Dev Rangarajan
    Re-gain control of your decisions

    In the past year, I’ve done a couple different fasts, and different kinds of fasts. I had the (probably very common) realization that when you’re able to complete a fast of some duration the thing you were abstaining from loses its power over your life.

    Let me give some examples. Please consult a doctor before doing a fast, and make sure you have a safe way to quit. Having a plan is definitely the key to success with fasting.

    Last fall, I did a 100 hour water fast. I’d been following Dr. Peter Attia for some time at that point, and also had been practicing a rough 16/8 intermittent fast. Still, it was one of the toughest things I’ve done. The sheer amount of mental toughness required to get from hours 30-50 was more than I thought I had. It became relatively smooth sailing after that, when my body went into full ketosis and then hopefully some autophagy. An interesting thing is that you don’t really get hungrier the longer you fast, you realize that hunger becomes a constant signal and then it’s easy to tune out.

    Towards the end of the fast I could barely stomach the daily himalayan salt (to maintain electrolytes) and the sparkling water (a hunger suppressor). I started to fall off a bit and get some headaches (not drinking enough water, constantly thinking about food, etc.) but ultimately I made it to 100 hours. I had a glass of milk and some plasticky american cheese that reminded me of being 5 years old. Best meal of my life.

    So what did I learn? Immediately I realized how little I appreciated having constant access to food, and the privilege that fasting was something I chose to do instead of a requirement. Beyond that, it showed me that I had a level of discipline that I wasn’t accessing very regularly. Most importantly, it showed me that most of the time when I ‘feel’ hungry it’s not an important signal. Since then, I’ve done several major diet adjustments and trials (cutting added sugar, increased caloric deficits, 18/6 fasting, etc.) These have all been astronomically easier than the water fast, and I’ve had only minor hiccups in adherence.

    Water Fasting showed me that I have complete control of when and what I eat.

    A couple weeks into quarantine, just after graduating college, I did a 24h dopamine fast.

    This is a very silicon valley kind of trendy thing, but the more I read about it the more I thought it’d be interesting to try. My rules for this fast were: No consumption of anything other than water, no phone, no books, no internet, etc. Just me, pen and paper, and basically silence.

    The first couple hours after I woke up were great, I planned out some business things I’d been putting off, and was just in a great headspace the whole time. I remember thinking if I could just do a little work I’d be so incredibly productive. After those first couple hours, my brain kind of ran out of things to think/worry about, so I went on a couple walks and just sat around doing literally nothing. If you’ve been thinking about trying one of these, I’d recommend starting with just 6 hours (ideally in the morning). I don’t think I got too much more out of the rest of the fast to be honest, and I actually decided to break the consumption rule and eat a light dinner.

    The interesting thing happened after the fast, which was largely uneventful. The next day I had incredible productivity (like literally 10x), and it inspired me to change a lot of my work and consumption habits. I started getting up at 6 am every day, and I’ve adhered to that for 2 months now (with minor tweaks and making weekends an exception after 3 weeks.) That’s a level of adherence I could never attain before. I used to be totally unable to get out of bed.

    I’ve also totally changed my relationship to social media, first deleting some apps and now implementing heavy screen-time restrictions to stop mindless consumption. Once again, fasting showed me that I have higher levels of control than I thought I did.

    I wanted to write this because maybe you’re like me. Maybe instead of committing to some diet for a year and then falling off after a couple weeks (guilty), you should just commit to something very intense for a short duration. Whatever happens after that is up to you.

    © 2021, Dev Rangarajan | Rights reserved
    Some images from