10 Day Water Fast: My Experience + Q&A
Not too long ago I was inspired to embark on my first ever water fast, which lasted 7 days (read all about it HERE). The impacts were so profound that I couldn’t wait to do my second. In between the two I implemented a couple of 24 hour fasts, and continued to eat my normal, healthy diet. I’m not “keto” by any stretch of the imagination, in fact I don’t like to box my diet into any of these popular words. I eat real, unprocessed food that is 100% organic, made at home with love. That’s it. I do eat within a 12 hour time window, not because it’s popularly coined “intermittent fasting” but because I like to give my body a resting period from digestion prior to sleeping, to ensure my body can truly rest and repair. I eat sweet potato most days, and sometimes I feel like having a lighter (lower carb) day, but I do it all completely intuitively. I exercise almost every day and so I nourish my body accordingly. I do not count macros, I sure as hell don’t count calories- I just give my body nutrient dense food to help it thrive. The one thing I do absolutely focus on with my diet is controlling blood sugar- so despite having sweet potato almost every day, I consume higher carb (sugar) foods in conjuncture with a high quality protein source, and lots of healthy fats. I believe that controlling blood sugar is the #1 factor to ensure a thriving body.
You don’t need to be “keto” to fast, but aforementioned (and in depth during my first fasting article) there are many things you can do to prepare for a more successful fast. Go check out that article for more info (the link is at the bottom of this page).
My last fast was at the cusp of spring, but it was still fairly chilly here in Canada. I am pretty excited to have some warm sunny days lined up this time around. I’m a total sun-worshipper and can lay out like a lizard for hours basking in the sun; I’m hoping it helps give me energy throughout the fast.
I was definitely gentle with myself during my last fast, but I’m taking it to a new level this time around. Last time I exercised on Day 1 (to deplete glycogen) but I decided against it this time, to see if it improved my overall energy throughout the fast. I also opted out of getting a full body massage (which I did last time on Day 2) and a moxibustion + acupuncture session (which I did last time on Day 6). Although all these things felt great in the moment, it was intense going out in downtown Toronto. Smells were overwhelming, as was people’s energy, and the general chaos of the city. My residential neighbourhood downtown is very peaceful and in full bloom, so I will really be spending this fast at home, in the sunshine of my backyard, and perhaps taking gentle walks in my hood. My plan is to avoid anything that will induce hormesis (hormone response due to stress) which includes sauna, exercise, over exertion, etc.
The healing benefits of fasting (like autophagy) require your body to focus it’s resources (which are minimal during a water fast) on survival. The body burns up bad cells for fuel, but it cannot do so efficiently if you are simultaneously breaking down muscle or exposing your body to exogenous stressors. In retrospect, even though my body work sessions were fantastic- the act of going into downtown to get the treatments was too much for it. Having someone come to me, or performing self-massage/ body work is surely a better approach.
Day 0: Wednesday May 9
Last meal: slow-cooked pasture-raised lamb, sautéed collard greens in beef tallow, sauerkraut, and sweet potato carob gingerbread cookies (recipe HERE).
Day 1: Thursday May 10
7:30am: facial gua sha massage + coffee enema (I opted to do one coffee enema on Day 1 to kick off the fast)
Find a full guide to the benefits of gua sha and how to perform it HERE.
8:30am: 15 minute walk in the neighbourhood
9am: full body dry brush + 40 minutes in traditional Finnish sauna
noon: it’s fairly cloudy today but was able to get in about 10-15 minutes of sunshine at midday
2pm: sunshine came back out, got about 40 minutes more sunshine. Sun = LIFE!
4pm: 30 minute gentle walk outside
End of Day 1: I decided to tweak my entry into fasting this time around, and opt out of exercising on Day 1. During my last fast (7 days) I was very weak throughout, apart from day 7 when I miraculously regained my strength; and I wonder if my over exertion (an upper body lifting day at the gym) during my first day of fasting played a role in this. So I spent some time in the sauna to sweat out some toxins and benefit from heat shock proteins, and started off the fast (and a complete break from exercise).
Since my last block fast I’ve incorporated a few 24-hour fasts, so Day 1 was super easy. No hunger, felt totally normal. Onto Day 2!
Day 2: Friday May 11
Sleep report: I slept well last night, went to bed at 9pm, woke up around 5:30am and loitered in bed half asleep until about 8am.
8:30am: went for a short, slow walk in my neighbourhood (15 mins), got fresh air and sun on my face. Feeling good this morning, a lot less weak than I felt on Day 2 of my previous block fast.
