Let’s get straight to it. I recently did a 14-day water fast. I decided to document thoroughly so you’ll be able to see the weight loss before and after photos for days 3, 5, 7, 10 & 14.
Here are the results jumping straight from the time I started to the time I ended – intrigued? I documented everything in great detail.
My experience, journaled
Being someone who frequently fasts, I don’t get some of the side effects that most people start. It is great, trust me. I did have the symptoms when I initially started. It means that if you’re starting, you’re probably bound to feel sluggish and hungry. You’ll also feel cold. You may also experience other symptoms as your body isn’t fat-adapted. Fasting may be easier for you if you’re used to a keto diet.
According to Healthline, it takes 4 to 12 months on a keto diet to become fat-adapted. It will happen quicker if you’re fasting, as you’re not triggering any insulin response. Your body isn’t used to using fat for fuel instead of the usual glycogen. Converting over to that fuel source when you’ve been consuming excess carbs your entire life will take time.
On a different note, becoming fat adapted has led me to have fewer hunger cravings. I used to crave sugar like it was a class A substance, which it honestly should be classified as. I don’t crave it anymore.
Also, scroll down further to see some of the results pictures from various times throughout the fast. I didn’t notoriously take photos quite as notoriously as I would have wanted but did still manage on several occasions. This is not to be confused with people that do a 3 or 30-day egg fast. I only consumed coffee, water, and electrolytes. I’d have one sparkling water occasionally.
Day 0 (24 Hours)
This was when I started my fast. My dinner was at 8 pm that night. I decided to embark on what would be my longest fast so far, and probably ever. I will likely do an extended one every year and some shorter ones sprinkled out throughout the year. Still, I don’t believe many additional benefits go beyond 15 or so days. I have heard people say they start experiencing changes on day 10. It was why my initial goal was to do 14. I put on enough weight to sustain it for so long. I’ve also found it vastly easier to start a fast after eating dinner rather than eating breakfast in the morning and then fasting. At that point, I will surely experience hunger later on. Either way, I started at 187.4 lbs at 8 pm. That was with lots of food, water, and carbs in my system.
Honestly, I breezed through it. Having gone through this as many times as I have, I didn’t feel any of the symptoms I felt when I just started. When I just started fasting, day 1 felt like D-Day. I was probably ready to rip someone’s head off had they cut in line. Yup, I was majorly irritable the first time. This time, nothing. During my first fast, I sat underneath 2 blankets with a sweater and pants at 72 degrees and was freezing like crazy. I didn’t experience any of that this time around and wore my usual shorts outside in 45-50 degree weather. By 8 pm, my weight was down to 182.2. I had dropped more than 5 pounds in fat, water, and food weight mixture. Pretty crazy to think about.
Day 2 (48 Hours)
Day 2 was easy this time around. I cannot complain, and I didn’t feel any negative side effects. During earlier fasts, this has been when a lot of the negative side effects have started subsiding. It was when I started noticing major improvements in my mental clarity. It is one of the fascinating things you’ll experience if you try it yourself. You may still be thinking about food (a lot). I find my mind working at 130% when I am not eating food for extended periods. At 8 pm, my weight was down to 179.6.
Given that nearly a 3 lbs drop from 24 hours earlier, my body was still shedding water and carb weight. I don’t have a 10k calorie metabolism per day. That’s for sure.
Also, this was the day when I started getting bad breath from fasting. It is a common occurrence. Supposedly, doing intermittent fasting or following a keto diet can give you bad breath because you increase ketone production. It is a gaseous bodily compound helping you burn fat. Yes, it’s nasty. You’ll get a white coating on your tongue. If you have any self-respect, you’ll buy a tongue scraper from and use it as if your life depended on it.
It will do wonders, girlfriend-confirmed.
I got this one, and it has made me feel like a decent human being again. I was not walking around with a breath that could kill an elephant. For $10, it’s worth it. Get the hint?
3 (72 Hours) Day Water Fast Weight Loss Results (before & after pictures included)
I am an avid consumer of coffee, black coffee, or caffeine pills, which I still do throughout the fast. In the same way, you might experience a lower tolerance for alcohol if you haven’t had any for a long time. You have an elevated sensitivity to coffee when not eating. Say that the food is absorbing some of the effects, or whatever you may think is going on. My tolerance was affected. I know that I get jitters when I drink too much coffee, but it usually won’t be too bad when eating. On day 3 – oh boy, did I have too much coffee. It was really bad and has taught me a lesson. It was up to a point where I struggled to focus. That amount of coffee shall surely not be repeated during a fast. I didn’t even think it was more than I would usually drink. At 8 pm, my weight was down to 177.6 lbs, meaning the result of my 3-day water fast was a weight loss of almost 10 pounds.
