A window into my first extended water fast.
On the 10th of February of this year, I endeavoured on a 25-day all-water fast. For so long I have wanted to write about my experience, but there’s just so much to say on the topic, I didn’t know where to start.
Two months later and I am finally getting my thoughts down. I hope that through sharing my story, you might learn something new and be inspired to live a healthful life.
* Please note that I do not in any way advise for anyone to perform an extended fast unsupervised.
This is merely my own personal account. If you want to learn more about my experience and/or fasting, you can contact me or refer to the links at the end of this post.
What is fasting?
The abstinence from all or some kinds of food and drink
Water / Water-Only Fasting
Maintains a zero caloric intake, which means water only, nothing added to it.
Why did I water fast?
There are many different types of fasting, from dry to liquid fasting, or from juice fasting to rice fasting (interesting, I know. Something I came across during my 25-day journey). Water fasting is the simplest form of fasting that delivers the greatest level of therapeutic benefit in a short period of time.
As such, I chose to do on a water-only fast to experience the immense benefits of fasting on the physical, mental and spiritual levels. In summary, and I will expand on these later:
- Physical healing and rejuvenation
- Mental clarity and focus
- Spiritual peace and direction
How did I fast?
Before embarking on this journey, I did extensive research (i.e. reading texts and watching lectures online). After everything I had learned about extended water fasting, I waited earnestly for the next opportunity to do one myself. I started to prepare mentally and physically by practicing Intermittent Fasting (IF) over the course of a few months, a topic I will save for another post, and spiritually through prayer.
Finally, the occasion presented itself upon my return to the Philippines, being a fresh graduate from university and virtually unemployed, it was the perfect time to set 4 weeks aside to fast. I spent a total of 25 days on water and dedicated 7 days to get back into eating (the re-feeding process).
Being the inquisitive little scientist I am / to ensure my safety during this process, I took blood tests before and after my fast. During my fast, I took my blood pressure, weighed and measured myself, took progress shots and video logged daily. I tracked how I was feeling and journaled often. I was monitored by my loving parents and received support from incredible friends. In this regard, I didn’t tell many people about my fast until the very end, but to those who knew, I promised to send them Snapchats frequently to ensure them I was doing okay. I consulted books and resources online (I have included the links to these at the end of this post where you can check them out) and even stumbled upon a water-fasting support group on Facebook, which was a great opportunity to connect with both experienced and novice fasters, all passionate about health and healing. With the immense support I received from the people in my life, my main source of encouragement, strength and peace came from reading scripture in the Bible through daily meditations, multiple times a day.
As a vegan, I maintained my plant-based, whole food diet. The week before starting my fast, I ate more raw fruits and vegetables (i.e. less cooked meals) and slowly reduced the size and frequency of my meals as the day drew closer.
My experience during the fast (abridged)
I had an abundance of energy due to full glycogen stores (thank you Philippines for your fine mangoes) and remained active during the day, mainly cleaning out my room and closet while listening to Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing audiobook among other podcasts and talks online.
Started to feel the initial effects of ketosis (when the body uses fat, instead of glucose, as its primary fuel). Still had lots of energy. No physical signs of hunger. Spent most the day on my laptop reading.
I’d wake up feeling weak, but good. Blood pressure is low(er). Long, great quality sleeps (~8-10 hours). Dreams are vivid. Lower energy, feeling mellow and chill. Desire to lie down all day, not wanting to look at a screen. Feeling thoughtful and reflective. Reading and journaling more. No longer skipping up steps; walking is tiring, sitting / lying down is fine. Still no hunger. Crazy breakout on my back on day 7 (detox?).
Eyes appear brighter. Skin clearing. Feeling energised. Spent lots of time outdoors getting fresh air and sunshine. Dreams more vivid – e.g. buying groceries, looking at food but never actually eating it, haha. Vitals good, weight decreasing at a steady rate. Muscles sore (especially arms) due to daily use (e.g. holding books, using my phone).
Physically weak but very mentally clear. Dreams are still vivid. Feeling positive. Days feel slower. Still no hunger but desire to get back into the social world is strong.
Breaking the fast
What many people do not realise is the importance of breaking an extended fast. Once the body realises it isn’t getting any food, the digestive system goes to sleep. During this time, bacteria in the gut diminishes significantly. As such, food must be introduced in a slow and gentle manner to wake the system up and allow for digestive enzymes to repopulate.
