The inevitable question after 12-24 hours of traveling when you finally show your face to your friends: “How’s the jet lag?”
The truth is that I haven’t suffered from jet lag ever since I discovered the fasting trick, and even though I get asked to explain it all the time, I haven’t really been able to find anyone else whose done it. Which makes no sense! Why would you want to spend so much time, effort and money to fly yourself around the planet only to sacrifice a grueling, miserable week (usually more) struggling to adjust? Wouldn’t you rather be ready to go that first morning and enjoy every blissful second of your adventure?
I’d love for the world to realize that time is precious, and to take advantage of it. Plus, this isn’t some miracle drug for sale – fasting is free. So I’m putting this info out here in hopes that more people can try this, spread the word and have happier travels.
Does it really work? I’m sure anyone reading this will ask this. All I can say is that I’ve done this for trips to Europe as well as to Asia, and I live in California, if that helps (e.g. 9- to 16-hour time zone change). Each time I’ve had minimal, if any, effects of jet lag for all trips. Round trip.
So, all I ask is that if this sounds good to you, try it. And tell me how it turned out!
The 16-Hour Fast
It’s been known for decades that living beings will naturally adjust their circadian rhythms so that they are awake when food is available. Here’s the study that demonstrates this principle in mice, with big words. It’s probably way more info than most of us need to know, but there ya go.
A 16-hour fast is short enough to get your body’s attention. So stop eating, then reset your clock by breakfasting at your destination time.
In 4 steps:
1. Decide what time you’d like to have breakfast in your destination time zone.
2. Count back 16 hours from that, and calculate what time that is in your departure/current time zone.
3. Eat your last local meal at that time, the day before your flight.
4. Fast until 8 AM destination time, at which time you eat again.
Boom. Done! Does that sound hard?
Set a 16-hour timer on your smartphone to tell you when your fast is up. This way you don’t have to worry about checking your watch and/or forgetting to set it to the new time zone.
You can grab a short nap on the flight if your last meal doesn’t already fall before your last full night of sleep. I’ve found that sleeping for a portion of the fast made the trip a lot more pleasant for myself (and my husband) than being awake and hangry. But we’ve both noticed that the more we napped, the less effective this was.
Drink LOTS of water. It’s great for staving off hunger pangs. Plus, it’s hydrating and that’s the #1 thing you need an airplane, anyway.
Most people don’t want to skip out on the in-flight meal. A couple of times I’ve just accepted the food and had it sit in front of me until my 16-hour timer went off. But flight attendants will want to clear that away, plus it takes willpower to have that piping hot little package sit in front of you screaming, “Eat me!” So it’s just easier to decline the in-flight meal altogether and pack a much more delicious meal in your carry-on bag to eat when you’re ready. Hey, might as well make it worth the wait.
If you go the above route, hit the bathrooms as soon as the meal is served. Everyone’s busy chowing down so there’s never a line. Plus, you’ll probably need to reset anyway from all that water you’re drinking. (Hint, hint)
It’s probably fair that I indicate a few more details about how I felt. After all, fasting isn’t a magic bullet but it’s the simplest, most effective thing I’ve ever tried. And it doesn’t cost anything, so what’s there to lose?
- I do get very tired on the actual travel day. Even if I napped, it’s tough to stay awake until 9 or 10 PM the day you land, which is just something I try to do in general. Giving in and going to bed early is a surefire way to ruin all your hard work! So it’s really important to stay moving until bedtime.
- For the first couple of days I’d fall asleep easily at the normal local time, but I’d sleep more lightly than usual or wake up a smidge earlier than usual, like 6 AM instead of 8 AM. There are existing theories saying that we instinctively sleep lightly in new locations anyway, so who knows?
- I also experienced a touch of minor indigestion for a day or two. But definitely not enough to prevent me from diving headfirst into the local cuisine! Potential possibilities: residual effects of the time change, travel stress, or the change in diet that comes with being in exotic foreign locations.
So, that’s all from me. I hope you find this info helpful (or at least amusing) and that no matter what tricks you choose, you’ll find a way to squeeze more fun into your next journey.