While the rate of weight loss was surely slowing down, it was still too high to believe that it was only fat being lost. I was surprised I’d managed to lose 10 pounds in 3 days, although a lot would come back if I started eating. Still crazy.
Day 4 was weird, at least considering that I have fasted on many occasions before. It was probably not unexpected. Up until this point, I had not consumed any electrolytes. I half wanted to see how long I could go before starting to feel bad from probably a lack of electrolytes, and day 4 was the time. I felt quite nauseous and attributed it to a lack of electrolytes. Is that sure why I felt like that? Who knows? I didn’t intend on breaking my fast this early, knowing that I had put on a significant amount of weight to do this project. I had previously breezed through this time during different fasts. However, I did consume electrolytes. I have a supplement that I take, which ensures that I get the right proportions. It makes life easier. The nausea went somewhat over time, although it never really disappeared. 8 pm came around, and my weight was 175.5 lbs. I was still dropping those pounds!
Day 5 (before & after pictures as well)
Day 5 came around and brought a lot less nausea than the previous day, although there was still a little bit. I doubled my electrolyte intake, although there was sporadic nausea. 8 pm, and the weight was 174.7 lbs. My weight loss rate was dropping and nearing a state where it was more or less just fat being burned. Assuming a pound of fat equals 3,500 calories, a 0.8-pound weight loss would be the equivalent of 2800 calories being lost. Probably not far from my metabolic rate.
Day 6 came around, and there was no nausea left at all. However, I managed to get a significant amount of pain in my ear later. I feel like I hit it or something less than intelligent and went to bed that night sleeping horribly because of the pain. Because of my Viking descent, I did not take any painkillers. At 8 pm, the scale reported me weighing in at 172.6 lbs. I was back on track to losing more weight than my metabolism would allow. I’m not quite sure I had the electrolytes I should have had. Day 6 marked the time I had managed to lose 15 pounds with a rounding error. It was one where I felt rather cold, especially hands and feet.
Day 7 (with before & after results pictures)
The good news about day 7 was that a lot of the pain in my ear had gone away. I wasn’t feeling nearly as cold anymore either. The less-than-great news was that I did not drink enough water. I didn’t feel bad. I just didn’t feel great. Still, having easily gotten through this time on a previous fast. I didn’t see it as a major sign of concern.
The crazy thing was that my weight came in at 167 lbs. Yes, I had officially lost 20 pounds in a week. Crazy. I am not going to lie. The result kind of freaked me out, and I made sure to increase my water intake and electrolyte intake. For all those people out there, it shows that you can lose a lot more than both 5 and 10 pounds in a week. You don’t need 2 weeks or a month to achieve those results if you set your mind to it. The idea of losing 2 pounds a week is conservative if you go for a more significant measure like water fasting.
Day 8 was massively different from the night before. I woke up feeling like the king of the universe. It was great. Mental clarity and all that other good stuff. Nothing bad to say about that day. The pain in my ear was gone as well, which was another great thing. I made sure to get enough water and electrolytes as well. 8 pm came around, and my weight was 168.6 lbs. I wasn’t demotivated because the scale had gone the other way, as I hadn’t felt entirely great the day prior. It was probably a mixture of dehydration and a deficiency of electrolytes. As long as my mood was great and I felt great, I was happy with that number. Day 8 of my previous fast was when I started feeling a little bit too iffy. Day 9 of my previous fast was when I decided to call it quits, given how I felt. It was despite having aimed for 10. Oh well, while I didn’t reach my goal that time around. It gave me the necessary knowledge to do this longer, successful project.
I woke up feeling great. The pain in the ear was completely gone, which I didn’t mind. Day 9 showed that I had managed to previously keep up with my water intake, which was great. The 8 pm weighed substantially lower than the day before, coming in at 166 lbs. Back to drinking more water. Admittedly, my hands and feet were pretty cold. I did keep up my electrolyte intake and felt great from the moment I woke up to the moment I went to bed. It also marked an important milestone as it was now officially the longest fast I had ever done.
