Q&A with DPT Matthew Burns on the Drawbacks and Benefits of Fasting

Our Physical Therapist Matthew Burns recently underwent a 60-hour fast so we sat down with him to ask some questions about his experience.


What was the impetus behind choosing to participate in a fast and why now?

From conducting a fair amount of research on the topic, I understand the positive benefits it can have for not only my physical body but also for my mental headspace. I value both aspects of my health and well-being and feel that there is a strong symbiotic relationship between the two. I see it every day in the studio with my patients.

Fasting also creates more discipline and structure in my life, which subsequently allows me more space and freedom in areas where I need it. It simplifies a lot of the day-to-day stuff and I am a big advocate of working “smarter and not harder”. During this pandemic period, it is a great tool to utilize.

What’s the difference between intermittent vs long-term fasting?

There are slight differences between different types or variations of fasting - ultimately it’s about finding the strategy that is right for you and is conducive to your current lifestyle. Intermittent fasting (IF) or time-restricted feeding usually lasts for a shorter duration (anywhere from 16 to 48 hours) and is what I try to practice on a more regular basis throughout my week.

Long-term fasting or periodic fasting (PF) is typically classified as 24+ hours, all the way up to 3 weeks, and is something I do on a much less frequent basis. This is something that you need to build up a tolerance to and something you should do your homework on before engaging in such a practice.

What’s the longest fast that you’ve done to this point?

This was the longest fast that I have currently done. I’ve done other extended fasts previously (24 and 36 hours) and always experienced positive benefits so I wanted to push myself a bit further. Maybe I’ll give 3 days a shot next time around.

What are some of the effects that you feel or experience during a fasted state?

While fasting, I generally feel more lucidity with regards to my thinking and an enhanced acuity of my senses during the fasting period.

Understanding that hunger when fasting is a state of mind, not a state of the stomach, is important to discern between my current thoughts and perceptions and the somatic experience inside of my body.

Post fast, I feel a sense of decreased systemic inflammation and “bloatedness”. Fasting is great for your immune system and studies have shown that IF can upregulate proteins that protect us from obesity, diabetes, and metabolic serum, Alzheimer’s disease, and neuropsychiatric disorders*

Will you continue to do this moving forward?

I think when used properly and with the right intention, it can have positive benefits for most people. I will continue to experiment and practice different variations of fasting in the future. I look forward to continuing to dive deeper on this topic and learning more along the way.

For more posts from our one-on-one coaches and physical therapists, keep an eye on the blog! 



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