Fasting and Max Breathe Hold Time

As a follow up to yesterday’s blog on the power of the breathe…

I read an interesting article by Dr. Peter Attia explaining the discomfort we feel when holding our breath for prolonged periods of time. It’s not actually due to a lack of oxygen (O2), but from the excessive accumulation of CO2.

The discomfort felt is a warning sign that you are not properly gas exchanging.

A recent medical study that included 13 elite free divers seemed to show that fasting can increase max breathe hold time. To give a brief synopsis of the study, the average max breath hold of the participants went from 3:51 (after a meal) to 4:41 (in a fasted state, but only a very minor fast of 13 hours). This is an insignificant increase!

But why? How is this possible?

A few factors at play here.

  • There is a correlation between metabolic rate and O2 demands. Lower metabolic rate = less O2 demands, less O2 demands = less production of CO2 (which as we learned is responsible for the panic response associated with breathe holds)
  • After you eat, blood that could (otherwise) be channeled to the heart and brain (increasing O2 to those areas) are instead being channeled (at least partially) to the stomach to aid in digestive processes. Resulting in less O2 to critical areas, and corresponding panic response by the body.
  • Production of ketone bodies serve as an alternative fuel source from glucose and fatty acids and may lesson O2 demand in the body.

Amazing stuff! Right? Just when I think I’ve learned (and re-learned) all of the benefits of fasting I stumble upon something like this.

I know I tend to write too much about fasting and breathe work, I can’t resist. (Note: many of my blogs on this topic are not published on the here, but circulated internally at my company. Contact me if you would like to see the other articles written on these topic)

…But what I love about these two health tools is that they are free and available to everyone.

I find it truly remarkable that within our minds, will, and lungs (!) we have the ability to improve our health.

Don’t underestimate yourself!

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