I broke my fast on watermelon, and spent my first week eating very small, frequent meals of high-water content fruits that were hydrating and easily digestible. I used Loren Lockman’s plan as a guide:
- Day 1: 2 ozs of watermelon or papaya every two hours from 10 am to 6pm. Choose one fruit for the whole day.
- Day 2: 4 ozs of watermelon every 2.5 hours from 9am to 7pm.
- Day 3: Depending on how you did on day 2, between 6 and 8 ozs of watermelon, papaya, cantaloupe, or other melon every 3 hours from 9 to 6.
- Days 4-7: Increase quantity by about 4 ozs or so each day, eating 4 times between 9 and 6 (every 3 hours.) You can add one acid meal per day starting day 4 if you feel up to it. (Celes: Acid meal means food that are acidic in nature, including meat, diary, french fries, highly acidic fruits, etc. Refer to this table on heartburn food.)
- Day 8 and beyond: Whole, ripe organic fruits and simple green salads. Nothing dehydrated, very little fat.
My recovery was incredibly quick. The smallest piece of watermelon had me bouncing off the walls, and because I had so much energy, I slowly got back into exercise by Day 2. I was careful about my re-feeding process and mindful when eating. I’m thankful for my smooth and enjoyable transition to eating solid food again. PS. There is nothing like your first bite of solid food after tasting nothing but water for 25 days!
(Some of the) Benefits I Experienced:
- Noticeably clearer and smoother skin
- Brighter eyes
- Loss in fat
- Incredible digestion
- Increased energy
- Accelerated detoxification
- Sensitivity to ‘true hunger’
- New sense of peace
- Increased mental clarity
- Strengthened willpower
Answers to Common Questions I Received:
Weren’t you hungry?
It may be hard to believe, but no. After a few days, I lost any physical sensation of hunger. By this time, I had no problem talking about food, looking at food, watching the cooking channel or having people eat around me. The desire for food, however, was still there. There were many nights that I dreamed about food, mainly fruit.
Did you exercise during your fast?
Not at all – once my body kicked into ketosis, I had very limited energy to do basic tasks from sitting up in bed to walking down the stairs. The most exercise I got was from walking up and down the stairs of my house, which I only did a maximum of 2 or 3 times because it was so taxing on my body.
How did you spend your day?
I was essentially lying down all day except for when I’d get up for water or to go to the bathroom. I spent my time reading, writing and journaling (when I had the energy), and admittedly scrolling through vegan foodie pages on Instagram. I made it a habit to watch the sunset at the end of every day and was up early enough most days to catch the sunrise. I really looked forward to this.
Did you lose a lot of weight during the fast?
I lost 20 lbs (over 9 kg) in 25 days. I lost more fat than muscle, and by the end of my fast I felt lighter and much healthier.
Any form or length of time spent fasting is indeed a challenging and gratifying feat. Not eating or drinking anything other than water for 25 days was only part of the process. What fasting provided me was the space and opportunity to heal, reflect, put into place new habits and set goals. Not only did it allow me to cleanse physically, but mentally and spiritually as well; being renewed and rejuvenated from the inside out. I’m already looking forward to my next fasting endeavour. It was honestly some of the best 25 days of my life so far.
Please feel free to comment below or send me an e-mail with any questions you might have, I would more than happy to answer them ☺
Update: Here’s the follow-up to my fast.
- Web | Articles:
- Documentary: Eat, Fast, Live Longer
- TED Talks:
- Fasting: An Ancient Practice for Modern Problems by Dr Alan Goldhamer
- The Benefits of Fasting… (long enough and properly) by Loren Lockman
- Fasting Benefits | Fasting Tips | How To Fast by Tyler Tolman
- Fasting by Dr Doug Graham
- Fasting for Health and Recovery by Dr Alec Burton
- Natural Hygiene – What, When & Why to Eat, & How to Eat by Dr Herbert M. Shelton
- Spiritual Keys to Fasting by Jentezen Franklin
- Don Tolman & the ancient art of Fasting with Don Tolman
- Personal Experiences:
- WATER FAST DAY 1 at TRUE NORTH |1MINaDAY on YouTube by Sean Lee (Minimal Pro)