My adventure of a 4-day water fast.
Why do a water fast?
Clinical depuration (aka detoxing or cleansing) is a way to enhance your body's natural reduction of toxins by increasing your detoxification, excretion, and elimination pathways. Toxin's are stored in adipose tissue (fat) and during a fast your body promotes the breakdown of adipose tissue for energy, therefore releasing toxins. This is also seen during calorie restriction, exercise, and therapeutic heat (sauna). During fasting, the body is forced to use altered pathways to mobilize energy to keep functioning. To do this, different cells are exercised, while others are rested (tissue rehabilitation). This is a simplification of what detoxing and cleansing do.
Benefits of water fasting
- Decrease in overall inflammation of the body. Inflammation could have been to food sensitivities (one's you may not know about!), toxin overload, blocked detoxification pathways, and much more.
- Weight loss. Although weight loss on a 4 day water fast will mostly like be due to inflammatory water weight and will not stay off.
- Reduction in blood glucose. This occurs in most patients, even with short term fasting.
- Awareness. You will become aware of food craving triggers and can work on these with future dieting- this was worth the fast in itself. You also may determine you have a food sensitivity preventing you from being healthy.
- Long term water fasting can aid in chronic disease. Fasting for over 3 days should be monitored by a physician. Research has shown improvements in cardiovascular disease, diabetes, immune disorders, obesity, epilepsy, appendicitis, pancreatitis, asthma, IBS, depression, and more.
The breakdown of my experience
- The details:
- I fasted 7 pm Thursday until 7am Tuesday morning. Which is approximately 108 hours.
- I did it with a friend in order to be held accountable.
- I didn't cheat. Not even once!
- I drank a typical amount of water for me (80 ounces/day), got 8-10 hours of sleep per night, and made time for relaxation.
- I continued my daily life- classes for school, working in a clinic, resting, exercise, hanging out with friends, etc.
- I did an elimination diet after the 4 day water fast to determine food sensitivities.
- How I felt:
- I had an increase in energy majority of the days.
- My stomach didn't gurgle or growl, but I did have tight muscles the first 2 days.
- I didn't get "hangry" or crabby.
- I felt healthy. Truly healthy.
- My take away:
- I noticed specific triggers for eating that blew my mind. For example, when I sat down at my computer desk, I immediately had an urge to snack. It was a completely subconscious urge. And the coffee I felt I needed in the morning, was more about the hot mug rather than the caffeine.
- When you avoid the foods causing you systemic inflammation, you feel better. Small unknown reactions go unnoticed, that is, until you don't have them anymore. For instance, I didn't know I felt fatigue, mental fogginess, and heaviness, until my energy increased, my mind was clear, and I felt free. I felt healthy.
- Would I do it again?
- Yes. And I have. I try and do a 4 day water fast twice a year, usually during a season change.
Day 1: I was surprised my stomach didn’t growl as much as I thought it would have over the day. I don’t know if it was because of excitement to try this diet or if my mind was prepared for the fast. It was pretty chilly outside, and I felt cold most of the day. Around 3pm, I started getting a very minor headache, stiff upper neck muscles, and felt a little warm. I sat in the sauna for 30min, took a cool shower to rinse off, then went home. When I sat at my computer desk, I was surprised to immediately think about eating (as lately I have been eating here due to midterms and studying). I didn’t have any cravings for foods, but definitely seeing pictures or other people eating brought my attention back to fasting and being hungry. I didn’t lack to much energy, but am looking forward to a relaxing night in.
Day 2: I definitely started feeling a little different. My upper neck was really tight and felt like it needed to be adjusted. My body felt warm, like I had a fever, but when I took my temp it was normal. I had some sensation of feeling like I had tunnel vision, and was definitely slower at talking and coming up with words or sentences. I spend the whole day around friend with food, and it was surprisingly easy to avoid eating. Definitely was helpful being accountable to a friend, and knowing that she was going through it too. I have had no weight loss yet, but I am not using a scale.
Day 3: Today was a Sunday, so I spent the day catching up on movies and tv shows in bed. I decided to go sauna today, since I didn’t yesterday. I spent 35 min in the sauna and then took a cold shower to add in some hydrotherapy. I got so dizzy and thought I was going to pass out. I had to sit down for a few moments, drink some water from the faucet, and just move slow. I should have limited my time in the sauna and drank water while sitting in there. Wont make that mistake again! I went grocery shopping after to PCC to get a bunch of vegetables to start my elimination diet. Shopping wasn’t to bad at all. Avoiding food has actually been easy. I still contribute that to having a friend doing the fast with me and not wanting to let her down! I have a surprising amount of energy, and my body feels healthy. I have noticed some weight loss, mostly in my lower abdomen. Nothing I would think anyone else would notice. I also spent a lot of time planning what I want to eat for the week. This is making really excited to eat again, probably not something I should think about!
Day 4: After spending the whole day in bed yesterday, my back is pretty sore. I feel like I need some physical activity, but don’t want to push it too much. I was able to concentrate in class pretty well. In my last class, everyone was eating and I started to crave certain foods (especially a Mexican dish, crema de pollo!). All I could think about was what I am going to eat tomorrow! I have a lot of energy, feel good, and am noticing which emotions are tied to eating. I always knew eating was linked to emotions and comfort, but experiencing it, and what this meant to me, was worth the fast!