Thermogenesis, Intermittent Fasting, Weight Loss & Healthspan:
From Ray’s Kickstarter page:
I’ve been a scientist and publishing in peer-reviewed journals in areas of biophysics, material science, neural networks, and fluid physics for over 25 years. I began my career at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center where I worked in material science/biophysics for 15 years. During that time, along with business partners Peter Diamandis and Byron Lichtenberg, I was at the epicenter for the birth of commercial space flight in co-founding Zero Gravity Corporation, the first FAA-approved commercial parabolic weightless experience.
After leaving NASA and 8 years of building a composites manufacturing facility, I hit a health crisis largely due to diet and the unending drive of work. I was fat and sick and I wanted that to change. I too had read a plethora of diet books and simply failed, but it was the contradictions that bothered me most. Since that time I have assembled a world class team of researchers from institutions like Harvard, NIH, and Vanderbilt and want to share with you some of the puzzling discrepancies we have uncovered and perhaps some new explanations for why some old ideas were always correct. Our first paper, Metabolic Winter Hypothesis came out in 2014 and two more will be out soon.
Our Broken Plate isn’t a textbook and doesn’t require multiple degrees to read. In fact, I want to substantially simplify things and change the way we talk about food.
During our evolutionary journey, we faced two primary biological challenges: cold weather stress and caloric scarcity. We’ve mastered these domains, but was it in our best interest? We believe balanced meals, proper nutrition, and exercise are key to longevity and health, but what does science and history teach us? Where did these notions come from?
On his five-year exploration of self-experimentation, a quest driven by the desire to improve his health, Ray Cronise found that popular truths he once believed unquestionable seemed to clash with reality. A former NASA Scientist with over 30 peer-reviewed publications, 9 patents and a self-described skeptic who always sought answers to difficult questions, he embarked on an in-depth scientific journey that led him to unexpected places and new understandings about weight loss, metabolism and diet.
This odyssey, which continues even now, led him to rediscover the past, where he uncovered startling evidence that the popular messaging about metabolism and Calorie has been grossly twisted over time. His disruptive insights into the present obesity epidemic challenge the status quo and raise interesting new questions about how we might reverse this tragic trend.
Ray’s journey winds through two centuries of historical research, beginning with the scientific discoveries of Antoine Lavoisier and continuing through the early 20th Century when the way we categorize food by macronutrient content became firmly established. He juxtaposes historic texts and peer-reviewed articles about nutrition and metabolism with personal experiments in a home-built metabolic lab.
During the course of his research, Ray collaborates with some of the world’s top scientists. He continually questions many currently accepted, popular, dogmatic ideas regarding diet and exercise. Ultimately, he concludes there are better explanations about what is really happening to make us fat. It’s a very different story from the one we’re most familiar with, but it’s a tale that will resonate with almost anyone who has ever tried to shed a pound.
It’s the story of Our Broken Plate.
Ray Cronise at TEDMED 2010: