by Carlos Ferreira as told to Allison Goldstein
“I’m doing this for longevity and for my kids and for my family.”
My name is Carlos Ferreira, and I’m 39 years old. I live just outside Philadelphia in Newtown, PA.
My fasting journey began with my blood sugar. A few years ago at an annual checkup, I got the news that my blood sugar levels were prediabetic. This wasn’t a huge shock; my grandfather was diabetic, and I knew I had gained weight after my wife and I had our second kid. The doctor told me my options were medication or a lifestyle change. I’m not big on taking medicine if I don’t absolutely have to, so I chose the latter.
The first change I made was to switch to a low-carb diet. I dropped 30 lbs (from 230 lbs to 200 lbs), but I was still having trouble managing my blood sugar. Every morning, I had to prick myself to check my levels, and even low-carb meals would sometimes cause a spike, so I started to look at what else could help. That’s when I found fasting.
Regulating Blood Sugar Through Fasting
At first, I was trying to stop eating after a certain time before bed, so those fasts were maybe 13 hours. Gradually, I worked up to 16 hours. Now, I’m doing 20-hour fasts regularly, and I do a 36-hour fast once a week to “detox” from a longer eating window on Sunday.
Fasting, along with a low-carb diet, has regulated my blood sugar levels almost completely. In fact, things have stabilized to the point where if I have some carbs or eat outside of a fasting window, it doesn’t have the impact that it once did.
I also dropped another 50 lbs. When I went back for my annual checkup, my doctor was amazed. He said he wished he could get all his prediabetic and diabetic patients to do what I’m doing.
Powerful Motivation, Added Benefits
People say they don’t know how I do it. It’s simple: I don’t want to be on medication and I have four kids I need to be there for.
I also think once you experience the benefits—health-related and otherwise—it’s even more motivating. When I started fasting, a lot of the cravings that had made the low-carb diet difficult became manageable. You learn that any craving will go away in 20 minutes. And eventually, when your fasts get long enough and your body has gone through the Fasting Zones—which I learned about in Zero—you’re no longer using carbohydrates for fuel, so you stop craving them.
Fasting with Zero has also had a tremendous impact on my energy levels. I didn’t always exercise regularly in the past, so the fact that I have four kids and a full-time job and I exercise regularly says a lot. I have energy in my late 30s that I didn’t have in my 20s. Heck, I don’t think I was in this good of shape when I was playing soccer in high school!
Here’s how I exercise: I’m not a fitness nut, but I do exercise almost every day. I get on the elliptical, go for a walk, or play tennis. I also golf, so I try to schedule a round on Monday afternoons because that’s four or five hours of my day when I’m not thinking about food at all.
Here’s my favorite Fast Breaker: Because I break my fast with breakfast, I usually make an omelet with cheese, spinach, and mushrooms. Then I’ll add avocado and a little sriracha on top. I also make some sort of protein, but that’s more varied. I might make chicken, I might make bacon. I love spicy food, so I’ll throw a little chorizo in the mix every now and then, too.
These three changes contributed the most to my fasting success:
Change 1: Building awareness. I started meditating over the pandemic, which has helped me identify how I feel. Using Zero has helped me recognize, “You’re in this stage right now, but that feeling is not going to persist; it’s going to go away.”
Change 2: Getting my family on board. Even though my wife and kids eat three meals a day, they’re still super supportive of what I’m doing. I make dinner for the family and sit down to share time with them, even if I’m not eating. My kids say, “Dad doesn’t eat dinner because of his blood sugar.” They get that I’m doing this for my health, and, ultimately, for them.
Change 3: Bringing friends along. I have a bunch of golf buddies, and I’ve gotten a few of them hooked on fasting. We all use Zero, and they’re always sending me screenshots and saying, “Check out how long I fasted for today!” It makes it fun.
People’s initial reaction when I talk about fasting is always, “I don’t know if I can go 18 or 20 hours without eating.” My response is: Try it once. One, you’ll prove to yourself that you can do it—and trust me you can do it; you’ve probably done it by accident before. And two, once you know you can do it, try it for a week and see how much better you feel. You might just get hooked.