9am: facial gua sha + very gentle full body dry brush
3pm: 15 min walk outside
End of Day 2: Nothing fancy to report. Today was remarkably easy, I even made delicious bliss balls for the kids that I nanny, with no temptation to break the fast. No hunger at all. My energy today is totally normal, unlike my last fast when during day 2 I was weakAF and seriously zonked. It was too chilly/ cloudy outside today to get sunshine, but it should warm and clear up in a day or two, which will be nice.
Day 3: Saturday May 12
Sleep report: I went to bed a little later than usual (10:30pm) and slept through till about 4:30am, listened to a podcast about thyroid health for about an hour, then went back to sleep until just past 8am. My body is feeling a little bit weaker today but nothing major, still no hunger, no headaches. It’s pissing rain outside… lame.
Note: I decided to tape my mouth last night to get a deeper sleep. For more information on this seemingly crazy trick, click HERE.
10am: facial gua sha
3:30pm: full body gentle dry brush
End of Day 3: Pretty uneventful day. I’m leaving for Europe in a month and I got heaps of planning done, did some school work, and some reading.. dat’s about it. Stoked that tomorrow calls for sunshine.
Day 4: Sunday May 13
Sleep report: bed at 10pm last night and woke up at 6:30am, solid sleep- feeling super rested. I taped my mouth again last night and am stoked because during my last fast I had some pretty restless nights. For more info on how to optimize your sleep click HERE.
8:30am: facial gua sha
11:30am: Sunshine is out, and I spent about 2-3 hours reading and listening to podcasts butt naked in the sunshine. It was absolutely marvellous and life giving. I did use coconut oil on my skin (during my last fast I refrained from using any products on my body at all).
End of Day 4: Today went really well, I got a LOT of writing done, my brain is back on fire mode, which also happened during my last fast. Thoughts are incredibly clear, I am very motivated and inspired. I did actually feel hungry a couple of times today which is interesting. Nothing major, just the occasional, short-lasting sensation of hunger. It isn’t savage hunger that would even remotely tempt me to break the fast, but it’s something I haven't felt at all previously.
Day 5: Monday May 14
Sleep report: went to bed at 9:30 but couldn’t fall asleep so around 10:30pm I rubbed some Ancient Mineral magnesium gel on my body, which knocked me out. I did tape my mouth too. Slept through the night until 5am, loitered in bed listening to a podcast about cancer as a metabolic syndrome with Dr. Thomas Seyfried and how water fasting is the most powerful healing tool for cancer treatment and prevention- SO fascinating (link in resources at the bottom of this article).
7am: I am feeling AH-mazing today, like on top of the world. So full of energy, I thought to myself I want to go for a run (I’m not a “runner” but every so often I get these bursts of wanting to run). However, I will not go running; I’m dedicated to rest rest rest and trust my body is doing deep internal healing at its own pace.
7:30am: full body dry brush, facial gua sha, took a quick shower, still feeling awesome.
9am: it’s always an interesting experience when you poop after 5 days of not eating…. man, I don’t know what that was, but I’m glad it’s no longer inside of me.
11:45am: about 2 hours of (slightly cloudy) #nakedsuntime, but it feels nice to be outside.
End of Day 5: One fascinating thing comparing this fast to my last experience is that I’m not cold at all this time around. The weather is warmer, but it hasn’t been insanely warm. During my last fast (ok admiringly it was definitely much colder then) I would have these bouts of unshakable chills, and would cover myself up in piles of blankets. Intuitively I have always gravitated to detox during warmer weather, and this is definitely a sign that even early spring (a Canadian spring..) is not necessarily the best time to fast. I will have to factor this in moving forward and consider taking trips down South if/ when I want to fast again during colder months.
Also, my senses are LIT. This happened last time too. There’s an open jar of coconut oil at the other side of the room and I swear to god I keep getting whiffs of it.
Day 6: Tuesday May 15
Sleep report: went to bed around 9:30pm and woke up at 6am, but I did wake up a few times (2, maybe 3?) throughout the night. I got up and went to pee, but I don't think it was the need to pee that woke me up. I did fall asleep relatively quickly each time.
8:30am: I’m feeling good today, not as energetic as yesterday (body feels a little weaker) but I deep cleaned my room, changed my bed sheets (one of my fav hobbies not even kidding), dry brushed my whole body, showered, gua sha’d my face, and am going to have a super productive day powering through school work.
End of Day 6: The day went well overall, I got HEAPS done both for my course and did all the planning for the itinerary of my trip to Europe (booked all my flight, accommodation.. which I’ve been putting off for eons). My brain whilst writing for my school program was literally on fire- making so many deep connections in my head and words truly flowing like from another dimension. I’ve had similar flow states in every day life and especially while microdosing psilocybin (learn more HERE), but honestly never to this degree. Complete and utter clarity of thought and expression.
