Water fasting can have incredible benefits for your entire body. But you need to understand water fasting is not for everyone.
Again: Water fasting is not for everyone.It's a disclaimer and it's important to note. However, the benefits are undeniable
NOTE: WATER FASTING CAN BE UNSAFE FOR SOME. WE CANNOT AND DO NOT ENDORSE WATER FASTING FOR ALL. PLEASE CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR TO MAKE SURE YOU ARE HEALTHY AND ABLE BEFORE WATER FASTING
What is water fasting?
It's simple in nature.
Water fasting takes intermittent fasting to the next level. For 1 to 21 days (or sometimes even longer), you kiss food goodbye and treat water like your lover. You drink it frequently and passionately.[a]
Easy to say, difficult to do -- even for the most diligent fasters. There's no lemon or artificial sweeteners. No cayenne pepper to keep it interesting. Just pure, filtered water with some added electrolytes. And a lot of it.[b][c]
Don't worry though. There are some tips below to help you out because this is something you're definitely going to want to try -- especially because you've already read this far.
The benefits of water fasting
Let's say for a minute you were interested in ditching some tired passengers in your body. Or you wanted your blood flowing like a lazy river in the summer. Smooth, relaxing (AKA lower blood pressure). Maybe your blood needs a time-out from sugar and carbs so your body can behave like it should.[d]
Whatever your reason, water fasting gives your body the ability to focus on itself again, instead of the roughly 10% of your energy it spends digesting your food.
This is NOT something you do to permanently lose weight. You'll put most of it back on when you start eating again. So consider water fasting routine maintenance. Like an oil change.
Now... here's what everything above means.
Autophagy - Goodbye, old cells. Hello, new
Your body is like a hoarder -- unless you tell it to clean itself up.
The reason is your body simply doesn't have time, energy, or the focus to ditch your "senior" cells.
There's nothing inherently wrong with them. But it's kind of like your uncle that takes the batteries that can no longer power toys, puts them in the refrigerator, and then uses them to replace the TV remote batteries. Except your body uses them the whole time.
By doing a water fast, you remove the obstacles for your body to start evicting these older cells from your body. The water and energy you use for digestion can be used to do other important jobs. It's like taking a vacation to clean up your house.
In its most basic form, there's a three step process that occurs here:
- The lower-functioning cells are identified and broken down
- Whatever can be used to help build new cells is recycled
- Everything else is swept away by water and carried out of your body
You're changing your oil. Or power-washing.
But really, it's called autophagy (which translates to self-eating) and the best way to trigger it is fasting.
Normal Blood Flow
In your veins and through your heart. Just for clarification.
Logically, this one is easy enough to make sense of. If you're like most people, you're probably not drinking enough water. And if you're counting your cups of water, you're doing it all wrong.
Just like with your car, you're looking for a pale yellow color (of urine). The darker your urine is, the less hydrated you are.
Now, if you're continually not drinking enough water, your blood isn't flowing like it's designed to do. That's part one.
Part two of this is you're turning down your sympathetic system and turning the dial up on your parasympathetic.
Your sympathetic system is responsible for your flight or fight response. Since you don't have to dodge teeth and claws, your sympathetic system reacts to daily stress like getting stuck in traffic, loud kids, awful bosses, and fear of losing your job.
Normal stuff. Except your body thinks you're fighting for your life.
Fasting turns this off and tells your parasympathetic system to get into gear. It's colloquially known as the rest and digest system.
Since you're not going to be digesting anything (except old cells), your body goes into rest mode. Which, for it, means you're going to conserve energy and slow your heart rate.[e]
Your Sugar-Free Body
Your pancreas is one of the hardest workers in your body. Everytime you eat, your pancreas produces insulin.
This insulin is used to get sugar (energy) into your cells. Now, there are two ways you can royally mess this up.
- If you're eating sugary foods, foods with white flour as a base (bread, cake, and more), rice... they all get broken down into sugar quickly. Since there's so much of it, your pancreas goes into overdrive to direct all the new traffic.
- If you're eating often, your pancreas has to continually produce insulin to account for the sugars.
This is why your blood sugar increases after a meal. And the more you drive yourself to excess, the more these sugars act like kids throwing tantrums in a store. They act like dead weight and insulin has to use more manpower to get them out of the toy aisle and in the car.
Now imagine what would happen if you stopped eating and just drank water. Your pancreas and insulin get some much-needed R&R. There are no crying, fussy kids. Life is easy for your pancreas.
And when you start eating again, your insulin is able to work at its normal pace again... and get just as much done.
But for your body to rest, you need to put in some work. The following tips will help you work smarter, not harder.
Water Fasting Tips
No one said this was going to be easy. After your first time, you'll understand what works best for you. With these tips though, you can skip that line and jump right to your second. The learning curve is flattened.
