Episode 3: ‘Fasting’
January 11, 2023
As Hemsworth is an actor and has played many roles including: “Extraction,” “Spiderhead,” “Thor,” “Avengers: Endgame,” etc; he has always had to consume large amounts of food especially in his role of Thor, to maintain the right body physique. In this episode, Canadian-American Physician Peter Attia gives Hemsworth a water only diet for four consecutive days. The reason for doing four days is because the body will go through changes and reboot itself, explains Attia. Consequently, this episode focuses more on the body than the mind, even though the mind influences a major part of being hungry. As the show progresses, Attia and Hemsworth both go into much more detail as to what is happening to the body during those four days. Fasting concludes as one of the hardest tasks for Hemsworth considering all humans’ energy is produced from food. After the four days are over, Hemsworth will have to complete one more task: capture his own food.
Day one was the easiest day for Hemsworth because energy stored from the previous meal would help get him through the day. Talking and joking around came during the first 14 hours of no food and this had no effect on Hemsworth, but he would soon begin to feel the energy leaving his body as the day progressed. Friends of Hemsworth decided to fast alongside him to understand how the body feels when water is the only source. It is interesting to see that in every episode, there is always another person willing to experience what Hemsworth is undergoing and to understand that these tasks are not easy. To prepare for his final task, Hemsworth had to see how long he can hold his breath underwater as he will be diving and capturing fish. He was only able to hold his breath for 27 seconds even though Hemsworth explains that the time underwater felt much longer than what it actually was because by then, the hunger had set in and time began to slow down. At 24 hours, Hemsworth begins to feel the side effects of not eating: weakness and lightheadedness.
Waking up on day two, Hemsworth was struck with hunger immediately and he also noticed that he slept poorly and was tired throughout the day. Attia explains that the primary reserves of glucose stored in the liver and muscles are rapidly depleted which is causing Hemsworth to be tired. There are some people that will fast because they thrive off of feeling tired but it is also beneficial in the long run. The fat that is in the body turns into ketones that will keep the energy going and heightens sound and vision. Ketones are produced when the body isn’t making enough glucose and replaces it as the new energy source. At 39 hours, Attia checks the ketones in Hemsworth’s body by pricking his finger to see what level he is at and this leads into the next task, underwater hockey. The ultimate goal was to take Hemsworth’s mind off of food and hockey would help with that. What is most efficient about hockey is it gives Hemsworth the opportunity for bursts of energy and to prepare being deeper into the water for longer periods of time. The most noticeable part was how Hemsworth was able to stay under the water longer. This is because of the fact that he was distracted by the game and thinking less about the actual reason he was in the water. When going back in for the second round, Hemsworth was given the burst of energy kicked in from the ketones and this helped tremendously as he was able to stay under even longer and feel calmer. The 45-hour mark came around, and the friends that were alongside Hemsworth decided that they were too hungry and dropped out. Understanding why Hemsworth was doing this came easily for everyone, but no one else could follow through and this is where the mind takes over. The reasoning behind this is that food is the main source of energy and his friends could not stand the thought of continuing this journey without it.
On day three, Hemsworth grows weaker, feels terrible, loses sleep, hard to catch his breath, and unable to focus. Even though Hemsworth feels completely weak, he continues to do his everyday activities including working out. At this point, he has gone 64 hours without food. He gave himself hope that doing activities to increase his heart rate would make the ketones kick in, but he realizes that nothing is working. What is most interesting about these episodes is when they bring in real life events to show the different reasons why people do this. For example, a family that lives in Ethiopia travels to attend church that takes three days on foot and during this time, they will not consume any food because they believe it brings them closer to God.
Even though each person is fasting for a different reason, there is still that main thought of fasting being an essential part of life and that it is healthier for the body and mind. Attia believes that since fewer calories are being consumed, there is a better chance at living longer even as the body becomes weak. Hemsworth is now at 70 hours without food and all his energy is completely drained as he is extremely tired and the ketones are no longer kicking in.
The final day arrives and Hemsworth is at 92 hours without food. The risk of blacking out was very possible, and it was important to keep an eye on his health. His ketone level was at a two meaning, his body was not able to produce any ketones, but there was a chance that if his body could get up to three, the ketones could kick in. At this stage, his body is trying to fight off “zombie cells” and replace them with new, healthy cells. Zombie cells are cells that die from damage or too much stress but they refuse to leave the body. For the final task, Hemsworth gets into the water in the search for food. As he enters the water the first time, Hemsworth explains how he felt unfocused and unable to breath. Viewers can see the determination in Hemsworth as he goes back under for a second time. In every episode so far, something to notice is how he is able to overcome the fear in his head and always accomplish the task the second time. Therefore, Hemsworth adds the different tasks into his everyday life and illustrates that this will be even more beneficial for his health.