Rebel Scientist Episode 11: Eugene Butcher joins us on Day 7 of a Dry Fast
Eugene Butcher is co founder of AcroYogaDance joined Sarah and Russ to not only share his amazing self, his martial arts and yoga training, but he opened up about his dry fast.
Eugene has taught thousands of people in UK and performed around the world, including an audience of 70K on stage at Wembley stadium. He's co-founder of the UK's first dedicated acroyoga studio. AcroYogaDance is a plant based company committed to the yogic principle of ahimsa and peacefulness of non-violence to all living beings. Eugene's passion is helping people reconnect to their childhood dream, sense or feeling that they would one day do something amazing and beautiful.
Sarah: Yes, today we have my very good friend Eugene ‘Vegan’ Butcher. He is an Acro Yoga teacher and we’re going to talk to him, on Day 7 of a dry fast. That’s pretty hardcore. I think a lot of people be interested to see how that goes.
What is a dry fast?
Eugene: I don’t know about expert, but a dry fast Russ, as I only learned myself four weeks ago, is a fast with no water, no liquid of any kind and no food.
Russ: Wow, that’s a commitment. Are you feeling okay?
Eugene: I feel incredible. But I just want to say that when I first heard about this four or maybe five weeks ago now, I thought it was madness. And I had no intention whatsoever of doing it. I just didn’t understand it at all.
Russ: Is it dangerous?
Eugene: No, it’s not, especially if you follow the guidelines. And I followed a really well researched and tested protocol. It was called the Phoenix protocol. And it’s not actually dangerous. In fact, it’s one of the best healing.... No, let me change that. It’s the best healing modality, I’ve ever come across or ever discovered.
Russ: Wow. Sarah, have you done this before?
Sarah: No, I haven’t. I have done a juice fast. And I hated every minute of it. And I don’t know if that’s just a reflection of my addiction to food, possibly. And it’s something that I’ve resisted. Because obviously in the biohacking world, there’s a lot of information about fasting. And there are some fasts which are less intense, like intermittent fasting, where you can just stop eating at a certain point during the day. I do that because I don’t eat after six o’clock in the evening.
Russ: Amazingly enough I just broke a 36 hour fast with a cup of coffee.
Russ: Well, thank you. We were around a lot of food last night and the cravings... It was enchiladas and it was a struggle. I fast a lot but for some reason last night was a struggle. How do you push through those cravings and at a certain point does your body just stop craving?
Eugene: Yeah, this is the fascinating thing for me. Because when I heard seven days, to begin with, I wasn’t even thinking seven days. I was thinking, first of all, why would anybody do a dry fast. It’s utter madness. And I’ve been really in touch with hydration and prioritized it. We’re mostly water. Our bodies are made up of water. So, for me to hear about not drinking water for more than a day, or two days, was kind of madness. But I’m kind of glad that I asked the question, “What do these people know that are doing this that I don’t know?” Did they have some reason for doing it. They’re not just doing it for the fun of it. So, I started looking into it. And the first thing that got my attention was this YouTube video. And the guy was documenting his four-day dry fast. And he had a set of scales that measure body composition. And at each stage, he said, “Look! Look at the reading of my scales.” And the reason this got my attention was his hydration, and each day into the dry fast, so he wasn’t drinking, he wasn’t eating, his body hydration was going up. And I’m like, “Wait, how can that be possible?” I started researching more seriously. And then I found a book that’s called the Phoenix protocol. And it’s written by a really interesting guy called August Dunning and August Dunning used to work for NASA, he was one of the main chemists and physicists responsible for astronauts’ health and well-being. And so, I thought, “Okay, if NASA trust this guy with astronauts, then he obviously knows what he’s talking about.” And even now, he’s no longer employed by NASA, but he’s still involved with the trips to Mars. And those astronauts have got even more health challenges with the extra radiation that they’ve got to deal with and things like that. So, this guy is used to solving and optimizing health in difficult challenging situations. So anyway, long story short, I started listening to him. His was the first book I bought in ages because I normally just watch videos and listen to audios. I thought, “Okay, there’s definitely something here that I didn’t know about.” And he describes this process