Fasting is a term to describe a period of deliberately restricting food intake. Fasting increasing longevity and is also an avid fat burner. It has shown enhancement in mood and in some studies to a euphoric state. Right now 14% of the US population integrates “intermittent fasting”(9) while it’s a bit higher in Germany at 15-20% (10). Perhaps you can join this growing group of innovators?
If you are looking to open your mind, re-visit happy memories and enjoy the moment you’ve come to right place. Fasting creates a strong physiological stimulus that induces pronounced positive feelings. (1,2, 11). With that let’s get you started on a simple yet effective plan to reel in the positive mindset. This post dives into the scientific literature while creating a 4-step protocol simultaneously.
The 4-step Euphoric Fasting Protocol:
Step 1- Get Depleted (i.e., Don’t eat for 12-24 hours): Depletion is the essential first step of euphoric fasting as it is a precursor to neuroendocrine activation (NA) or “opening of the mind.” The main factors that initiate “NA ” are decreased brain glucose availability, leptin and insulin depletion, and perceived hunger. (3,4). Depending on how big your most recent meal was will determine how long the depletion period will be.
For example, if you eat dinner followed by sleeping through the night may be “depleted” by brunch time. For others, pushing on til lunch or later may be required if you “ate up” last night. Working out also speeds up the depletion process. Depending on intensity, you could deplete glycogen stores in 1-2hrs.(13) This is why I skimboard during my fasts. I also go on long walks with feel good music. It’s a nice way to deplete resources as I enter into a euphoric fasted state.
Step 2- Prepare for mind activation: With depletion comes the “NA” of endorphins(5), noradrenaline(1), adrenaline (1) creating a euphoric like effect. Most people can relate to “adrenaline” as it’s the feeling you get in response to an exciting quick turn of events. Endorphins are”endogenous opioids” which are psychoactive chemicals released from the pituatary gland, creating a feeling of well-being. We can all relate to this as it’s that good feeling you get after a workout.
Consider having a coffee or green tea, as you become more sensitive to them during a fast. This is primarily due to the blood pressure lowering effect of fasting. (6) I wouldn’t abuse the caffeine as you may have some shaky hands during your fast. (14). I usually have a cup of black coffee to start the fast and then consider a second cup mid-day.
Step 3- Let fasting “grow your mind” : Luckily, fasting increases BDNF (brain derived neurotropic factors) which in turn activates the serotonergenic system which enhances learning, memory and also promotes neurogenesis (7,8). (this is the process by which your brain gives birth to new neurons). This is why so many people come up with great ideas during fasts.
Step 4- End the fast: Fasting is awesome however it needs to come to an end at some point. Men can typically fast a little longer so consider a 15-24 fast. Women are a little bit more sensitive so perhaps a 12-18hr fast. Usually once your euphoria peaks it’s a good sign to end the fast. After all, long term fasting will result in a decline of many of these feel great hormones. (12)
My Euphoric Fast:
I woke up on a Sunday and proceeded for a long walk on the beach with a black coffee. My last meal the night before was around midnight with some friends. Around noon I had some green tea followed by some skimboarding along the coast. The focus and positive vibes started to settle in. After a few runs I was beginning to really feel the endorphin & adrenaline kick. From here, I pushed on to do some research poolside for a few hours.
Around 5 30pm the “euphoric fast” had settled in. This is where the idea of “co-existence***” came to me. This fast “balanced out my system” to all the great meals I had during the week.
I decided to break the fast with a normal meal consisting of various vegetables, cottage cheese, turkey and a mixed bean & olive oil salad. Interestingly, this awesome mood followed me after breaking the fast all the way until bed time. (The euphoria didn’t just end with dinner).
Since I was feeling so good I decided to meet up with some friends for a night out. There was a great sense of clarity throughout the night, as I felt sharp and smart with my words. Further, everything seemed funnier than normal as many conversations lead to bouts of hedonic laughter.
This made me realize that fasting goes way beyond the fat loss, health benefits and longevity. It’s a great tool to help you enjoy your life.
Fasting is euphoric.
1. Palmblad J, Levi L, Burger A, et al.: Effects of total energywithdrawal (fasting) on the levels of growth hormone, thyrotropin, cortisol, adrenaline, noradrenaline, T4, T3 and rT3 in healthy males. Acta Med Scand 1977, 201:15–22.
2. Michalsen A, Kuhlmann MK, Lüdtke R, et al.: Prolonged fasting in patients with chronic pain syndromes leads to late mood-enhancement not related to weight loss and fasting-induced leptin depletion. Nutr Neurosci 2006, 9:195 *
3. Bergendahl M, Evans WS, Pastor C, et al.: Short-term fasting suppresses leptin and (conversely) activates disorderly growthhormone secretion in midluteal phase women: a clinical research center study. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 1999, 84:883–894.
4. Ahima RS, Prabakaran D, Mantzoros C, et al.: Role of leptin in the neuroendocrine response to fasting. Nature 1996, 382:250–252
5. Komaki G, Tamai H, Sumioki H, et al.: Plasma beta-endorphin during fasting in man. Horm Res 1990, 33:239–243.
6. Maoz E, Shamiss A, Peleg E, et al.: The role of atrial natriureticpeptide in natriuresis of fasting. J Hypertens 1992, 10:1041–1044.
7.Rumajogee P, Madeira A, Vergé D, et al.: Up-regulation of the neuronal serotoninergic phenotype in vitro: BDNF and cAMP share Trk B-dependent mechanisms. J Neurochem 2002, 83:1525
8. Buhot, Marie-Christine, Stéphanie Martin, and Louis Segu. “Role of serotonin in memory impairment.” Annals of medicine 32.3 (2000): 210-221.
9. Johnstone AM: Fasting: the ultimate diet? Obes Rev 2007, 8:211–222.
10. Stange R, Amhof R, Moebus S: Complementary and alternative medicine: attitudes and patterns of use by German physicians in a national survey. J Altern Complement Med 2008, 14:1255–1261.
11.Michalsen A, Weidenhammer W, Melchart D, et al. Short-term therapeutic fasting in the treatment of chronic pain and fatigue syndromes: well-being and side effects with and without mineralsupplements [in German]. Forsch Komplementarmed Klass Naturheilkd 2002, 9:221-227*
12. 36. Göhler L, Hahnemann T, Michael N, et al.: Reduction of plasma catecholamines in humans during clinically controlled severe underfeeding. Prev Med 2000, 30:95-102**
13. Saltin, B., and J. Karlsson. “Muscle glycogen utilization during work of different intensities.” Muscle metabolism during exercise. Springer US, 1971. 289-299.
14. Wharrad, H. J., et al. “The influence of fasting and of caffeine intake on finger tremor.” European journal of clinical pharmacology 29.1 (1985): 37-43.
*Fasting is used for chronic pain treatment. There was also a documented rise in mood in for these patients.
**The study speaks specifically of catecholomines. Three major catecholomines are adrenaline, noradrenaline and dopamine which play an integral role in feeling good.
***Co-existence (5 intriguing questions)