Extended Fasts - 5 Day Water Fast
My husband recently completed a five day extended fast in which he only drank water. Because of his experience, he has some insightful information on extended fasts, which may be helpful to those interested in venturing.
Fasting & Ketosis
Fasting is an essential part of the keto diet. Not only does it naturally put you in a state of ketosis, but it also trains your will to be the master of your body. Mind over body is especially important in sustaining the keto diet. Furthermore, having the mental and emotional strength to overcome your unhealthy childhood comfort and convenient foods, social environments and peer pressures is essential to sustaining a keto lifestyle (see Fasting & Ketosis).
Before I get into my experience, I should let you know that I am a 44-year old male who has enjoyed relative health throughout my life. Consequently, I have rarely been in the hospital. Additionally, I do not have any noticeable illnesses and I am not on any pharmaceutical medications. I grew up eating the typical American diet. Furthermore, as an adult I have experimented with various ways of eating. At the time of the Five day fast, I was already living the keto-lifestyle and actively in ketosis. My body was already prepped for an extended fast. Consequently, when in ketosis you do not experience the same empty stomach pain as you do on a high carbohydrate diet.
Fasting has been a regular practice
I am not a new-comer to the practice of fasting. 24 hour fasting has been a monthly practice throughout my life. Additionally, I have fasted a few times for 3-4 days. I have fasted for longer periods of time. Despite my experience with fasting, I had not yet done a five day fast with only water. Consequently, when I learned of the powerful health benefits of a five day extended fast, I wanted to experience it for myself.
Preparing for an Extended Fast
Before I started the fast, I planned out a time when I would begin it. Additionally, I looked at these factors to determine the correct timing:
- Avoid holidays, vacations, or special occasions
- Turn down unreasonable expectations from other people, family / friends / business / civic or religious requirements
- Stay away from intense physical labor
- No distractions from dedication to meditation and prayer
I determined I would start my fast on Monday, April 9, 2018 and end my fast on the morning of April 14, 2018, thus making a total fasting period of 5 1/2 days.
I planned out before the fast what I would eat when I ended it to gently ease my body back into digesting food. Constipation naturally occurs as the digestive system is inactive during fasting periods. Consequently, eating foods that are easy to digest after a fast is very important. Throughout the fast, I would monitor and keep notes about how I felt. I approached this fast having studied the risks, so that I could fast in safety and good health.
My Fast Begins!
I began my fast on Sunday evening at 10:00 PM, ending my fast on Saturday at 10:30 AM. Total Duration: 5 1/2 days or 132.5 hours. During my fast I kept a log of my experience.
Day: 1 Monday 4/9/2018
|Water Consumption||3.75 Qtz|
|Physical Symptoms||Headache on left side temple, had to treat with Tylenol|
|Activity||Moved 6000 lbs of boxes to help a friend|
Day: 2 Tuesday 4/10/2018
|Water Consumption||4 Qtz|
|Physical Symptoms||Slight headache throughout the night/into the morning|
|Activity||Lifted and secured a collapsed ceiling to help a friend|
Day: 3 Wednesday 4/11/2018
|Water Consumption||4 Qtz|
|Physical Symptoms||Slight headache. Went to bed at 1:00 AM. Had difficulty falling asleep, could not sleep till 3 AM.|
|Activity||Met with friends had a discussion|
Day: 4 Thursday 4/12/2018
|Water Consumption||4.5 Qtz|
|Energy Level||9:00 am  4:00 pm  9:30 |
|Hunger Level||5 – 6|
|Physical Symptoms||I think around 4:00 pm my body went into a crisis state due to the lack of food and began to produce stem cells, I was weak, tired and had to lie down till 7:15 pm. I took a bath and recovered by degrees.|
|Activity||Very little activity, tried to go for a walk in the evening but was too weak.|
Day: 5 Friday 4/13/2018
|Water Consumption||5 Qtz|
|Energy Level||3 – 4|
|Physical Symptoms||Achy muscles, could not sleep all night. My body has been very weak with light-head, dizzy spells and nearly fainting when I rose from a laying position. Hunger pains constant and strong.|
|Activity||Went for a walk with my wife in the Park|
Day: 6 Saturday 4/14/2018 – RECOVERY
|Food Consumption||At 10:30 am – Drank 8 Oz of “Emergen-C” with 1-500 Mg magnesium and 1-probiotic pill. I slowly drank 1 quart of bone broth with cooked onion, spinach and carrot in it. I drank only as much as my body wanted, until I felt I could drink more.|
|Energy Level||4 – 5|
|Hunger Level||7 – In the morning dissipated as I began to eat|
|Physical Symptoms||Achy muscles, could not sleep all night.|
|Activity||Went for a scenic drive|
Will Power How Strong is Yours?
Extended fasts should be taken seriously and are not for the faint of heart. If you don’t feel that you would be able to fast for 5 days with only water, don’t be discouraged. I have learned that very few people are up to the challenge.
Challenges of extended fasts can push a person to their limit and beyond which is why many people are not able to reach the 5-day finish line. Because I have already had experience with 3 and 4 day complete fasts, I was confident I could go the distance. Like the Navy Seal whose training pushes him beyond the normal scope of human endurance, extended fasting shows you what metal you are made of. Furthermore, going without food for extended periods of time allows you to prove to yourself that your will is stronger than the demands of your body.
Suggestions to Strengthen Your Will Power!
When your stomach feels empty, when your energy is low, or when your mind drifts to your favorite foods, focus on what you are gaining.
- The liver begins to create ketones and converts from burning sugars to burning fats for fuel.
- Weight-loss (fat not lean muscle mass)
- Natural detox
- Discarding old damaged cells, replacing them with young healthy cells.
- Digestive system rests, allowing your body to focus on healing
- Stem cell production from day 3 – 5
Focusing on the benefits of extended fasts is one way to strengthen your will-power. Instead of thinking about what you would like to eat, realize that you are having a full-meal of your own body fat. Furthermore, remember that each time you look in the mirror, you will look younger and healthier than the time before.
Additional Challenges of Extended Fasts
I have listed some of the challenges of fasting so that if you are interested in doing one yourself, you can go into it with open eyes.
In addition to the constant hunger, low energy and mental blocks, extended fasts have other challenges. Eating is an enjoyable experience. Therefore, we eat for many reasons other than nutrition. Extended fasts require you to be able to:
- Avoid the social settings surrounding food ie. restaurants and other social gatherings
- Refrain from emotional eating
- Ignore the urge to satisfy the taste buds
- Resist the urge to chew.
- Curb the urge to swallow. Only when you have fasted for extended periods of time do you truly appreciate the pleasure of tasting, chewing and swallowing your food.
While extended fasts are inherently challenging, in my opinion the benefits out-way the challenges. If you feel up to it and want to try an extended fast, please share your experience. Keto Mamas will support you along the way.
If you are looking for more information on extended fasts see Fasting & Ketosis, “Fasting for Longevity, 9 questions for Dr. Valter D. Longo“, “Fasting: A trending food idea and new frontier in longevity science” by Dr. Longo and “The Complete Guide to Fasting“ by Dr. Jason Fung, MD