called autophagy. And autophagy, is this process that begins when we stop... Well, it only really happens to my knowledge when we stop eating, and we stop drinking. And it’s the process of stripping out what are called senescent cells and senescent cells, are any cells that are not functioning properly. Sarah will kind of fill me in or correct me if I’m going wrong here. But any cells that are dysfunctional or not optimal, and the body either eliminates them or breaks them down and then uses them to rebuild with new cells, new stem cells, new immune cells, and I thought, “Okay, well, there’s far more to this dry fasting thing than I realized. Let me give it a try.” Thinking it’s going to be really, really hard. And oh my god, how do people go for three or four days? I wonder what it’s going to be like? I know. Let me just... No pressure. Let me try one day. Right? And I pulled a muscle in my knee last week, and I knew it wasn’t... It’s nothing serious. I thought, “Okay, I’m going to need to rest this for a few days. So, no exercise for me for two or three days. Okay, perfect. Now it’s a chance for me to test this dry fasting thing.” Because I don’t know if I will I have energy? Will I be able to concentrate? So, it’ll be good that I’m not moving around. So great. I can get one maybe two days. Maybe I can suffer through two days. So, I started at midnight on Wednesday, literally. I’m watching the second hand on the clock and I’m gulping my last bits of water, right? And then, obviously went to bed at night. I woke up the next morning, and the first day was fine.
I had a dry mouth. It’s the first time that I can remember that I’ve not drunk anything all day long. But that was it. I wasn’t hungry. And I wasn’t particularly thirsty. I thought, “Okay, that’s not too bad. Maybe I’ll try day two.” Day two came, no worse. Dry mouth. Wasn’t particularly hungry. In fact, I wasn’t hungry. I wasn’t hungry for the whole seven days. And I wasn’t particularly thirsty. My sister bought me a set of scales, like the scales that I saw this guy using that measure body composition. You know the ones I mean? you stand on them and it measures body composition, body fat percentage, hydration, muscle mass, bone density, BMI, and all these statistics. But the only two I was really interested in was hydration and body fat. I’m not that bothered about losing fat. That’s a nice benefit. That wasn’t why I was doing it. But because the explanations I heard was that body starts breaking down body fat and pulling or creating water.
It’s one thing to hear that theory and hear it from a guy that looks after astronauts on the way to Mars, right? But it’s another to step on a set of scales and see it for yourself.
In my case, every time I stepped on the scales, my hydration went up.
Sarah: Eugene, it’s fascinating to me, if you Google, ‘how long can you go without water?’ Google will come back to you and say, “Three days.” And then they’re saying, “Then you die.”
And then you’re sending me these pictures of the scales. So, I was thinking to myself, how on earth is the body making water? And so, I knew that you could make water in the mitochondria, and yes, the body can, once you get past a certain stage start to break down fat in the body and take off a hydrogen and add it to an oxygen and there you go. You can create quite a lot of water in the body. And in fact, the water that you create is probably a more bio-available and a purer water than you can drink.
Russ: Eugene? Are you consuming anything at all during those seven days?
Eugene: Nothing at all. I had a friend that did it before me. And she found it really quite tough and quite challenging. I think there are a number of reasons that I kind of learned from her struggle. And that’s why I expected it to be really hard. And she kind of did a prep beforehand, which was just juicing, I think for two or three days, and then she did a dry fast. So first of all, I think she started to dry fast, hungry. She was in a support group with lots of other people, which straight away kind of ups the ante a little bit you know what I mean?
I thought to myself, if I’m doing this, and it’s tough, I just want to do it by myself. And I’m going to listen to this guy, that the author of the book, the guy that worked for NASA, that NASA trust with the astronauts, there’s a brilliant video he’s done every seven days, and he just gets into a hot tub. And he’s there in his swimming trunks. And he goes, “Look, guys, it’s day two. And here’s what’s going on in the body. And I’m just chilling and taking it easy.” And that’s the main thing he’s trying to get across to you in this video is just this isn’t tough, guys. It’s easy. Just chill out and take it easy.
Russ: He just wanted to tempt himself by sitting in a tub of water.
