Fasting, Metabolism, and Happiness

A few months ago, I went on a three day fast. I consumed nothing but water for three full days. Afterward, I didn't eat as much as I did before the fast, and yet, within a week, I was putting on fat on my belly. I was gaining weight while eating less.

I once heard somewhere that fasting is bad because it lowers your metabolism. After the fast you would resume your old eating habits, it was presumed, and with a lowered metabolism, you would get fat.

I've encountered thinking like this in the exercise literature too. Raise your metabolism. That's how you can become trim and fit. It is as if the "given" is that we are going to gorge ourselves at every meal (and given how many carbohydrates most people eat and how ravenous carbs make you, maybe it seems inevitable), but the solution they offer is: Exercise hard enough to try to keep ahead of your mouth. That seems ridiculous.

One of the things I most enjoyed about fasting was the great calm I felt. And after the fast was over, I felt calmer than I did before the fast. Not sluggish or dim-witted. Just calm. Less ruffled. Less fidgety. Less nervous. I liked it.

Maybe a lower metabolism (if that's what I'm feeling as "calm") is a good thing. Maybe it would be better to eat smaller meals and keep the calm than it would be to try to keep myself revved enough to keep up with my mouth.

Here's to a lowered metabolism. Couldn't this world use fewer people who are revved up all the time and more people who feel a deep calm? I think so. This compulsion to eat eat eat and then workout like mad to keep it all burned off is going about it the wrong way. It is another form of insatiable consumerism. Let's ease off. Let's relax and make this world a little calmer and a little saner and a little less frantic. Let's raise a (small) glass and toast to a low metabolism.

I've read a lot of books on fasting. I didn't think many of them were very good. But I found two I really liked, and I recommend them if you're interested in trying a fast:

Fasting: An Exceptional Human Experience
Principles of Fasting

Adam Khan is the author of Principles For Personal Growth, Slotralogy, Antivirus For Your Mind, and co-author with Klassy Evans of How to Change the Way You Look at Things (in Plain English). Follow his podcast, The Adam Bomb.

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