I am also feeling the length of this fast mentally; I sat in bed around 8pm thinking it was almost over and realized HOLY SHIT, 4 more FULL days- which feels like an eternity in the time warp of water fasting. Because I’m not eating, exercising, working, or cooking - my entire routine is gone. Those 4 things are the only things I do, literally. So having to spend entire days just not doing all the things I normally do is really challenging mentally. However these feelings subside come morning time.
Day 7: Wednesday May 16
Sleep report: Bed by 10:30pm. I couldn’t find my mouth tape last night so I just slept au natural, but had an incredible long and deep sleep anyways. Note: I am not a mouth breather by nature, so I often don’t mouth tape at night. But if you are, this habit will be transformative to your sleep and energy in general.
12:30pm: spent about two hours reading in the sunshine
3:30pm: took an hour nap, it was divine
End of Day 7: Ok this day has blown my MIND! Let me tell you why. Water fasting triggers deep deep cellular healing, and it very common for longer block water fasts to trigger sensation is old injury sites because the body is going back and doing more work in areas that never had a chance to fully heal. Today I started having this weird shooting sensation in my right knee out of no where while I was laying I the sun, and this sensation has persisted on and off throughout the afternoon. Back in the summer of 2011 I broke my knee (patella), but the thing is I can’t remember which one.. it was so long ago, and I’ve tried to remember a few times for miscellaneous reasons but I just have no clue. Anyways the first thing I thought when I started getting this knee pain was “holy shit, I wonder if my fast is healing my broken knee… of SEVEN YEARS AGO!” So I called the physiotherapy place that I went to following the break, and the woman kindly went searching through the back room in old files. When she called me back to tell me it was my right knee I pretty much burst of excitement (poor women, she must be so confused…). Seven days of fasting, seven years of internal healing: powerful. Now of course, this is speculative; but let me say: I have basically not left my home all week. I’ve only gone downstairs a handful of times, I spend most of my time working upstairs, where I also sleep, and spending time outside on the deck directly connected to my bedroom. There’s just no damn way my knee pain was even remotely inflicted today- my intuition is just yelling that my body is going back and doing some deep deep repair. INCREDIBLE.
Day 8: Thursday May 17
Sleep report: I had a bru-tal sleep last night. Went to bed tired around 9:30pm and was laying in bed wide awake until nearly 1am (!!!!!!!) Not even kidding I haven’t been “up” that late in like 3 years. I checked the phone every so often and couldn't believe it. I just stayed relaxed, focused on my breath, and eventually remembered I have some dope sleeping music on my iPhone, so I played it really low volume and it seemed to eventually work (LINK). I woke up around 7am feeling great. I wonder if it’s because I took a nap yesterday afternoon, since I never ever normally nap- but my instinct tell me it was just some fast related healing going on that help my body up (cortisol, release when you're stressed- and fasting IS stressful on the body- keeps you awake).
7:30am: full of energy and excitement today cause the end is near! Full body dry brush, quick shower, followed by a facial gua ha
11am: I am on fire today, my brain is just on Jedi mode, I’ve completed SO MUCH school work, troubleshooted some booking stuff for my trip, and am about to head out on the deck to finish the book I started reading yesterday + catch some sun rays.
3:30pm: Took a short 30 minute nap; the sunshine just knocked me out, but I set my alarm to avoid over sleeping and potentially interfering with my sleep at night.
4pm: Today is a milestone in my fasting journey because well first of all its the longest I’ve fasted, but also it’s the day that I put my bone broth on to simmer!! I simmer my bone broth for 48 hours, so I time my fast to have the broth ready right around the time I break my fast. It feels so good to start that simmer knowing I’ll be eating delicious broth is just TWO DAYS!
End of Day 8: Another crazy productive work day, my brain is it total flow state and incredibly inspired (well, even more than usual). The whole house smells like broth, and I’m feeling super good today. Reflecting on my past fast I am infinite times more strong- my body was pretty weak all over last time. My legs still feel a bit heavy when I go up and down the stairs, and sometimes my heart will race a bit after walking the stairs, but compared to last time I’m much better. I know this sounds crazy, but I’m already excited to see what my next extended water fast brings!
Day 9: Friday May 18
Sleep report: Much like last night, it took me forever to fall asleep. I powered down around 9:30pm but didn’t fall asleep until past midnight. This is very unusual for me, as I normally hit the pillow and then wake up in the morning. During my last fast I woke up many times in the middle of the night- but went back to my regular long, deep sleeps after I broke my fast. This time around it’s just been these past two nights having trouble falling asleep, but I’m still waking up rested (around 6ish am), and am not concerned. Just trusting the process.