Eugene: Well, this is a funny story, on day, three or four I was doing fine, I my mouth was dry and I could cope with that. I feel fine. I feel good. I can see my hydration that’s really reassuring. I’m not panicky. I’m not worried. I can see my fat coming down. But you know what, those cans of fizzy orange that you get. And I just suddenly got this crazy craving and I thought, “You know what I’ve done four days. That’s pretty good. Why not just go around the shop is just around the corner you could crack that can open?” And this August Dunning in the video, he says look,
just one application of this can result in 24 years’ life extension, one time, once in a life time,
I’m like okay…
Russ: What was that? can you repeat that again?
Eugene: One seven-day Dry Fast according to August Dunning can result in 24 years’ life extension, 24 years’ extra life that we wouldn’t have had otherwise. Now, Russ don’t ask me how he arrived at that. If it’s true, but I’m thinking to myself, wait, so a can of fizzy orange, and a moment of gratification or 24 years’ life extension ...
Russ: Are you craving water?
Eugene: No, no, and the craving’s not that bad. And you know what I did the next day, I didn’t crack ‘come on Eugene, day three, day four, you can you can hold out’. And then what I did the next morning, I went out and filled a basket with all my favorite drinks, and I brought them back, packed my fridge and have them all around me. And like, each time I went out for a walk I always had a bottle of water with electrolytes in it just in case, just for peace of mind. I kept these things around me and people like, “How can you not drink those drinks within reach?” But because I wasn’t thirsty. I just had a dry mouth. My body didn’t need liquid. So, it’s just a dry mouth in isolation, which I’ve never really experienced before. Because normally, if we have a dry mouth, we aren’t dehydrated. We do need to drink.
Russ: Could you have gone longer?
Eugene: Absolutely. And some people do. But I only intended to do one or two days. And the nice thing about seven days is it’s that optimal kind of time. August Dunning in the book and in the videos, he talks about this process called autophagy. And on day four and five, the body goes into what he calls aggressive autophagy where it’s breaking down cells that aren’t efficient, just at a rate that is never done before. This is the only time the body goes into this state called aggressive autophagy.
Sarah: And that’s really the major benefit, the breaking down of all those cells, and then also the production of stem cells, which enables you to renew, it’s like a total renewal of all those bits and pieces of the body needs.
Eugene: The fascinating thing is all we don’t need to do anything. We’re just stopping something. We’re stopping eating. And we’re stopping putting things in our mouth. And the body goes smart. Thank you. Now I can get to work. Just chill out and let me get to work.
Russ: Are you doing anything else during the time? Are you meditating, doing yoga?
Eugene: Not really just taking it easy. I mean, I was puttering around, I was doing a bit of DIY. Taking it easy going for a walk. I was doing some stuff on my laptop. But I think that’s important Russ. And it’s what August says, “Hey, look just take it easy, binge watch some Netflix or something, just let your body do what it’s trying to do’’.
Russ: So you don’t feel like your energy levels are dropping or anything like that?
Eugene: No. And every time I went out for a walk, I had to remind myself to slow down, remind myself to take it easy because my energy was great and more hydrated than I’ve ever been. I’m not hungry. The only symptom is a little bit of discomfort and as a dry mouth. But after a while you get used to it. So you feel, “Yeah, I felt great.”
Sarah: I think one caveat would be is that you started off from a place where you had a plant-based diet, you had a healthy active lifestyle. So probably your mitochondria were in a reasonable state when you started.
Eugene: Maybe. I’m not actually here to promote Dry Fasting.
Sarah: No, no, no, but there’s people listening to this and thinking that 24 extra years I’ll have some of that. I have my own resistance. I think, “Oh God, am I gonna have to set aside a week where I don’t do anything?” That’s a big leap for some people is not even so much the food in the water, it’s that, “Will I not have enough energy to do what I want to do?’’
Eugene: We need something like a lockdown where we’re not meant to be doing anything?
Sarah: Yeah, right. My reasons are just kind of falling away for not doing it.
We have all this conditioning, which is not from our direct experience, it is from things that we have been told, and we take onboard, which goes for a lot of things in life, not just the fasting and especially in science right now, it’s about unlearning some of those things, getting direct experience, that’s where the real science is. That’s really a rebel science move.
