So why did I decide to do a water fast?
A number of reasons.
- My health has been suffering appallingly over the last few years with no viable treatment from doctors
- I needed to lose a significant amount of weight (40lbs ideally)
- Mental aspects, having the strength to control myself around food which has traditionally controlled me
- Finances – can I live on just a few £££ a week as the government recommends
- Spiritually – every faith in every culture has some form of fasting in order to attain some level of spirituality and I want to see what if anything I experience by doing this.
- A few good reasons, but still not something that I went into lightly. WATER FASTING CAN KILL YOU!
Let me just be completely and utterly transparent about this. I have done a ton of research before deciding on the plan that I wanted to follow and I absolutely recommend that you do the same. DO NOT read this blog and think ‘Oh I can do that’ and start a fast without:
Having a discussion with your medical practitioner
Having your bloodwork done
Needless to say, if you have ANY health conditions you are taking medication for, or if you are pregnant. Additionally, Water Fasting is only effective for those who are not suffering from any form of wasting disorder. This includes anorexia, AIDS etc, water fasting relies on fat stores to be effective. If you come under any of these categories then this is most definitely not for you. Don’t even think about it!
Ok, so assuming you are fairly healthy, nor on medication and have fat to lose, are looking to gain control over your eating habits or even try and see what kind of spiritual experience you may have… then yes I would definitely recommend this.
How long can you Water Fast
The longest fast on record is 382 days! The research paper is here. But this was conducted under medical supervision, and he was in an infirmary. being watched 24/7. Chances are you won’t be, however, it’s important to note that done right, a water fast can be sustained for as long as your body needs it.
How do you Water Fast?
There are many different approaches, and if you look online at all the advice available it is all massively conflicting! Some say you should only drink 2 litres of water a day, some say 4 litres. Some recommend that you only drink filtered water, others say tap is fine. Ultimately I looked at the results and the research from doctors in this field. One of the research doctors who has done a bunch of work around fasting is Dr Jason Fung. He now makes his money helping people through their own fasting programmes and has written a book about it.
Whilst I don’t have $$$ to pay Dr Fung to coach me, I did read his research, listened to his many interviews and the advice of other doctors in this field. Even our very own Dr Mosley with his Fast Diet, recommends a form of fasting. So there are many places to go and do your research and decide what’s right for you.
Just Water? No Food?
When I posted on my Facebook that I was doing this water fast, one of the first questions I got was ‘ What NO FOOD?’ There is a real fear around not eating and there’s also a lot of misinformation about food too. However, on the water fast I am doing, I am allowed:
- Black coffee
- Mineral Water
- Bone Broths
Yes bone broth is technically soup, but it’s just the liquid from the stew and the reason why bone broth is good for a fast is because it gives you the much needed salt your body needs. So I would highly recommend that you include bone broths in your fast. Just ensure they are either home made or that if you must buy them that they are organic and natural without any nasties especially sugar as that’ll screw your fast up.
Supplements, Mineral Deficiencies
I am also taking a basic multi-vitamin and mineral supplement to ensure I have the essentials whilst I’m fasting. There is no harm giving your body the vitamins and minerals it needs to function and again this is recommended by doctors. Don’t skip this, it can actually help you.
Will I lose muscle?
There’s no doubt about it, water fasting is going to make you feel tired. You are unlikely to have the energy levels you have when youre off your face on sugar. But I have noticed there is debate again about how much exercise you should do. Some doctors say you should rest as much as possible so your body completely focuses on healing. Others say keep a certain level of activity so you keep your muscles. Some even say that you don’t lose muscle at all during water fasting.
Personally, I decided that I would see how I felt each day. And whilst I would normally like to weight train 5 times a week, I would actually just start my week with some yoga. Still some level of activity but not so stressful that I’m going to pass out.
What happens when you Water Fast?
Ok, so lets break it down. What actually happens when you water fast, whats your body doing and what symptoms should you expect?
Day 1-2 Stage 1
This stage lasts between 12 & 48 hours. When you eat normally, your body burns the glucose from your food in order to function and give you the energy you need. When you fast, your body needs to produce sugar for energy and in order to do this it starts a process known as Gluconeogenesis.
This process means your liver is converting fat into glucose aka energy… so your body begins to use it’s fat stores for fuel.
This is like your power saving mode, as your Basal Metabolic Rate slows down and your heart rate and blood pressure are likely to drop too. See why you need to do this under medical supervision!
Day 3-7 Stage 2
There’s some debate around when this stage starts but it’s estimated to be around the end of Day 2. You should begin to feel a little more energy during this stage. This is the real fat burning stage where ketosis begins. A good way to test whether your body is at this stage is to buy some ketone strips that you simply pee on and get an indication of the level of ketones in your pee.
During this stage your body starts to clean itself up. Now your digestive system has a much needed break it can turn to helping clean up your organs. Your lympathic system might start expelling mucus now and then as the body is removing toxins at this stage, you may also get pimples. This is the stage that the white coated tongue appears and unfortunately you’re going to get some nasty bad breath! Be warned!
Day 8-15 Stage 3
There appears to be some amazing things happening at this stage. During this period the body is in optimum healing and actually begins to search for dead and damaged tissue, scar tissues etc to heal them. At this stage whilst your body is fixing you up, old injuries can feel like they have returned as your body actively goes to the damaged areas. Lymphocytes enter older damaged tissue and dissolve damaged cells, these cells irritate the nerves causing the old aches and pains. But if you can stick it out it will be worth it.
People do often report that overall they feel better once they reach this stage.
Day 16 to 30 Stage 4
Most people don’t get here. And this most definitely shouldnt be done without medical supervision.
However, this is a truly miraculous stage. Its reported that damaged organs may regain lost function, tumours are metabolized as food for the body! The lympathic system is clear, detoxification is near completion. Also the pink tongue and fresh breath come back once the body has healed. This is reportedly the stage where people feel utter calm, and peace and the spiritual wellness kicks in.
Breaking the Fast
There is general consensus that a good time to break the fast is when the body indicates it needs to happen. How will you know this? Your medical supervisor will advise you of course! But also after a period of time, you will start to get hungry again, and this is your body’s way of telling you it’s done it’s work and it’s ready to return to normal again.
There are many resources about how to break a fast. And you absolutely must be sensible, or you will ultimately pile on all the weight you lost quicker than you put it on in the first place. DO NOT jump straight back into your western diet of burgers, fries and coke. During the fast your metabolism will have slowed down dramatically so even the lowest calorie food is going to stick to you like a limpet. Be sensible here. It is recommended that you break your fast with a small slice of watermelon, take it slowly to eat, at room temperature too. Your stomach hasnt been used to any food for however long so it will take time to reintroduce food to it. Be kind to yourself. You can also have soups and other liquids but make sure you have a plan in place so you don’t balloon as I have seen many YouTuber’s do!
So there you have it, my Water Fasting breakdown. I will keep you posted on my progress as I take my first step into this unknown journey!
Wish me luck 🙂