Side note: my nails have never been longer, nor stronger in my life. It’s insane, they’ve grown SO quickly during this fast; definitely a positive sign.
End of Day 9: Ok these “end of days” are getting a little repetitive (sorry!) but I guess it’s slightly inevitable given a 10 day journal. If ever I do a 30 day fast, I totally will just give you a weekly summary. But here goes: I feel fantastic, my brain is still on fire- in particular as it pertains to my writing, which is really just flowing like crazy. My body feels great and I can’t believe this is the last night! Feeling so full of gratitude for this experience.
Day 10: Saturday May 19
Sleep report: Possibly the best sleep of my life- which was so surprising when I woke up this morning. Went to bed around 10ish pm and woke up at 7:30am feeling more rejuvenated than perhaps I ever have in the morning. Given the fact it took me ages to fall asleep the past two nights I was totally expecting the same but nope, had a beast of a sleep.
I’m in total awe that it’s already day 10. Don’t get me wrong- it also felt like an eternity; water fasting sets me into a total time warp, and it kind of feels like I haven't eaten in 5 lifetimes. I am SO EXCITED TO EAT! But also waking up this morning (much like waking up on the last day of my last fat) I feel so damn good, it’s like my body just wants me to continue (I won’t), but I think something psychological happens on the last day, some sort of shift.
It’s pissing rain outside today, which actually feels really nice and peaceful. I’m going to gua sha my face right now, get some writing done, and then when the rain stops I’ll ride my bicycle to the organic co-op and stock up on ALL THE FOODS (you bet your ass I’ve been progressively making a grocery list throughout the week!).
I plan to break my fast the exact same way I did last time: with carrots and celery cooked in bone broth, a big bowl of coconut kefir, and a probiotic. Check out my Ultimate Guide To Breaking A Fast HERE.
Opportunity for Growth
The science on how the body grows new stem cells post-fast is sound, but there is another opportunity to grow in the following days, weeks, and months. Fasting breaks your regular routine, so this is a powerful opportunity to implement new habits/ routines, or goals.
Here are the 3 goals i plan to implement post-fast:
- No screens while I eat: focus on being present and grateful with my food (which is proven to aid digestion, reduce bloat, improve nutrient assimilation/ absorption), and also pays respect to the food on my plate that gave its life to give me life.
- Be more diligent with my 1 day a week 24 hour fasts
- Drink celery juice first thing every morning before breakfast
sensitivity, spirituality, and epiphanies
I didn't know where to put this section so I'm just slapping it here at the end. One profound takeaway I had during this fast was how deeply connected I became to myself, and how incredibly sensitive I became to the world around me. I went inwards- big time.
I spent days 3-10 literally at home and in my garden, and wasn't exposed (and distracted by) the outside world like I normally am all day long. When I left my house on day 10 to get groceries, I had insane epiphanies. Not only was I extremely sensitive to smell, sounds, and other physical senses- but I was powerfully sensitive regarding things like people's energy, and even the vibration of specific music. I stopped by the gym for a quick sauna + dry brush and normally I listen to a podcast in the sauna, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. I was craving a kirtan- in particular the hindu chanting of Krishna Das. I felt so overwhelmed by the nasty modern rap/ pop that was blasting in the locker rooms, it seriously disgusted me on a level I haven't ever experienced.
An incredible book called Power vs. Force by David R. Hawkins examines (among other things) the vibration of music and the impact of your own inner work on the collective consciousness- so I had been exposed to this quite a while ago, but I was making connections on this subject in my head like never before. Hawkins highlights the frequency of the music itself, noting that rap music holds an extremely low vibration compared to the tuning of old classical music that tends to resonate at 432 Hz. Sitting there in the gym change room I realized that it isn't the frequency of the music in so much as the vibration of the person performing it. Most of the modern day music played on the radio is total garbage to the ears, but on a deeper level it's lowering your vibration due to the unconsciousness of the performer. Listening to artists like Tupac, man- his words transmit his unfathomable consciousness directly into the heart of the listener- irrelevant of the hertz at which the music plays.
Fasting is a deeply religious experience across the globe, be it in Catholicism, Judaism, Islam, or Buddhism- fasting is entrenched in religious practice and I'm finally (starting to) understand why. When you fast for extended periods of time, you get closer to God. By God, I mean the holy trinity in a non-denominal sense: the source of creation, the thing that unites us all. I recently listened to someone describe this so beautifully, that this trinity (that also exists in all religions) is the physical, the spirit that animates it, and the place that this spirit comes from.