Exciting. I was now wandering off into new pastures. I still felt great, although I decided to increase my electrolyte and water intake once again.
Day 10 (with before and after pictures)
I woke up feeling alright, not great. I could quickly see that I was losing steam rapidly when I was doing my workout. That is what happens when you don’t eat for 10 days. My strength wasn’t impressive. However, it’s cool to see that I can now do significantly more pullups than I could do when I started because of my lighter frame. Lightening the load by more than 20 pounds makes pull-ups easier. Who would have figured?
At 8 pm, the scale showed 164.5 pounds. There are reports of people managing to lose 20 pounds in 3 weeks. The reality is that you can do it in a lot less time. In my case, my results were that I managed to achieve a weight loss of 22 pounds during my first 10 days of the water fast. It was without having any significant negative experiences. Despite hiccups, I would never describe my experience as being miserable. I also never experienced any form of euphoria throughout, although I think my mood was elevated most of the time.
It was great to see that it’s not impossible to lose 20 pounds in 10 days, although a lot of the weight loss would probably come back as I started eating again. If it had been purely fat, 20 pounds would equal 70,000 calories lost or a daily caloric deficit of 7,000 calories. That’s probably not too realistic.
I woke up a bit dehydrated. The mood was good. I got a pretty good workout in, but nothing would break any world records. I was still happy with where I was anyway. I felt nice and warm, both hands and feet. When 8 pm came around, the scale showed 166 pounds. It clearly showed I was pretty dehydrated the night before. No wonder I was feeling a little bit off.
Despite really having felt like quitting the night before, I woke up in the morning with rejuvenated energy towards the project and continued without any trouble.
I woke up with a morning weight of 163 pounds. However, I was back up to 164.5 by 8 pm. I felt slightly more lightheaded, but I felt great besides that. Both my hands and feet were still warm. It seemed pretty clear that my weight was getting to a point where the weight loss was rapidly declining. It was most likely because I had lost excess water and carb weight. Was I turning into a superhuman yet?
There was a little bit of a headache in the morning and some clear dehydration. Both of those went away when I got some water in my system. By the time I stepped on the scale in the morning, it was saying 163.4. I was probably mainly dehydrated the night before. I got a phenomenal workout and felt great throughout. Honestly, there was barely any lightheadedness. At this point, I think I could go for another 7-8 days and potentially make it 21. It was really what was my stretch goal. However, sudden changes to my social schedule meant I chose to break my fast on day 14.
During previous experiences of not eating for extended periods, I’ve started feeling a bit iffy a day or so before the goal I had set for the duration of my fast. My 10 day fast started feeling iffy on day 8 and especially 9, so I previously chose to break it then. I never really managed to get to that point this time, perhaps because I mainly had a stretch goal and never got close to it. It was probably more psychological than anything or an electrolyte deficiency. Who knows.
How to break your 14 days fast – and how I did it
I hadn’t planned to break it and start eating again, but life called for me to do so anyway. The general recommendation is to break such a long one with bone broth and other small meals and gradually increase your food intake. Being the general savage I am and have a serious passion for pizza has always been my go-to food.
Has my stomach felt funny after breaking a fast, perhaps because I chose to feed it such a divine mixture of carbs and fat, perfected by the Italians? Maybe. Have I always enjoyed that first bite of pizza like I was a person finding water after being stranded in the desert for a week without it? Yes.
While I realize it may be living life on the edge, is a life living in fear worth it? Don’t follow my example.
Overall, I was very happy with both the results. I was happy with the pictures I managed to take and how I only seemed to have relatively minor struggles along the way. Although I broke the fast a couple of hours before I had officially gone 14 days, it was only a matter of a couple of hours. After consuming all the pizza any human could consume in one sitting, I was already looking forward to the breakfast burritos I had planned for the following morning.
Check out these before and after pictures of my 14-day water fast.
While no longer on a fast, I just wanted to show how my weight rebounded after starting to eat again. I can report that 7 days after ending my fast, my weight was now up significantly. It still means I lost more than 10 pounds in 20 days.
Trust me. Even if I might not have felt hungry throughout, it doesn’t mean that I wasn’t thinking about food. I figured out how to make bone broth and make hummus on this fast. While I did manage a trip to the grocery store, I think it was such a trip that previously triggered me to end a previous fast. If you’re fasting, you will still want to stay away from other people eating and grocery stores as much as possible. It’s especially if you’re new to it.