The most important tip
Always remember why you're doing this. You're doing it for every benefit mentioned above and then some. The struggle is real, but you'll come out the other side all the better for it.
If you have a history of not finishing, have someone you're accountable to.[f]
Bet against yourself by giving $200 to a charity you hate. Write a check and give it to a friend that won't just rip it up. Do something so you follow through with your fast.
Start slow (pre-fast)
You'll have a much easier time getting through your fast if you start tapering off your food a few days before.
Your best bet is intermittent fasting. 3 days out, eat all your food with a 6 hour window. Then reduce how much you're eating and get down to 4 hours.
Don't act like it's Thanksgiving the day before you fast. You'll wind up hating yourself the next day.
Take a break
Be sensible. You're not going to be able to do this and work or go to school at the same time.
When your mind is consumed by the thoughts and smells of everything you can't have, your concentration goes right down the drain. Plus, you're liable to be shaky and in a mental slump for the first few days.
It's not unusual to have balance problems, so it's a good thing you won't have to drive to the grocery store.
Skip leg day
And any other workout day. Don't stress your body out and make it focus on repairing your muscles. This is a mental journey, so leave the brawn out of it.
Don't just sit there in agony. Breathe it in, breathe it out. The more you can calm your mind, the more you'll enjoy the experience. Make it spiritual or don't. But take this opportunity to get to know yourself better.
Don't make meditation more difficult than it needs to be. Get comfortable, close your eyes. Inhale fully, exhale fully. Focus on that until your mind becomes clear. If it wanders too much, focus on breathing again.
Drink when you're hungry
Fun fact: Most of the time, you're not actually hungry when you think you are. It's your body trying to tell you it's thirsty. When you go back to your normal life, try drinking a glass of water when you feel hungry. You'll understand.
Anyway, since you're not going to be able to put food in your mouth, you may as well put some water in there.
WARNING: Post-Water Fast
If you pay attention to any section, this is the one you need to read.
When you're done, don't just immediately launch back into eating -- even if you're just eating vegetables or drinking shakes.
DAY 1 Post-Fast:
For at least the first day, keep your food light and easy-to-digest and DO NOT eat any carbohydrates! It can make you sick and dizzy. Think salad, light proteins. No red meat yet.
You shut down the factory for X amount of days. Wait until the machines get back online and all the workers are ready to go. If not, stuff will either pile up or fly right by.
Broth is your friend. Bone broth is your best friend. It's loaded with nutrients your body can put to use easily and right away.
If you want juice, stick with vegetables and greens. No fruit juice. Stay away from root vegetables -- at least for the first day. While they have some good stuff, they're packed with sugar.
DAY 2 Post-Fast:
On Day 2, add some soft foods. Wilted kale, spinach, and baked vegetables work well here. Just put an extreme limit on any oil you put in. Too much fat will make you sick.
Add probiotic-rich foods back in here if you want. The less chewy, the better. You can have some
DAY 3 Post-Fast:
Days 3 -- you're still eating mushy foods but now can introduce more solids and merge back into more regular eating. But we recommend staying away from sugars (for good, really) but for at least 5 days, and very slowly reintroduce them.
Finally! The end...?
Remember why you put yourself through actual, painful, torturous hell for the first few days. You did it to reset your body. To clean yourself up.
Don't muck it all up by shovelling processed foods, junk food, sugar-laden anything and everything, and all the white carbs you've just had a break-up with. No matter how hard you try, you can't change them. They'll make you miserable and stressed and... They're just not worth it.
So eat organic, whenever you can. Or at least buy organic berries, greens, and fruit. Those are the produce most coated in pesticides because bugs can easily attack them.
And if you're eating meat: free-range, grass-fed, organic, wild-caught, etc are best.
Inside your heart of hearts, you know what's good for you. Listen to it. Follow its advice and you'll never (probably) go wrong.
PS: We have a product to help you stay hydrated and full of electrolytes during your fast. Check it out!
[a]people go up to 21 days fairly regularly
[b]Depends on how strict they are being, generally it comes down to not having an insulin response or calories. So no protein fat or carbs (which have cals) and no artificial sweeteners (which can effect insulin).
[c]Electrolytes during fasting are actually encouraged, see the facebook group Fasting for Fat Loss and read their units for more info, or watch my youtube video here and skip to the electrolyte section https://youtu.be/DghrZNUP5vo
[d]Should mention something about how people who are constantly eating foods which spike insulin can get insulin thats chronically high, fasting allows insulin to fall and thereby cells like fat cells can release fat more easily (insulin blocks fat breakdown when its chronically high)
[e]additionally fasting causes blood pressure to fall typically, you can look it up, its related to the body dropping large amounts of salt
[f]starting small and building up helps