The dancer is the Son, the dance is the Spirit, and the place that the dance comes from is the Father. Whether you want to call it Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, or Brahma, Shiva, and Krishna- there are infinite ways to describe the fact that there is a place from which energy comes, and this energy flows down and animates living things. When you fast, you tap into this place- you become more connected, more sensitive, more intuitive, more alive. It's powerful, it's beautiful, and it is truly the expression of magic.
Another aspect to fasting that is explored through religion is the idea of repentance or burning off karma. I am not well versed in this yet, but I am starting to understand it intuitively through the experience of this fast. A prolonged water fast is the perfect time to practice letting go of the past and forgiveness for one's own mistakes as well as the mistakes others have imposed onto us. I very much look forward to exploring the teachings on fasting and karmic debt in the near future.
Words like God and religion needn't scare you- spirituality is the awareness of a greater truth; and for people to say they are "spiritual" but not "religious" is so naive. It's all the same thing: we're tapping into something that is greater than ourselves, we're seeking the Truth, we're waking up.
On the first day of this 10-day fast, I offered for people to submit questions regarding fasting through social media, and these are the questions that I received. I am not a doctor, the answers come purely from my own (intensive) research, experience, and intuition.
1. Have you experience any hormonal changes? Menstruation? Delays or none at all?
This is an awesome question. As a student of holistic reproductive health, I am very passionate about this subject and very dedicated to optimizing my own personal hormonal health and fertility.
Fasting has immense hormonal benefits, including the fact that it increases hormone sensitivity. What that means is that by water fasting, your body develops a much clearer communication between the components of your hormonal system. Basically it helps your body run more effectively- the way it should naturally. So in the short term it does cause stress- I would consider this acute stress (a process called hormesis) whereby the body in the short term is under stress, but it builds resilience once the source of stress subsides; and so you end up being stronger than before the exposure the the stress. (Unlike low levels of underlying chronic stress, that deplete the body, tax your hormones and your nervous system, and can lead to serious problems like depression, burn out, etc). This is massively important, because fasting is NOT the same as long-term calorie restrictive diets. Fasting = short bouts of stress, that build resilience. Calorie deprivation long term (or block fasting too regularly) = chronic stress (aka hot mess).
In terms of menstruation, it did absolutely delay my period during my first 7 day fast. There are many possible reasons for this, but the most likely it is that ovulation is delayed by stress, and prolonged water fasting is inevitably a form of stress. Stress is stress, so although hormetic stressors might be positive (like exercise, or sauna), they still signal to the body that something else is going on in the woman's life, and that it is not an optimal time to get pregnant. Because fasting is such a stressor on the body, I opt for total relaxation during these fasting periods. No exercise, no sauna: I avoid anything that will place an added burden of stress on my body. I am also mindful of my lifestyle when not fasting, which includes caffeine consumption, proper sleep hygiene, not using any artificial chemical products on my body, not drinking tap water, eating organic, etc. For me, the impact of a delayed menstruation does not outweigh all the incredible benefits of fasting. I am definitely conscious of not over-doing it, and always listening to my body throughout the process. Despite having a target amount of days for a prolonged water fast, I will without hesitation break it early if it's what my body is asking for.
During this past 10-day fast, I was on day 15 of my cycle when I began (just prior to ovulation), and on day 22 I started bleeding for two days. I didn’t ovulate, so I am unsure if this is a menstrual bleed or just a break through bleed (it was very light). Now I do have a theory on why this happened; it could be the stress of fasting, but I genuinely think it was my body getting rid of damaged tissue. This is what happens in the body (the process of autophagy clears out the weakest tier of your cells, that are unable to function on ketones) and I don’t see why it would be any different in the uterus. Having been diagnosed with PCOS when I was about 21, I know there were small cysts on one of my ovaries- and I wonder if that was the body shedding such type of matter. It’s important to note that I could be WAY off, and given the complex nature of the human body- it’s more likely than not that I’m wrong, but: there is a lot of mystery surrounding menstrual health and fasting as well, and so it’s absolutely plausible and certainly not out of the question. Because I felt great throughout these 10 days, I am not concerned about any possible short-term impacts (like perhaps an early or late menstruation) in comparison to the long term benefits of fasting.
I'll also note that it’s imperative to go into a fast with strong adrenals and hormonal systems, because like I mentioned above, water fasting is definitely a major source of stress. Although it has incredible benefits on the hormone sensitivity, boots HGH, testosterone, generates stem cell production, etc- if you enter a fast from a very weak place, you could be setting yourself up for a hormonal crash (hormonal fatigue, or whatever else you want to call it).