While I may not have done a 28 or 40-day water fast, I am very happy with the results. I liked the mental clarity and everything else I experienced. I stopped when I felt it was time to stop and never felt I was putting my body in a state that wasn’t safe. I could preferably have gone without the crazy amounts of coffee I had on day 4, which was rather uncomfortable. It was way more uncomfortable than any food cravings I’ve ever had. It showed that losing weight in a week or 2 weeks is quite possible.
What you can achieve when you set your mind to it for 30 days or even 3 months is wild. It doesn’t matter whether your goal is to lose 50 pounds or some other number. I had previously tracked my weight on my longest previous one to know how much weight I wanted to be at before I started. I wanted to be sure I could do a 14 day fast without adverse consequences. I knew that I probably needed to have 30 pounds that I would be willing to lose. I started feeling bad around a bodyweight of 157 lbs previously if I remember correctly. That was my benchmark – 157 plus 30 pounds to lose. I was considering having 40 pounds that I would be ready to lose. I also knew that I probably didn’t want to go further than a 14 day fast.
The most dramatic results in the mirror come towards the lower parts of your weight. It’s especially that stubborn back fat, where I carry most of my fat. I knew what weight I wanted to end up at. I thought 30 was a good number. I did go to the gym and did heavy lifting throughout. It’s important to note that I didn’t do any cardio sessions to burn additional calories. I consider this weight loss more or less without exercise, showing just the results that can be achieved if you set your mind to it.
Most of the experiences I have read online will say you reach a stage where your body starts giving clear indications that you need to break your fast. However, I associate most of my inconsistencies with not getting enough electrolytes. I saw positive improvements in the days following me, feeling questionable when I increased electrolytes.
On the topic asked by many of what happens if you don’t eat for 2 days or even a week, at least now you have a fairly detailed report of my experience.
I have now realized that this post has turned into a lengthy one. I have images that are more specific to how my face transformed throughout this project and a picture of a potential double chin. Admittedly, that wasn’t really where my main concern was. Storing most of the fat on my lower back is my main concern. Suppose you are interested in trying out an extended fast yourself. I suggest you read this article I wrote on the topic.
Now on to some of the technical parts of the topic, the scientific things your body goes through. I’ll also talk about what you need to be aware of. Yes, it’s going to be a long read. I’ve done my best to back everything up with scientific studies and references to squander any myths about water fasting. It assumes it’s done correctly, and you don’t have a specific reason not to do it. It can be done safely, with major benefits.
What is water fasting?
Simply put, water fasting is a type wherein you will only consume water. You’re bringing your calorie intake to zero. Other people mistake water fasting with broth and juice detox. It still entails consuming calories because broth and juice contain calories or sugars. True water fast does not involve consuming any calories.
Does it work?
Like you, I’ve had my own few shares of doubts about fasting. I’ve always wondered if not consuming any calories would benefit our bodies and whether it would work. Like any sensible being, I did my research. I read blogs about various experiences of different types. I consulted my doctor about the subject first before trying it out.
It has been around for centuries, practiced by humans since pre-history. This fact should tell you that it does work. Much research has been centered on how it works and its benefits. A lot of people practices it for other means besides achieving a caloric deficit to lose weight, such as:
- preparation for medical procedures;
- detox or toxin cleanse and body regeneration;
- religious and spiritual practices; and
- therapeutic intervention to combat or lower the risk of diseases.
In my case, I did it to shed off fat and lower my overall weight safely and effectively. It was also done to reap the numerous health benefits that it offers.
Still not convinced? Then let me give you a quick list of success and experience stories that inspired me to try it for myself:
- In this blog post, the author did a 10-day water fast. It resulted in the following:
- improved digestion
- lowered blood pressure
- effective detoxing
- loss of 15 pounds of body weight
Upon experiencing these health benefits, the author committed to repeating the success once to twice every year.
- These testimonials of patients from a clinic in Hawaii discuss the health benefits of water fasting and its spiritual and mental benefits. Here are some snippets of these wonderful success stories:
- Spiritual & Mental – Sarita did a 21-day fast. It was split into equal parts of 7 days doing green juice, water fasting, and juice only. She felt transformed after her meditation and had a better relationship with food. She also felt a deeper sense of gratitude for what she had afterward.
