Updated: May 10
Let me start off by saying that this post is by no means meant to be taken as medical advice, nor do I recommend starting a water fast unless you've done plenty of your own research, you know your body, and you've got the OK from your trusted health professional.
Little bit of my history here, this was my fourth extended fast. Previously I've done: one 48 hour, and two 72 hours, as well as plenty of intermittent fasting. I'm no expert, but I know a thing or two, and I'd like to share my experience with you!
First of all, let's briefly chat about what a water fast is and why it's so great.
Fasting is one of the most natural things for a human or animal to experience. It's not so much scary, as it is a totally natural and essential healing and strengthening tool for our body, mind and spirit. It builds discipline, cultivates curiosity, and creates energy - it literally heals you from the inside out and raises your vibrational frequency.
The body expends SO much energy on digesting food on a day-to-day basis, a fast is like giving the body a break, shuttin' down shop for repair and maintenance.
It's not asking much, just give up food for a little while, and consume only WATER (and a lot of it) and HERBAL TEA (some folks also do black coffee).
You basically want to avoid taking in any calories.
You might choose to bend the rules a bit, it just depends on how purest you wanna go. I've heard of some people adding in dried spices like parsley and other herbs to their warm salted water. Or continuing to take their vitamin supplements. I've also heard of adding in activated charcoal which can be a benefit if you're experiencing nausea or headaches (typical detoxification symptoms, and a good sign your body is detoxing!)
So here's what my daily consumptions looked like:
A couple times a day, I used a sprinkle of Himalayan salt (you could also use good quality sea salt) in a cup of warm water and drank that down, this helps replenish electrolytes and minerals in the body.
I also drank about 2oz of distilled aloe vera water every day, which has a multitude of health benefits, especially for the digestive system.
The rest of the time I drank loads of good quality water (out of a copper water bottle, also amazing health benefits) and plenty of organic herbal teas such as, green, chai, and red raspberry leaf.
Let's have a look at what goes on in the body once you stop taking in food:
During the first 8 hours or so, your blood sugar levels will experience a dip and you might notice some hunger, headaches, or lower energy. By 12 hours though, these feelings should start to subside as your blood glucose levels begin to stabilize.
Past the 12 hour mark, your body will likely enter into a state of ketosis, and instead of using carbohydrates for energy, it will begin to burn up your stored fat. If weight-loss is your goal, this is a good thing!
By the time you're 18 hours in, your body will be in a full on state of ketosis and your liver will be converting stored fat into ketone bodies (these power your muscles, heart and brain) and you may experience elevated mental clarity.
You made it to 24 hours! Woop woop! Things start to get really interesting now. Your body is entering into repair mode and your cells get to work seeking out all your old shitty damaged cells, any that aren't functioning properly; they recycle the ones they can salvage, and destroy the ones they can't, then replace them with bright shiny new cells! This is known as "autophagy," and if you're into anti-aging and vitality benefits, then autophagy is where it's at.
You've officially entered into an extended fast as you carry into Day 2 and towards the 48 hour mark. It's during this time that your human growth hormones starts to really amp up (by like 400% according to a study I read about) making it a great time for a good workout. Not only does HGH increase muscle mass and stimulates faster repair and recovery, but it's also known to increase the speed of healing in the body.
There is so much benefit in sticking it out to the 72 hour mark! This is when the body is triggered into creating brand new stem cells! Whaa! For real yo. These stem cells create brand new immune cells and this leads to a total rejuvenation and regeneration of the immune system. Making this such an incredibly powerful tool to have in the tool box, especially if you find yourself in ill health.
Okay, now on to some important things to remember.
How you start and break a fast is VERY important. It makes such a big difference to start prepping for your fast at least 3-7 days before you begin (depending on the length of your fast)
In the time leading up to your fast...
- Reduce your meal sizes (this can help reduce hunger pains)
- Eat a nice clean keto diet (this can really help with cravings once you start)
- Avoid processed foods and all your trigger foods fo sho
I feel it's so important to break your fast slowly once you begin. I know how tempting it is just to gorge yourself on a big Friday night pizza (been there done that) but don't do it! Try taking it in stages, and reintroduce food slowly and gently.