2. What is the best water to drink?
In a nutshell: clean water. You absolutely do not want to fast using tap water, or plastic bottled water. Both those options are full of endocrine disrupting neurotoxins, and you would be better off not fasting at all. I personally use spring water, that I get delivered to my house in large containers twice a month. The company I use offers glass bottles, but even the plastic ones are not as harmful since they are filled just prior to delivery and consumed within a few days. The issue with conventional plastic bottles is that they are filled while still hot, and then repeatedly exposed to hot and cold environments- leaching toxins into the water.
Some water fasters advocate for using distilled water (which is basically the vapour that is evaporated when you boil water), but intuitively that doesn’t feel right for my body. Because distilled water is void of any minerals, prolonged consumption of distilled water will begin to rob your body of its natural mineral stores... and I don't dig that.
Whether you go filtered water, spring water, or distilled, it’s really about avoiding introducing poison into your body while you're embarking on a deep cellular detox.
Note: Brita is NOT a real filter (it does not remove any harmful chemicals and in fact the filter contains aluminium and actually increases the aluminium content of the water). Boiling water to “clean” it is also absolutely terrible- not only does it not remove any pollutants, it actually INCREASES the ratio of harmful chemicals because the steam boiling out of the water is pure distilled water; what you are left with is a concentration of tap water pollutants. The only time boiling water does any good to the cleanliness of water is if the water contains bacteria or parasites, in which case it would kill them.
Note no. 2: A true, therapeutic fasts means no flavoured water (even 0 calorie, and actually especially 0 calorie stuff), no bubbly water, no tea, no coffee, just plain filtered/ clean water. You also want to avoid drinking your water cold, because the body is going through a very yin process and cold water will burden your system. Opt for room temperature water, and if you feel cold (which many people do) have some warm/ hot water. If you're including coffee during your fast, I urge you to give THIS a read.
3. Can you do infrared sauna while water fasting?
Can you? Yes. Should you? No. Infrared sauna is a powerful detoxification method, and I am head over heels in love with it. I’ve personally done the “niacin infrared” detox protocol, and owning my own IR is at the top of my #lifegoals list, however they induce hormesis (stress) on the body, and the body is already under tremendous stress during a fast. Hormesis is good stress, and I 1000% recommend getting in an IR sauna as much as possible pre- and post- fasting, but the mechanisms by which your body undergoes autophagy and deep cellular healing are so profound and unfathomably perfect that you do not need to get in the way of your body.
The only time I would suggest hopping in the sauna (or exposing yourself to any sort of hormetic stressor, like exercise) would be on day 1 of the fast, to perhaps stimulate autophagy quicker- when your body is still basically functioning normally. You might also consider a form of hormetic stress just prior to breaking your fast, when your body is about to get re-fed. You really have to just listen to your own body and what it wants. During my first (7 day) fast, I went for an upper body weight lifting session on Day 1 which felt amazing, but then was incredibly weak days 2-6 of my fast (and somehow regained my strength on Day 7 before breaking the fast). I intuitively think I pushed it too hard on Day 1, and despite completely resting days 2-6, I just felt weak and exhausted anytime I did anything other that lay in bed. During this 10-day fast I had an easy relaxing Finnish sauna on Day 1, and I have felt awesome throughout. So Day 1 perhaps, but:
avoid trying to make the fast “better” with hacks; the ultimate hack is water fasting.
4. Should you take your supplements? How about your medication?
You should definitely not take your supplements. They'll create a metabolic response and interfere with the depth of autophagy. Trust your body knows exactly what to do, and focus on nourishing and rebuilding your immune, gut, etc, post fast with nutrient dense, probiotic rich, and easy to digest whole foods.
In terms of medication, I am not a medical doctor and really cannot say. Medication does have a metabolic effect on the body, so inevitably it would slightly reduce the benefits of fasting, but you have to be smart in that many medications cannot simply be stopped without severe repercussions. I suggest speaking to your doctor about the effects of stopping your medication for X amount of days, but know that many doctors are not educated about the benefits of water fasting, and will more than likely try to talk you out of it. There are many experienced fasting coaches out there that you could seek guidance from who also have doctoral expertise, and would be a better resource for addressing your individual needs regarding medication. Dr. Daniel Pompa is an example of such a doctor, and he actually trains physicians to become water fasting coaches- you can find more info at https://drpompa.com.