- Health – Ari did a 10-day fast to get back in the normal weight range treat her chronic back pain. It helped her get her energy back up. Afterward, she lost 10 pounds and kept her weight off. She got rid of both back pain and body odor and improved her vision. By the end of it, she felt more energized compared to before.
Do you want to lose weight?
You need to achieve a caloric deficit by reducing your calorie intake or upping your energy expenditure to burn fat deposits. The former is a more efficient way to achieve a caloric deficit.
Stored fat is the body’s Plan B for energy resources, not Plan A. Your body will use up external sources of glucose first, such as the calories from the food you eat. The only time our body burns fat is when there is no glucose left to be used. It is why you need to have a caloric deficit. If there are calories readily available for your body to use, the fat loss won’t happen.
So, how does it help?
When you don’t eat, you’re limiting your body’s calorie intake. There are numerous types based on the meal schedule. Short-term, intermittent fasting (IF), alternate day (ADF), and prolonged. It can also be based on the type of food or fluids you consume, like broth or juice. The number of calories you consume will differ depending on what type you’re doing.
For water fasting, you won’t be consuming any calories at all. By doing so, your body will go into ketosis right away. Wherein your body burns fat reserves as a source of energy. This is a guaranteed way to burn fat to lose weight efficiently!
As I’ve mentioned, losing weight is just one of the many benefits. Let me give you various research that has shown the benefits throughout the years:
What happens when you don’t eat for a day or 5 days? Could it even be a week?
The short answer is that when you don’t eat for 1 day or even a week, your body starts producing ketones. It makes it better able to use fat for fuel instead of the usual glycogen. It means you will be burning fat more rapidly than you otherwise would be. Not eating for an extended period is the easiest and quickest way to lose a significant amount of body fat. We’ll go through some of the more intricate details of a prolonged fast under the extended benefits section.
Benefits of water fast
Autophagy | Stem Cell Regeneration | Prolong lifespan
This study shows that you have to do it for 48 hours or more. See the section on the different stages to know why. The clinical trial shows that 72 hours of no calories is beneficial for the human body and may even prolong lifespan. In cancer patients, it protected them from toxicity from chemotherapy.
It was found out that those that last for 3 days or longer can “reset” some of our bodily functions and components, specifically our immune system. Our bodies undergo autophagy and stem cell regeneration. IT recycles old, damaged proteins. It does the same to microbes and cell organelles to build new tissues and cells, leading to stronger immunity and protection against cell degeneration. Other people call this “self-cleaning.” It is generally believed that the body’s self-cleaning process starts kicking in majorly around day 3-5 of not eating. Autophagy increases. However, the scientific study of autophagy is still in its infancy.
For further reading, you can check this article by Suzanne Wu from the University of Southern California. It delved deeper into the topic and included interviews with the researchers.
Lowers Blood Sugar & Pressure | Reduces Risk for Cancer and Diseases
Widely known by people interested in the topic, Dr. Jason Fung proved to reverse type 2 diabetes and cure prediabetic symptoms. He also wrote two of my favorite books on fasting, diabetes, and obesity: “Obesity Code” and “The Diabetes Code.” People were able to lower their blood glucose level, blood pressure, and weight. Here are some success stories that may inspire you!
Fasting is a ketogenic process. As your fats are burned, ketones are produced. In this study, evidence has shown that ketones production can selectively starve tumor and cancer cells. You won’t supply any calories/glucose to your body. Cancer and tumor cells will starve and die, as they are glucose-dependent. On the other hand, normal cells can use ketones for energy!
Reduces Hunger | Easier Weight Loss & Appetite Control
In this study, obese and normal-weight young adults did a 12-84 hour fast. After 3 days, there was a significant lowering of their ghrelin (hunger hormone) levels. It helped in controlling their appetite. They eat less and feel full easier afterward, which is important for easier weight loss and avoiding weight regain! Their experiences are very much in line with what I experienced myself.
The experiences also turned off certain food cravings, which will make it easier for you to have a healthier relationship with food. It was especially in women.
Improved Metabolism & Muscle Strength
An increase in human growth hormone (HGH) levels happens during prolonged fasting. HGH promotes growth and muscle strength and also improves weight loss and metabolism.
This study involved nine men who went on a 48-hour fast, resulting in a five-fold increase in the HGH production rate. In this study, ten women did 4 days. It increased their growth hormone. Their ghrelin (hunger hormone) levels decreased!