Russ: Did you do anything to prepare? Did you just kind of go in cold turkey?
Eugene: I just searched, “Do you have to prepare?” and a few guys say, “No, you don’t have to prepare.” I thought, well, can I just start tonight? I just googled it, it was, “No, no.” As with a lot of things, some people swear blind, “You have to prepare with juicing and different things.” Other people say, “No, if I want to do a dry fast, I just start”, I thought great. Let me just let me just do a day. So, no preparation for me.
No big build up, there was no drama. It’s just no pressure, no expectation. Let me just experience, let me just try a day.
Russ: The vision I have in my head is that cowboy walking his horse through the desert out of water, dragging, blisters on his skin. hydrated and he just dies. And I it’s crazy that you’re saying, maybe he lived for a month without any water to we have no idea!
Eugene: Exactly. But I think you make a good point about the environment and if you’re in a hot place, and you’re losing moisture through sweating or perspiration and that’s obviously a factor. I was in London in February…
Russ: What’s the first thing you did after? are you are you just pouring water down your throat or what are you doing?
Eugene: Okay, no. This is why I very nearly tripped up as well. Because if I had only done one and two days, this refeeding situation wasn’t such a big deal. But after seven days, you need to be much more careful. What August Dunning suggests is you get a teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water. And that’s the first thing and it helps with the lining of the esophagus and the stomach, which have basically done nothing for seven days. And he says just in his video, “Look, don’t try and gulp it because you’ll just bring it back up again. Just take about an hour to sip it” and I thought this stuff must be really disgusting, but you know what, it’s quite nice. Baking soda is quite nice.
Sarah: You’re one of those characters that can make the best out of anything!
Eugene: Try it get a teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water so and that gives us one of the electrolytes, which is sodium. And then he says, “Look, it’s important to get some potassium and magnesium.” And he says, “The next thing is get some sparkling mineral water.” Now do you know some Mexican water, Topo Chico, is that how you say it? So, he loves this stuff. And he said this is really nice mineral water. And he puts in it something called tangy tangerine. After that most people take bone broth. I am a plant based vegan. So, I started juicing celery juice.
Russ: What do you do as a profession?
Eugene: I teach something called Acro Yoga dance.
It’s easier with pictures. If I was there with you. I’d lie down on my back. I’d ask you to stand up. Give me your hands. I put my feet on your hips and lift you in the air. It is a lot of balance and ability to communicate and trust each other.
Russ: It’s something about the human brain as well I think Eugene I think it’s probably something that you’ve understood about your brain is that you stretch yourself, you push yourself and I think getting through a dry fast probably has something to do with the way you’ve trained your brain is like it’s not a big deal. Yeah, lifting a 200-pound human being over me and bouncing on one hand. Not a big deal. But when you started it was a huge deal. Right?
Eugene: Exactly. Yeah, absolutely, Russ.
We know when we teach this stuff when we practice, we just teach tiny little progressions. Just a little bit more, a little bit more, so much so it probably in the progression is imperceptible, we don’t even know is it happened.
Sarah: Did you have any insights? Or was there anything that came out of it like maybe more on a spiritual psychological side that you cook out of that experience? Apart from what we’ve talked about the physical and other motivation. But was there anything else that you learned about yourself in that seven days?
Eugene: There was definitely a sense of kind of peacefulness and clarity. And very much like you said, this sense that we’re capable of so much more. And I know there are people that do much longer dry fasts than seven days, and I know it could have continued. And it’s just a sense that we’re capable of so much more than what we realize.
Sarah: Well, you look totally radiant.
Eugene: Well, you know what I went to a good friend of mine and she said, “Come in, and we’ll measure your body composition to your stats.” Okay, great. I can test my little scales. So I took my little scales with me. And they measured me like, proper medical grade equipment. And as soon as I went in, she said, “You look really good.” And I said, “Well, thank you.” She said, “No, no, no, I’m not just saying that to be polite. Your face, the whites of your eyes are completely white.” Now you mention it. I don’t spend my time looking at my eyes in the mirror. Normally, when I do, there’s little lines and bits of bloodshot. And I always said, “Why is there?” But when I looked - Oh, yeah, there’s none of that.
