How to Do a 3-7 Day Water Fast
Ah, January. Since actually experiencing follow-through on a very disciplined 21-day routine back in January 2016, and all the benefits that came with it, I have come to love this re-set season. It is good to have a fresh start, a renewed outlook, and a boost to your vision and purpose each year.
I'm not talking about making resolutions. I am however, talking about taking time in January to discipline yourself. Spiritual, physical, and mental discipline; fasting is often the way to accomplish all three. However, most people don't realize what fasting really means.
What is a fast?
- Fasting is not eating any calories, and just consuming water (Wet fast) or no water (Dry fast).
- Consuming calories of any nature, including juicing only, even if you are restricting your caloric intake, is considered a detox.
True fasting (wet or dry) must be done under the supervision of a physician, with blood tests & physical exam monitoring before, during, and after the fast. Any water fast 7+ days must be done in an in-patient setting.
Patients on medications or diagnosed with disease, should consult a physician prior to fasting to adjust medication levels depending on the length of the fast. No supplements or teas should be used with a water fast. Fasting doesn't start until ketosis is induces which is after 48 hours for women and 72 hours for men (3 days).
What are the benefits of fasting?
- increase the elimination of waste and enhance the healing process
- used in treatment protocols to help overcome obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, allergies, psoriasis, leg ulcers, irritable bowel, deranged/impaired appetite, asthma, depression, SLE/lupus, diabetes, hypertension, chronic pain and fibroids.
Some things to consider:
You must slow down when doing a fast, to adjust to the decrease in energy production.
Your bowel movements will also go, after the first 3 days. Urine output will become extremely acidic from the breakdown of fat into ketones (ketosis).
Fasting is contraindicated when...
- patients are on poly-pharmacy, certain medical conditions, hormone dysregulation, during a women’s period, pregnancy or breast-feeding.
Water fasting provides the ultimate rest and repair of the gastrointestinal tract, the immune system and the brain and resets these systems.
A medically supervised fast includes a visit with your physician each day, to monitor vitals. Patients should drink 2L of water each day, to keep blood pressure up and avoiding fainting or dizziness. Preparing your body for a water fast is key to avoiding complications.
How to Do a 3-day Water Fast:
Step 1. Prepare in advance, 8 days is recommended
How To Prepare for a Water or Juice Fast
Prep Days 1-3: Avoid meat, fish, fowl, eggs, dairy, grains, legumes, salt and spices. Focus on fruits and vegetables, in soups, smoothies, broths, stews; cooking them is okay.
Prep Days 4-6: As above, except all foods are eaten raw.
Prep Days 7-8: Raw fruit and vegetable juices only.
I have my patients do colon hydrotherapy the day before the fast, to help eliminate all waste.
- Water enemas, are also an option, to eliminate waste, but should be done at a medical facility.
- Do buy and use a dry skin brush, and hot-water bottle or heating pad, during the fast, as it helps with body aches and moving lymph.
- Your energy will be drained from the lack of food. Clear your schedule during the fast, and commit to as little as possible, avoiding exercise and social outings, other than walking.
Step 2. Day 1-3, 4-7:
Energy Your job is to rest completely, relax, avoid work, social outings, and of course exercise. Prayer, meditation and contemplation is the main focus. Water fasting is an intense detox, and chances are you're going to feel symptoms days 1-3 of headaches, nausea, and dizziness. Your blood pressure will be lower, so exercise is contraindicated. Experienced fasters can maintain their job while fasting, for beginners, tasks like taking care of your family will be hard days 1-3, but will become easier as the days go on. I recommend everyone take time off work during a water fast. You will likely have the least amount of energy on days 1-3, but it will pick up as your body moves into ketosis.
Sleeping and Waking: During a fast, people often sleep less at night because there isn't any food to be broken down. However, during the day people also nap more, to get enough energy to make it through.
Meditation and Prayer: Fasting will bring to your attention all the emotions and thoughts you so often distract yourself from processing. Spending time journalling, writing them down, processing them through prayer and meditation, can help you overcome obstacles in your life and give you greater clarity. Use this time to become good at overcoming.
Nature : most of us do this fast in January, and live in a cold climate. If possible, spend time outs doors, as the dynamics of nature is calming to our soul and provides the best backdrop to think, contemplate and pray. If you live in a warmer climate, you're in luck. Go out into nature and get on the ground as much as possible. This practice of grounding, goes beyond the magnetic force that pulls our atoms in-line with the gravitational force on the earth. It helps calm us, centre us and physically helps us achieve a stable foundation.
Dry Skin Brushing is gentle and gets your lymph flowing, which is the arterial pathway for toxins to become eliminated. All byproducts of our metabolism get pushed into the lymph and travel through the heart, into the blood, to organs of elimination. Because lymph only moves through muscular tone, we can support its movement, especially against gravity, by dry skin brushing. Learn more about it from this post I wrote.
Step. 3 Reintroduction
After The Water Fast
Your digestive system will have not been producing its strong, digestive acids & enzymes, so will be delicate. Start with small portions. Avoid meat, saturated oils and fatty foods for a few days, as they require your body to release a strong acid, bile, to be broken down, which can cause nausea and indigestion after having not been produced for a few days. Even garlic and onion can be too corrosive for your gut, and should be avoided for the first few days until you'r eating more solid foods.
Avoid using salt at first. Watch how your taste sensation has been heightened.
Even after a short fast like this, go slow at re-introducing foods, and use this opportunity to re-introduce foods to test your body for food sensitivities. Keep a journal of symptoms you experience when re-introducing foods, to track what foods you may be reacting to.
Re-Introduce Foods in this Order:
- fruit and vegetable juices and broths (use this immune boosting bone broth to break your fast)
- raw fruits
- yogurt (or other living, cultured milk products), unsweetened
- lettuces and spinach (can use plain yogurt as a dressing and top with fresh fruit)
- cooked vegetables and vegetable soups
- raw vegetables
- well cooked grains and beans
- nuts and eggs
- milk products (non-cultured)
- meats and fish
When it comes to re-introduction, we are trying to achieve the following:
- Frequent meals --> toward less frequent meals
- Small meals --> toward larger meals
- Easy to digest --> toward harder, requiring more enzymes, to digest
- Less variety --> toward more variety
People all over the world do short-duration water fasts unsupervised, however, it is a tremendous support and safety precaution to work with your naturopathic doctor prior to and during any water fast. Your body will thank you,