Improved Eating Habits
Prolonged fasting can curb unhealthy eating habits and offer emotional and psychological benefits. It forces you to find other ways to deal with emotional or stress-eating. Unlike in IF or ketogenic dieting, people can still turn to stress-eating ketogenic foods.
Suppose you manage to stick until the end of it. You’ll see that your eating habits will improve. It’s just like how this success story reported a better relationship with food after not eating for an extended period.
Our bodies may respond differently to fasting simply because we have different current health conditions and genes. When we fast, our bodies follow a certain metabolic pattern. To easily understand what happens to your body as you’re going through it, let me briefly discuss the stages based on a 5-day fast.
Stage 1: DAY 1 (0-3 hours)
At this stage, your body is still operating as usual: the food you eat is being broken down into glucose. It then goes into cells with the help of insulin to be used up for energy. Excess glucose is stored away for later use as glycogen and fat reserves.
This growth process is an anabolic process wherein our body uses available nutrients/glucose for energy and muscle growth.
You will likely feel hungry on the first day of your fast as you’re not used to going extended periods without food. It’s because you haven’t gotten your ghrelin levels under control yet.
Stage 2: DAY 1
This is where catabolic reactions occur. The breakdown of stored nutrients happens, but your body taps into stored glycogen first and breaks it down into glucose. Your body will continue to break down glycogen until it reaches the normal blood glucose level of around 70-120 mg/dl.
Since you’re not consuming anything to replenish your glycogen reserves, your body will deplete all the available glycogen reserves. At this stage, you’ll feel hungry due to fluctuations in your ghrelin (hunger hormone) and leptin (satiety hormone) levels. Your body recognizes that you’re not eating, so it will try to get you to eat! However, you must endure this since it will pass as you get further in.
Your body will switch to another energy production pathway by the end of the day. Whether you’re fasting for 12 or 24 hours, it is a good practice to let your body enter some reasonable level of ketosis. At this point, fat loss becomes a lot easier. As these intervals are also considered intermittent fasting, it’s no wonder why people are using it to lose weight as well successfully.
This may also be when you start noticing changes to your breath, unfortunately not for the better. You can get a tongue scraper that can make a significant difference if you want to. I have personally used one, and the girlfriend is a big fan!
A very common variant of a 16 hour fast is called 16/8. You have an 8-hour eating window. Another popular option is an 18 hour fast with a 6-hour eating window, the 18/6. Both are considered IF. By hour 18, you’ll be generating significant levels of ketones. The longer you refrain from eating, your weight loss will also be more significant. There are also 20-hour variations. However, it’s really up to you to figure out how long you wish to go. It’s especially as you’re just getting started.
For people doing 24 hours, this is commonly called OMAD or One Meal A Day. 12 or 14 hours of consuming no calories is still a great accomplishment if you have previously been used to eating. You’ll quickly become less and less hungry as your stomach and body adapts! This is considered time-restricted eating.
Stage 3: DAYS 1-3
Within 24-72 hours, your body will switch to burning fats because all your glycogen reserves are depleted. This is what we want to happen. The most common variations are either 36 or 72 hours for these semi-long ones. It will start yielding very significant weight loss. Some people may even do a 48 hour fast twice a week, which will rapidly help with their insulin resistance. I like 72-hour fasts because they yield a significant amount of autophagy and weight loss. It still allows you to do them during the week without planning around the weekend.
During stage 3, your body breaks down fat (lipolysis) to release free fatty acids. This activates the metabolic pathway called ketogenesis. Through this pathway, ketones are released. They become your body’s energy source!
Your body also burns more fat through gluconeogenesis, producing glucose for your brain. There’s no need to worry about these sugars being stored! Your brain uses it all up!
At this stage, your ghrelin levels will decline! Studies show that during the 3rd day, the total ghrelin secretion of the body is even lower than 24 to 48 hours in! No more hunger pangs! When I originally started, it was really at this time that I started feeling great. It is very consistent with what other people have experienced.
Stage 4: 72-120 hours
At this stage, your glucose and insulin levels are low due to a lack of food intake. Your ghrelin levels also stay low. This is where your body is undergoing constant ketosis/ketogenesis, breaking down fats and producing ketones for energy.
This is also where your body produces growth hormones and promotes autophagy and stem cell regeneration! All in all, you’re breaking down fats and losing weight. You will better control your appetite and lower your blood sugar levels. You produce more beneficial hormones and cells! I have always breezed through day 4 of a fast whenever I have done one.