Russ: Eugene, thank you so much. Will you please let me know how 2080 is, since you’ll be living probably very nicely in 2080 and 2090.
Eugene: You know what you need to do, we’ll be there together, it’s just seven days.
🚨7 day Challenge🚨
Russ: We’re gonna follow up on our vegan butcher, Eugene, who didn’t talk about his yoga but we talked about his thirst fasting.
Sarah: Yeah, it was very interesting. And we both saw Eugene and saw how amazing he looked on day seven of his no food, no drink, not even a shower.
Eugene does have a very good health baseline. I mean, he is a yoga teacher. He does Acro Yoga, he does a lot of strength training. So, he was in a very good place to start with to do his fasting.
Russ: So that’s our disclaimer that this dry fasting, you’ve probably need to be in somewhat good shape. I mean, did you try it? Because I didn’t last more than a day.
Sarah: I tried it for a day. And I must admit I got very shaky. And I think the difference is I didn’t take the time off, which was something that Eugene said, really, you need the time off. I tried to do it over a weekend. I thought, right, if I can just do Saturday and Sunday, but I did get very shaky, and I didn’t continue the fast. I actually got a blood sugar monitor, because I was really shaky, and it wasn’t pretty. I found I have quite high blood sugar in the morning. That was very interesting.
Russ: Yeah. What does that mean for you? What does that mean having high blood sugar in the morning?
Sarah: Well, to be hypoglycemic means that, there is an issue with your blood sugar, maybe your hormone levels aren’t quite as they should be, maybe there’s a bit of a stress response going on there. So that was an interesting finding for me. So, I started recording my blood sugar every day doing the finger prick test. And I do have a little bit of hyperglycemia. And I think that certainly contributed to having more difficulties doing the fasting. And since then, we’ve spoken to a lot of people about Keto. So, I’ve switched to the Keto, the high fat diet, and I’m doing much better, and my blood sugar stabilized. There’s another biohacker called Siim Land that we will maybe get on who talks a lot about this autophagy and how it leads to life extension, potentially. But I also think it’s horses for courses, you have to kind of have an awareness for where you are at, at that time. How much time have you got to do it? You know it for women, that what stage of your cycle, are you? There’s a lot of things to consider before embarking on something like a seven-day Dry Fast. So, I’m not saying I won’t do it in the future, but I think I need to get myself into a place where I feel happy to do it, where I’ve got stable blood sugar, where I have got the time and the space to take it easy over those seven days.
Russ: Yeah. And it really screams, quantify thyself for safety reasons.
Sarah: Yes, it does. Yeah, maybe even get a health coach to take you through it. I mean, I think you can tell pretty much straight away if you’re going to get on with it or not. And you know, when Eugene is talking to us, he was telling us more, for him, it wasn’t a problem. In fact, I think he quite enjoyed having the time off not having to do that kind of the chores of the shopping and the cooking and everything else. He enjoyed his time and felt very good. So, I think, you trust your body. What’s your body telling you?
Russ: Yeah, it was, I mean, it was fascinating when he shared his stats, and he showed us the numbers I mean, it’s fascinating that he his body was producing more of the liquid than when he was drinking water, which was just, I mean, so we leave with a disclaimer. Be prepared. Know your numbers before you attempt this and probably work with the health professional.
Sarah: That’s our takeaway. It’s definitely do your own research, look at it and maybe build up to it. It’s something that we’ll take on a bit later, because I can see both of us are going through this biohacking journey, and we are getting a lot better. I hope we get Eugene on again to talk about his Acro Yoga and how he does all of that, because obviously, whatever he’s doing is working.
Russ: We should get the image of us when we first started Rebel Scientist Podcast and the image of us now. You look very fit; I have dropped 20 pounds. When we talk to our friends, Troy, Abel and Deanne, they’re walking the walk, and it’s hard not to feel the way they do. I mean, their spirits are just up there. I think we’re hoping that everyone that listens, can get a little bit of that positive energy and but in this case, probably best to have a health professional. And don’t embark on any unless you really know yourself and get ready for it. Because you can’t just jump into this one.
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