Fast Thinking

Ask any muslim, and they'll tell you. Fasting for 12 hours gives you energy, clear-headedness, focus. The benefits of ramadan fasting are one of the reasons they give for islam being true.

Which is a little strange, as they don't show any great willingness to fast outside of ramadan. And the point of ramadan is to give sympathy for those with nothing to eat. And the fasting is more than offset by the feasting with family at sunset. And I've spent time with muslim students during ramadan, eating and drinking in coffeeshops and resteraunts, hiding from each other, all pretending they don't know they're all breaking the rules. And everyone knows sales of stockpilable snacks go through the roof in the week leading up to the month of no snacking.

But they are right about giving your body the chance to use its supplies of creatine, glycogen, and fat. Diabetics can tell you about "paradoxical euphoria" - a result of low blood sugar. I've experienced it, though for me it's more a kind of sentimentality - a state I also enter when drunk.

Ask any soldier, and they'll tell you about training exercises where you're denied food. After 36 hours - certainly 48 - they've got no energy, no intellect, no willpower. If you want to know what clinical depression feels like, don't eat for two days.

So there's a sweet spot, between "digging into reserves" and "scraping the barrel". Between "Oh, so that's what being alive is supposed to feel like - I didn't realise I'd been feeling like shit for the last few decades" and "Somebody seems to have stolen my brain".

I reckon it's between 8 and 24 hours. But more empirical research needed. After supper.


  1. I've slept two days straight after a long week of partying. Only got up when I was thirsty and needed to void. Went back to sleep for another 12 hours. A whole weekend of sleep! But I didn't feel hungry at all. First day back to work, had a small breakfast. Then a large lunch and dinner.

    I recall the rule of three in survival:

    You can survive:

    Three hours in inclement/hazardous weather without shelter
    Three days without water
    Three weeks without food

    I'm never pushed myself so. But I can tell you how much it sucks (and stupid it is) to hike miles in the hot desert sun and not carry enough water! After four hours, I was ready to lay down and die. But I refused to let those vultures circling overhead have the satisfaction of pecking at my remains! So I forced myself back to where I had access to resources, and drank a gallon of Powerade in an hour when I made it back! Lesson learned. Be better prepared!

  2. You have a much more exciting life than me, evidently. Interesting stuff to know.

    1. Kapi, Hiking and exploring outdoors and wildlife is one of my fave things to do when I have time. Sometimes, it's just heading twenty minutes to the nearest national park to watch the baby turtles being released into the sea right at sunrise. It's free, fun, and so exciting! I get chills and feel giddy everytime I see those credit card sized baby turtles crawl on the sand to the waves. I wish them well and hope the females return in a few years to start the next generation.

      When I was younger, I used to work so I'd have money to go clubbing and get drunk with friends. Now, I focus more on adventuring. I still see friends, and from time to time we go out, but we aren't as reckless and stupid as we were when younger. Time and experience changes everything. And I've learned to listen to my gut and do the things that make me happy. Makes life much more enjoyable!