When doing a 36, I have always found it the easiest to start it at night. If you eat around 6 pm, you go 24 hours without food. Then you can eat again at 6 am. For some reason, I have always had a strong preference for starting at 7in the evening. I also do not tend to wake up hungry.
What happens when you’re doing it?
The same stages I’ve described above would happen. But what does it feel like? Will there be dizziness and intense hunger pangs? Or will you be feeling just like usual?
Expect the following when you don’t eat for 3 days:
- Day 1: If you aren’t used to fasting, you will feel hungry and irritated. You will also feel cold. There are many reports of people feeling nauseous at this point, some with vomiting occurring. I suspect that has more to do with keto flu and the body adapting to using fat instead of glycogen. I had previously done quite a bit of keto eating, so I suspect that’s why I didn’t experience any of this.
- 24-48 hours: I experienced the same symptoms as on day 1. However, I did feel a lot better on the second day than I did on the first.
- 48-72 hours: Honestly, I was feeling good by the time I got to 48 hours. Improved mood, no feeling of hunger. I was still feeling rather cold, though. Especially hands and feet.
- Afterward: If you have been stepping on the scale throughout this experience, you will see that you probably lost more than 3 lbs. That largely has to do with the water loss you experienced. As you reintroduce food, you’ll regain the water weight. It’s especially because carbs and sodium trap water. However, you will likely have experienced a nice 2-3 lbs fat loss throughout this period. Yes, that will happen!
How to do it properly
Consult with your doctor
First and foremost, you have to ensure that your body doesn’t have any underlying issues interfering with fasting. If you’re in any of the criteria below, you should discuss whether starting with your doctor is safe.
- People with severe diabetes and other chronic diseases may not benefit from it due to administering insulin shots and other medications. It requires regular food consumption.
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women need a well-balanced meal to support the baby’s growth and lactation.
- The elderly usually have various medications that require them to eat regularly and have underlying diseases that can make fasting life-threatening.
- Young children and teens need a high intake of nutrients to support their growth spurt and help their bodies adapt to puberty changes.
- People who have prior or existing eating disorders should steer away from fasting. This practice may morph into a form of abuse or punishment for them.
Determine your current total body fat percentage
Get your mind and body ready
Before: eat less amount and focus on eating healthy food. As you’ll be going into deep ketosis, it’d be good to start with a ketogenic lifestyle before. It’s a milder version of what your body is about to experience.
- Avoid going to places that you know will tempt you
- Hydrate and replenish yourself with essential electrolytes.
- Make sure to stay busy. You will soon experience just how much time you usually spend on eating and preparing food.
Can you drink water?
Fasting only entails limiting your calorie intake, not hydration. Yes, you can and must drink water.
Bear in mind that staying properly hydrated is very important. Our bodies still need to run on essential nutrients to operate properly. If you’re not supplying your body with any water electrolytes, there will be complications that may even be fatal. Some people supplement with vitamins throughout.
Not drinking any water while not consuming any calories spells one thing: DANGER! If you don’t drink water, it’s technically considered a dry fast. If you look around the internet, you can see some scary stories of people doing this. I would never do it myself.
Please, ward off any calories from your body but DO NOT skip drinking water! Regarding how much water to drink throughout, I usually drink enough water to feel thirsty without going out of my way to drink more. The downside to drinking too much water is that it will dilute your electrolytes. It is why you will have to drink more of them. If they taste anything like mine, it’s more of a chore than anything you’d do voluntarily. However, drink water when you feel thirsty.
Some people usually give up near the end of their designated water fast because they got tired of drinking water solely for days. How do you remedy this? You can simply get unsweetened and non-caloric drinks such as electrolytes and green tea. It can also be plain black coffee. I drink black coffee as it is not believed to break a fast, and I would be reluctant to give up caffeine. Some people will drink lemon water as it doesn’t contain calories or carbs. Therefore, it won’t affect your insulin and not be an issue.
Electrolytes are minerals in body fluids. You need to balance the amount of water in your body and control your body’s pH level. When you’re low on electrolytes, you’ll start to have muscle weakness and cramps. You may experience respiratory problems and even kidney failure. Samples of electrolytes are sodium, calcium, potassium, chloride, phosphate, and magnesium.