Don't think you're just done the fast once you break it. You're just entering into another stage, where you have an opportunity to revitalize your body with vitamins and minerals, and reignite your digestive fire.
Here's how I broke my 100 hour fast:
- At 7:30am I started by drinking my MetaPRW Advantage (an incredible collagen powder) in a cup of room temperature water
- Then by 8:30am I got myself a nice hot cup of my homemade bone broth (definitely only use high quality, grass fed, if doing store bought)
- Then I waited until around lunch time before reintroducing some probiotics (organic sauerkraut is my fav, homemade kombucha or a gut shot also good)
- At this point I also took all my normal vitamin supplements (my vitamins and minerals, fish oils, and antioxidants, my double encapsulated probiotic, phytoestrogen, bone nutrient complex, a zendocrine soft gel and a TerraZyme for all the yummy digestive enzymes.
Time to replenish baby!
I chose to continue with two more cups of hot bone broth, before having my first real meal around dinner time. I'd originally planned to do a fresh pressed juice, or just some simple steamed veggies like green beans, broccoli, zucchini.
What I actually did, was sauté some garlic, onions and zucchini, before adding four eggs, avocado, a sprinkle of marble AND ricotta cheese and a lil salt 'n' peppa. Hoooeee, let me tell you what, it was effing delicious. And a decent meal to follow the break (albeit a bit protein heavy), but I was super bloated and uncomfortable for a couple hours afterwards, as it was WAY too much for my shrunken stomach, and I ate the whole dang bowl. So learn from me! Take it easy my friend. Take your time and don't let your cravings get the best of you.
I will say though, once the bloating subsided (a little thanks to my peppermint and zengest) the amount of energy and mental clarity I'm experiencing right now is legit off the charts. I feel so revitalized, clear headed, creative and in-flow, it's a really wonderful feeling.
And you won't have to wait 'till the end to experience these lovely side affects.
For me, they began later in the afternoon on Day 2. That morning was a little rough, I had some nausea upon waking, a twinge of a headache (yay detoxing) but I was able to ward it all off with some salt water, peppermint/ginger tea and some Zengest oil on the belly. By the evening I felt great, I had a sauna, lots of water, and a nice early bedtime.
By Day 3 I was rip-roaring ready to go, SO much energy. After homeschooling I went out in the backyard all day, raked, churned up a garden bed, shovelled compost, and seeded it with carrots, turnips and beets, and then I went to a Yin yoga class at Cornerstone that evening, and ended the night with a sauna.
Then on Day 4, again I was out in the garden all day, repotting my marigold and geranium seedlings and planting cucumbers in my green house. Then later that night Dan and I went running laps at the field up the road, and finally one last sauna before bed.
I've always heard that fasting gets easier the more times you do it, and surprisingly, this 100 hr fast has been the easiest one so far, so I guess there's some truth to that.
What to do when things get hard?
Honestly, it's such a mind game. You've gotta get your head straight. Anytime you find yourself thinking about food or craving, or noticing hunger in your stomach, first just become aware. Notice the thoughts and feelings, and then anchor yourself in the present moment. Recall to mind the reasons and intentions you have for doing your fast.
What I like to do is simply come into my breath: inhaling 1, 2, 3, 4 - hold 1, 2, 3, 4 exhale 1, 2, 3, 4 - hold 1, 2, 3, 4. This is known as "box breath" and is a wonderful tool for cultivating awareness, presence and taking your mind off your fast.
Take this time to rest and take care of yourself.
I've found that it's pretty important to have some down time during your fast. You'll want to be productive and keep busy, but if you can avoid stressful situations, that's really a bonus.
I also love to include daily self-care rituals such as abyanga (self oil massage), dry brushing, face masks (not the cheap ones, only purest for yo face), meditating (you can listen to my guided meditations for free here on InsightTimer), yoga, sauna, exercising, hot baths and cold showers.
I think it's also important to mention that if you do begin to feel really ill on a fast, like beyond the normal detoxing symptoms (such as headache, mild nausea, aches), I would recommend stopping and re-assessing. Once again, not medical advice, just my opinions!
It's so important that we stay in alignment with what's best for us by listening to the body and reading the messages it sends.
I hope you found this post helpful and educational, perhaps you'll consider a fast to invite more healing, growth and vitality into your life. Thanks for reading.