I’ll start with a health warning. Prolonged water fasts aren’t something that should be undertaken lightly. Fasting is not for anyone with an eating disorder or who does not enjoy a “normal” relationship with food.
I have been on my “weight loss” and now “weight maintenance” journey for almost 9 years.
My fast was not undertaken with weight loss as the primary goal (although it is one of the great side-effects!)
My own personal reason for trying water fasting was to enjoy the benefits of Autophagy
I’ve just completed my second (4 day) prolonged water only fast and that has prompted me to write about my experience of my first ever (3 day) water fast, undertaken in November 2020.
As is my style, I did rather jump in at the deep end. One should build up gradually – a single day water fast, then a lengthy break (a couple of months), then a two day water fast, etc.
I read quite a lot beforehand about what to expect. Some of the things I anticipated happened as expected. There were other things (positive and negative) that I most certainly didn’t expect.
I won’t go into all the information available on prolonged water fasting as you can Google that yourself. This link will take you to a site I’ve found useful.
Instead, what follows is my own experience.
Day 1, Friday 30th October
Start weight 9st 7.6lbs (60.6kg)
Liquid intake – During the day I drank only a pint of SOLE solution which is an important part of the fasting process. The idea is to sip the solution throughout the day. I also had a pint of bottled water containing 4 drops of fulvic acid minerals.
In terms of liquid intake, I drank only when thirsty and in small, regular quantities.
Other than water, I drank green tea (ideally those containing matcha – Twinings and Pukka are two brands I’ve used) and black coffee.
Activity levels and exercise – I purposefully chose days when I had little planned and only did what I had energy for and felt comfortable with. My usual daily workout is a 30 minute seated stretch routine, followed by a vigorous elevating heart rate bounce on a gym ball whilst swinging my arms wildly!
During the morning, I was out at 11am to a local distanced litter pick that continued until 12.30pm.
Hunger – I was surprised at my lack of hunger. I became slightly peckish after the time of my usual first meal of the day (midday, I eat 2 meals a day) but it was nothing that I couldn’t deal with and soon passed. I managed to do my 30 minute stretch session.
Sleep – Bed early (9pm) and slept well – 6 hours 35 mins, FitBit sleep score of 79 (Fair)
FitBit Data – Burned 1,361 calories, 3,930 steps
Day 2, Saturday 31st October
9st 5.4lbs (loss 2.2lbs) 59.6kg (1kg)
Ketone levels 4.1
Very much as day one, but without the litter pick. Really surprised that hunger wasn’t an issue, especially after 24 hours without food. I continued to sip on the SOLE solution and drink the green tea. My energy levels were good, but I did go to bed early (9.30pm) and slept well, but started to experience some lower back pain. It was one of my “usual aches and pains”….
Sleep – Slept 9 hours 5 mins, FitBit sleep score of 74 (Fair)
FitBit Data – Burned 1,341 calories, 3,380 steps
Weakness is a vital part of fasting’s slowing down process.
Back pain can increase due to toxins in the lower intestine. Blood vessels that draw nutrients from the colon are very close to the nerves of the spine. Back pain will often decrease after elimination of the toxins.
Day 3, Sunday 1st November
9st 3.8lbs (loss 1.6lbs) Total loss 3.8lbs
58.8kg (1kg) Total loss 1.8kg
Ketone levels 4.8
Depleted Energy and nausea – Woke feeling lethargic and lacking in energy. After my shower and green tea, felt nauseous and then promptly vomited. As my stomach was empty, this was just the return of the green tea!
I felt absolutely fine afterwards (I think this was caused by gulping my first cup of tea down in one go.)
I didn’t do very much on this third and final day, but I had planned my fast to take advantage of a quiet Sunday.
Pain – By end of the evening, my lower back and backs of thighs (glutes) started to ache. This ache slowly increased. It felt as though I’d been doing some serious exercise. I reached the point late in the day where I was barely able to move without pain in those areas. I applied magnesium oil to the area before bed and Volterol to my lower back.
Once the fast is over, return to “normal eating” should be gradual. The digestive tract hasn’t seen much action and take a while to get into action. It’s also wise to try and keep the Autophagy going as long as possible – keeping to higher “good fat” foods, low protein, lowish calories, smaller portions.
So although the fast is over, by continuing to monitor food intake one can maintain Autophagy. The basic idea behind autophagy is that in the absence of external sources of food, the body begins to eat itself (auto: self, phage: eat), destroying and recycling its own damaged cell bits and proteins, so that new and healthy versions can be built. Autophagy is believed to be essential for helping protect against diseases like cancer and dementia, among others.
Day 4, Monday 2nd November
9st 2.4lbs (loss 1.4lbs) Total loss 5.2lbs
58.4kg (0.4kg) Total loss 2.2kg
Ketone levels 2.8
Day 5, Tuesday 3rd November
9st 2lbs (loss 0.4lbs) Total loss 5.6lbs
58kg (0.4kg) Total loss 2.6kg
Ketone levels 1.4
Day 6, Wednesday 4th November
9st 2.2lbs (loss 0.2lbs) Total loss 5.8lbs)
57.6kg (0.2kg) Total loss 2.8kg
Day 7, Thursday 5th November
9st 0.6lbs (loss 1lbs) Total loss 6.6lbs
57.4kg (0.4kg) Total loss 3.2kg
Conclusion – Although this account of my first prolonged water fast may lead you to believe it wasn’t very positive (and even quite a negative ordeal!) I enjoyed it. As the pain subsided, I was in a lot less generalised pain than I had been ahead of the fast.
I had also lost weight ahead of Christmas and that was a good thing!
Although early days and not many studies have been carried out, it is generally believed that fasting can help with the reduction of inflammation, so useful for anyone who lives with chronic pain. It may also help with boosting the immune system.
I have just finished my second (4 day) water only fast and will be sharing my experiences with you shortly in my next Blog post.