Nico Appel

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Random Days of Fasting

Fasting once a week seems to be effective in controlling inflammatory responses, but longer fasts (Longo) are necessary for response against cancer. – “Fasting” by Taleb

I’m borrowing a small bit from item no. 3 of Nassim Taleb’s resolutions for 2015 and will experiment with fasting, one day per week on average.

A few weeks earlier Taleb had pre-seeded the idea with his little paper on Fasting.

The main idea is to imitate the periods of famines that our ancestors were exposed to.

One Day Per Week on Average

Part of the reason for this post is that “on average” suggests a random distribution of the fasting days. Basically, the idea is to fast 52 days in 2015 which is different than doing it “every Monday”.

Getting Random

I liked the approach of not having to designate one particular day of the week, every week, for fasting. So I generated a random string of 52 numbers between 1 and 365 with Wolfram Alpha (here’s the query). If I’d be a little bit better at math I could have expressed my wish like this:

RandomInteger[{1, 365}, 52]

Anyway, Wolfram Alpha translated my layman input to:

52 random integers in the closed interval from 1 to 365

and gave me this output:

{237, 281, 161, 232, 299, 330, 181, 13, 124, 228, 79, 56, 259, 98, 95, 337, 322, 241, 24, 297, 307, 49, 247, 240, 320, 243, 95, 361, 215, 347, 242, 255, 131, 172, 171, 67, 220, 15, 51, 341, 62, 87, 167, 321, 113, 169, 108, 263, 325, 208, 270, 55}

I copied this into a spreadsheet to get it sorted and quickly realized that the list included many consecutive “days”; sometimes two, but also three or more. See above, there is 240, 241, 242, and even 243.

Damn, that was not what I was looking for. I could see that I needed an additional rule which would prevent the list from having any consecutive numbers. Something like: If you have a number, that number+1 is a no-go, aka “a minimum spacing of 1”.

Consulting With a Mathematician

I quickly called the one person that came to mind that had studied mathematics and is a programmer: my dear friend Chris Kirland (who is also a fan of N. Taleb as you may have heard on our podcast.
To my surprise Chris didn’t bother “coding” anything. He suggested to “roll a dice. If it’s 1, roll again.”

But that wouldn’t work as intended. It would average out to fasting every 3.8 days (excluding the 1s, if I’m correct).
I objected and Chris nailed it:

Roll two dice. The average is 7, the minimum 2.

Bingo!

Rolling Dice on The Road

The last problem: I am traveling and have a knack for keeping my possessions to a minimum. Do I want to bring a dice with me? I could, but as the nerdy type I am, I asked Siri “Can you roll two dice?”, to which she replied:

Siri rolls two dice

Siri rolls two dice

So Siri is going to be my oracle, telling me when to fast.

First Time

I started with the routine two days ago. And this Sunday, as determined by randomness with conditions, will be the second day of fasting this year.

For clarification, I am talking about a “water fast”. So drinking water, herbal tea, and coffee without milk is fine.

One Day is How Long Again?

Taleb defines a “day” with more than 40 hours in this case.
https://twitter.com/nntaleb/status/552116394578681856

I personally started my fasting on Sunday when I went to bed and broke it on Tuesday around 10:15 am.

Longer Fasting to Upgrade Cells

Having looked a little bit into the topic, I listened to Jesse’s “Smart Drugs Smart” podcast episode “Ketosis vs. Cancer” where he had an interview with an expert on ketosis as prevention and treatment for cancer.
From what I could gather, the main recommendation from the expert is to fast for seven days once a year.

I will try that as well. Actually, I just did. Read below.

Update: In the meantime, Jesse Lawler has set up a “Water Fast Week”, following the feedback to the podcast episode mentioned above. Starting February, 16th, 2015 some people will go on the seven day water fast “together” (of course, we remote-fasting).

I just finished the 7 days of no food. It was a very interesting and not too uncomfortable experience, very close to what Jesse has written up in I’m starving.

Chris and me have also recorded and published a podcast episode where we share our experiences, called “Starving is the new black

Articles on 24-hour water fasting