5. Can you do coffee enemas?
I am probably the biggest spokesperson for coffee enemas- I absolutely love and live by them, but would not do them during a water fast. When I am not fasting, I do them 1-2 times a week religiously (and have been for years), but during a water fast it’s really an opportunity to get out of the body’s way and let it engage its unfathomable wisdom. Much like infrared sauna, these habits are powerful tools for healing, but the process of fasting itself is incredibly powerful, you don't need to add in any other habits during this time. Plus, it is possible and not uncommon for a small amount of caffeine to permeate the colon and get into the blood stream, and during a fast you really don’t want to introduce any caffeine in the body. Save your enemas for pre-and post fast. I did a few coffee enemas in a row in the days leading up to my fast, but not throughout.
6. Aren’t you absolutely starving?
Haha, surprisingly… no! This is one of the most mind boggling things for me when it comes to fasting. During my first 7-day fast, I didn't feel hunger once… which absolutely blew my little mind apart. How was it possible? We grow up thinking that skipping a meal would just build hunger to the point of starvation, but this simply isn’t true. Your hunger levels rely greatly on your diet, in that if you control your blood sugar levels- you pretty much will never feel hungry. When you don’t control your blood glucose, your body is sent on an energy roller coaster (your GI will spike, and what goes up must come down). When your blood sugar crashes, so do you; and that crash will have you reaching for more sugar (which is often that feeling of "hunger" you get). I truly believe the key to nutrition is controlling your blood sugar, and doing so pre-emptively before a fast (and ideally all the time) will ensure you have a smooth experience.
During this past 10-day fast, I did have a few hunger sensations randomly on Day 5, and again on Day 8/ 9, but they come and go pretty much straight away. The fascinating thing is that they are not ravenous like you might expect a hunger pang after 5 days of not eating anything would be, they are the exact same as if you had a hard workout and are ready for a feed. So hunger is this signal you receive, but it really isn't based on reality- because my hunger sensation after 5 days on water is the same as the occasional hunger I feel after not eating for say 5 or 6 hours. We're so used to gratifying this sensation of "hunger" right away that we never realize it's more of a fleeting sensation.
7. How is your sleep during a fast?
During my last fast, not the best; I had many restless nights where I would wake up at 3am and be up for an hour of two before falling asleep. It was kind of annoying because I am regularly the world’s best sleeper, and I really understand and value the importance of sleep. This time around I have been sleeping with no problems, apart from one night where I couldn’t fall asleep for an hour or so. This time around I did tape my mouth (learn more about that HERE), which I believe helped me get into a deeper sleep; but also this fast has been so easy I think it’s just a different experience.
The body undergoes deep healing during a fast (and does heal every night while you sleep); the Traditional Chinese Medicine point of view teaches that each organ undergoes repair at a very specific time of the night, they often recommend keeping track of the time you wake up in the night to see if perhaps a certain organ is having trouble repairing itself, and might warrant support or a detox.
Remember: everyone’s fasting experiences are completely individual. I have read about many people who usually have terrible sleep and who slept like logs during their fast, and others who are up literally the entire night. Just do your best to optimize your sleep hygiene (more on that HERE), and set yourself up for success; after that- don’t fret. Just close your eyes, relax, meditate laying down, and just trust the process.
8. How much weight do you lose?
This question triggers me a bit because the last thing I want to do is for anyone to embark on a water fast with the goal of losing weight. If your primary goal is to lose weight during a fast, I’m genuinely concerned you are setting yourself up for a very unhealthy relationship with yourself and your body. Fasting is an incredibly powerful healing tool, and fat loss is a bi-product of your body getting rid of unhealthy cells, regenerating itself, and healing. If you go into this with no other purpose than weight loss, you are likely setting yourself up to have an averse relationship with food. I’m speaking from the heart when I say: take care of yourself. Love yourself. Nourish yourself. I urge you to embark on journeys to help and heal your body from a place of love, not from a place of self-hate.
That being said, during my 7 day fast I lost 10lbs (5 of which was water weight and was regained within a week) and during this past 10 day fast I lost 15 lbs, about half of which I expect is water weight.
There is an awesome podcast in which a man who fasted 28 days took a dexa scan (body composition) before, after, and one month later, which determined that during these 28 days drinking only water he lost ONLY body fat. Yep, that’s right: no muscle loss whatsoever. The body is one amazing machine. Link to podcast at the bottom of the article (it’s the one titled “Water Fasts" as a Potential Tactic to Beat Cancer with Dr. Thomas Seyfried).
9. I a few friends who would like to do a 10-day fast, but are diabetics, would you recommend such a fast? If so, what warnings/suggestions would you give?
