Thursday, September 17, 2009

Lab Rat part 1

So I am officially a lab rat. My department at school is doing a study on the Daniel Fast, and yours truly is a subject for it. The Daniel fast is a very popular religious fast, and is based on Daniel from the Bible. When Daniel and his crew were in prison, they refused to eat the "kings food" that the other prisoners were given. Daniel and co. ate only whole grains, fruits and veggies. Many churches and groups use this fast. You can eat unlimited calories, but NO added sweeteners ( natural or otherwise...even honey) NO alcohol, NO animal products ( completely vegan), No chemicals ( organic, and preservative free products only) and NO....wait for it....caffeine ( Yikes!)
The research question is how participating in this fast ( which is 21 days long by the way) will affect certain biomarkers, and other health considerations.
First of all, when my professor asked if I would participate in the study, I eagerly agreed. I thought, it would be easy for actually, because I eat really clean anyway, no problem eliminating a little sugar and animal product. Boy was I wrong. I always knew, in my head that tons of stuff had sugar in it, however until you grocery shop for 3 weeks worth of sugar-less food, you have NO IDEA!!! I feel like sugar is this little ninja that changes its name and appearance and sneaks into everything I eat!!!!
I started the fast last Friday, and that morning, I had to report to the lab in a completely 12 hour fasted state for my intake tests. I took a pregnancy test ( nerve wracking!), to make sure I could participate, and when 1 little line popped up, I was clear to fast! In the lab I had to answer a few general questions about my health, sleep habits, exercise habits, and energy levels. Then the lab techs ( aka, my fellow students) took my resting heart rate, blood pressure, height, weight, body fat percentage using skinfold calipers ( ouch!) and circumference measurements. All of that was done twice to ensure it was correct. Nothing like having your fat pinched by a guy who sits next to you in stats!
Next I got a DEXA scan. For those of you who don't know, a dexa scan can tell body composition, but is mostly used for bone density measurements. You lie on a table and get basically a full body xray! Very cool. Then you have all this awesome info that prints out, like the exact density of each major bone, where you fall in your age, race, and gender categories, and yet another measure of body fat. Here I am:

Don't I look pretty? :)
After the Dexa, I rested for 10 minutes on a table, while my professor drew blood from me to check my lipid panel, complete blood count, antioxidant levels, oxidative stress levels, and insulin sensitivity.
SO basically I was prodded inside and out, and every last inch of me was examined! I am very interested to see how all of that changes in 2 more weeks when I go back for my exit tests.
The thing that was the hardest so far, was caffeine withdrawal. I expected to have a headache, which I did and luckily that was gone by Saturday afternoon. The thing I did not expect was the severe joint and muscle pain!!! My legs and back hurt SO bad that I actually cried. Agh! Luckily that pretty much ended Monday, and now I feel pretty good! My energy levels are up and if I am being perfectly honest, its not THAT hard to follow the fast. I DO miss my Kashi cereal and sweet vanilla soymilk, and I think that will be the first thing I eat when this is all over!!!!
Have you ever been a lab rat? Or sacrificed in the name of science before? Ever done a fast?


  1. I did a one day fast that lasted 4 hours. oink oink.

  2. I meant a one week fast that lasted 4 hours. Don't drink and blog.