You usually get electrolytes from the food and fluids that you consume. Since you can’t consume any food during water fasting, you have to increase your drinking water’s electrolyte content. Both tap water and mineral water already have electrolytes. You can also buy electrolyte-enhanced bottled waters for more electrolyte content.
And suppose you’re looking for some drinks with flavor. In that case, you can opt to buy some non-caloric electrolyte drinks such as Gatorade and Pedialyte.
I take an electrolyte supplement throughout, which you can see from my journal. It tastes gross, but it has made me feel better.
How long is it safe to do?
It will depend on how much body fat you initially have to know how long you can go fasting. The more body fat you have, the longer you can go on. It’s very dangerous to go beyond what your body can endure! Therefore, it’s very important to consult your doctor first and measure your body fat percentage. I have put on weight for a couple of extended fasts before to ensure I had the necessary fat to sustain it for longer periods.
The ideal body fat percentage range is 10-22% for men and 20-32% for women. Higher than these body fat ranges, you’ll risk having diabetes and heart diseases.
However, body fat percentage can be lowered to 10-15% for men and women athletes and up to 3-5% for male bodybuilders. It’s 8-9% for women bodybuilders. But suppose you go lower than this range without any medical supervision. You’ll suffer negative consequences like low energy and hormone imbalance. Low fertility and headaches may also be consequences!
Our bodies still have essential fat critical for our bodily functions to proceed. Having too little body fat is just as bad as having too much of it. Both are extremely unhealthy!
I’d also like to highlight this study with more than 1,400 participants eating 200-250 calories per day, so not quite extended water fast. They reported no adverse effects from this diet, which resembled a zero-calorie diet.
Surround yourself with positive people and turn to your hobbies.
How to break a 3-day water fast and what to eat after
It’s very important to reintroduce the right type and amount of food slowly into your system when breaking the fast. The refeeding phase can get tricky. If you’re not careful, you can do more harm than good. After getting used to ketosis, suddenly getting an influx of carbohydrates will cause a flood of insulin in your body. It can cause health complications.
You must start with a small, light meal. Before eating solid foods, break them with bone broth or unsweetened/diluted fruit juices. Strictly avoid any heavy and oily food! This will upset your stomach. To introduce some solids, start with soft solid foods first. It can be things such as pureed vegetables.
Increase the amount of food slowly, adding only small increments over some time. To avoid complications, follow this guideline.
Also, there is nothing better in the world than having a cheat meal afterward. When you’ve made sure your stomach is back to normal and indulging in some of the things you were thinking about while you weren’t eating. It’s truly great! And trust me, you will be thinking about food throughout your experience.
How much weight will I lose?
One pound equates to 3,500 calories. In general, our bodies need roughly 2,000-3,000 calories per day. If you limit your calorie intake to 0 in 72 hours, you can lose up to around 2-3 pounds. Reduce your calorie intake by 1,000. You’ll lose two pounds in a week without counting the energy expenditure. Considering the fats you’ll burn due to movement and basal metabolism. You can lose around 5-10 pounds in just 3 days!
Don’t be too alarmed if you notice your weight coming back up afterward despite adhering to a proper diet. This might just be water weight. Our bodies retain more water, especially if we’ve been consuming sodium and carbs once again. Remember that time your face became bloated after eating instant ramen? Yup! That’s water retention!
In my experience, I lost roughly 10 pounds after my 3-day water fast. This is a huge achievement and would otherwise take significant effort if you go by a more traditional calories in, calories out approach. Although around 7 pounds of this might be attributed to water weight, I still see this as a significant weight loss result. I previously tried to look for a weight loss calculator indicating what you should expect. I’ve honestly mostly been going off my previous experiences and how they affected my weight and then extrapolating from there. I found myself nice and slim after my last experience. There are reports out there of 90-day water fasts and a man who fasted for 382 days. Those are simply periods that would require putting on too much weight for me to ever dabble in those waters.
It is considered by many to be an extreme type of weight loss, which I can agree with. However, it doesn’t need to be too extreme and make you feel miserable. Following the proper steps and heeding precautions, you’ll be able to go about it with ease. Sooner rather than later, you’ll get more confident about the whole experience! I’m planning on continuing with regular fasts, around twice to thrice a year. I’ll also do monthly 36 hour fasts, too. Do you want to join me on my monthly go at it? Make sure to read how over here.
Hope to see you around, whether your goal is 13 to 15 hours or whether your goal is to go for 30 to 40 hours instead.