There is a lot of conflicting information on the web, in particular with metabolic syndromes. I know this personally because PCOS (which I was diagnosed with when I was 21 and "beat" about 3 years ago) is very similar to diabetes in its nature. From my experience with insulin resistance, the #1 factor is controlling blood sugar all day, every day. Don't think that fasting will fix your problems if you have insulin resistance and are also regularly consuming a sugar filled diet (even healthy sugars). First, manage your blood sugar- permanently. Yes this means a massive lifestyle change for most, but if you want to heal you need to dedicate yourself to a new way of life. Fasting will optimize your hormones sensitivity, but you also cannot simply return to a high sugar diet and think that problems won't start to creep up again.
There is a lot of information out there on the benefits of fasting for diabetics, in many cases people fasting with Type 2 diabetes has actually shown to reverse it all together. That being said, diabetes is a complicated paradigm, and I suggest seeking guidance from a professional (like Dr. Daniel Pompa or one of his team of doctors trained in the art of fasting) to guide you through it. You can work remotely with a trained fasting expert in conjuncture with your primary care physician as well.
I've included links to studies, podcasts, and more information about fasting with diabetes at the bottom of the article, and please look into Dr. Don Clum's work on this subject.
10. How about taking charcoal products during the fast?
Without wanting to sound like a broken record: charcoal is AWESOME, but not during a fast. When fasting on water only your body goes into Jedi mode; nothing should come in between it and the inner work that needs to be done. Consuming anything but water, and doing anything but rest will just interfere with the natural autophagy process. Save your charcoal for pre- fasting, and definitely wait a week or two before reintroducing it into the body after you break your fast- as it is a powerfully abrasive agent and you want to ensure your gut lining and flora are strong before taking anything of the sorts.
Thank you for reading! I hope the information above answered some questions you might have had, and inspired you to get fasting! I feel such a profound sense of achievement after these 10 days and immense gratitude for the gift of being human- I genuinely wish that every single person can experience the magic of prolonged water fasting.
Do you fast? What impacts has fasting had on your life? And if you have any more questions, please don't hesitate to comment below.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES TO DIVE DEEPER
More fasiting-related resources I have come across since my last article on the subject.
resources mentioned from becoming fully human
- Check out the bottom of my first 7 day fasting experience for many resources on fasting I have come across since my first fast HERE
- Check out my top fasting tips HERE
- Find out the ultimate way to break a water fast HERE
- Learn more about ways to optimize your sleep HERE
- Learn more about flow-states induced by microdosing psilocybin mushrooms HERE
- Learn more about the impacts of caffeine on the body HERE
- Learn how to give yourself a gua sha HERE
- The 7 Benefits of Water Fasting on Cellular Healing TV with Dr. Daniel Pompa (also found on your podcast app)
- Water Fasts as a Potential Tactic to Beat Cancer with Dr. Thomas Seyfried
- Water Fasting For Cancer Prevention and Treatment on the Ben Greenfield Podcast
- Mind Pump: Raw Fitness Truth - The Benefits Of Fasting
- A Fasting Experience by “Green Smoothie Girl”
- Fasting for Muscle Gain with the Mind Pump crew (they briefly touch on the subject at the beginning of the podcast)
- Insulin, Visceral Fat and Health - Don Clum and Dr. Jay Davidson
- Fasting on the Health Bridge Podcast by Sara Gottfried and Pedram Shojai (and East meets West perspective that focuses on importance of listening to your body during a fast, and the spiritual aspect of fasting).
- Ways To Intermittent Fast For Muscle Gain by the Mind Pump crew (a great video on a simple guide to ways you can intermittent fast as a way to prepare for a longer fast)
- A Q&A with the “Mind Pump” fitness bros about the power of fasting for muscle gain and a brilliant easy-to-understand break down on fasting/ autophagy
- Intermittent Fasting Survival Guide https://www.mindpumpmedia.com/store/BnSRBKbr
- Fasting and stem cell production: https://www.cell.com/cell-stem-cell/fulltext/S1934-5909(18)30163-2
- The ketogenic diet increases mitochondrial glutathione levels. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18466343
- The retardation of aging in mice by dietary restriction: longevity, cancer, immunity and lifetime energy intake. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3958810
- The therapeutic implications of ketone bodies: the effects of ketone bodies in pathological conditions: ketosis, ketogenic diet, redox states, insulin resistance, and mitochondrial metabolism. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14769489
- Fasting-Mimicking Diet Promotes Ngn3-Driven β-Cell Regeneration to Reverse Diabetes https://www.cell.com/cell/fulltext/S0092-8674(17)30130-7