“Every fool can fast, but only the wise man knows how to break a fast.”
– George Bernard Shaw, Nobel-prize winning playwright
Breaking our 22-day fast at Buchinger Wilhelmi
To achieve the sustainable lifestyle benefits of fasting, the methodology here is as much about breaking the fast, as the prolonged fasting itself. The purpose of this exercise is to reintroduce food with a very low calorie (<300 calorie) menu of easy-to-digest foods.
The breaking of the fast happened in three phases today.
- An apple compote (“mousse”) and 1-2 nuts at lunch (pictured above)
- A whole apple at 2pm delivered to our room
- A potato and vegetable soup at dinner where we were presented with celebratory candles and certificates documenting our accomplishment!
The compote and the soup were very tasty! While it may seem ironic that a fasting clinic has gourmet food, the maintenance of a healthy and sustainable diet moving forward is viewed as critical.
The expectation was set here that we would gain between 0.5 kg and 1.5 kg through our initial re-feeding because our digestive tracts are refilling, and our bodies are absorbing more water as protein structures get rebuilt, glycogen reserves get built up, salt intake goes up, and water requirements go up to support secretion of digestive juices. That said, the initial low caloric intake will still be supporting fat burning in these initial days.
Another expectation set here is that we will initially experience a lower amount of energy when we re-introduce food, as we’ve become used to our bodies not expending energy to support digestion. We are also not accustomed any longer to blood flowing to our stomachs after meals. As such, we’ve been able to exercise any time of day! The recommendation here is to rest and to ensure waiting 2.5 hours after eating to exercise during this initial period.
Through these first few days after fasting, we were told to:
- Chew food intensively
- Drink 2-3 liters of fluid per day (between, not during meals)
- Drink hot water in the morning (slow sips)
- Eat 1-3 soaked prunes in the morning on an empty stomach (part of the standard “breakfasts”)
- Eat high-fiber foods (again, part of the standard meals served here)
- Perform stomach or colon massages
- Stay away from meat, sugar, alcohol, and coffee (you can’t get those things here at the clinic, but we can still go into town!)
- And, if constipated, drink 50-100ml of sauerkraut juice mixed with warm water on an empty stomach. This is an old German remedy.
After Going Home
No surprises here, but the other part of the education here is about both intermittent fasting / time-restricted feeding, as well as the 5:2 diet. The key is to not let the metabolic benefits experienced here just fade away after returning to our normal lifestyles. I completely assumed this, which is why I called the blog “time-restricted” for the long term!