I recently completed my third 3-day water fast. Fasting isn’t something new. Human beings have been fasting from the time we were hunter gatherers. Fasting is an integral part of virtually every religion. There are many health benefits to doing a 3-day water-only purge fast. A detailed list of benefits is a bit beyond the scope of this blog post. Here’s one reason: If you have a family history of cancer and don’t have cancer yet, a 3-day fast done thrice a year could help remove pre-cancerous cells from your body. Here’s another reason: If you have certain body parts where the Fat just doesn’t reduce one bit no matter what you do, Fasting might help. I plan to make it a routine in my life. I’ve received several queries from friends on how I go about it. Hence this blog post.
None of what’s written below are my own original ideas. I’ve mixed and matched what I’ve researched from people like Dom d’agostino, Peter Attia, Rhonda Patrick, Jason Fung, Valter longo, Tim ferriss and many others.
(Disclaimer: I am a 45-year old male with no known illnesses or metabolic disorders. If you have any sort of health problems, please consult a physician before you undertake a fast. I’m not responsible if you blindly follow what’s written below and conk off.)
The first step is to plan when to do a fast. I prefer to do it when I’m not working. I have to concentrate all-day looking at root canals through the Microscope and I don’t want to take a chance working on patients while I’m fasting. So, I take 4 days off. 3 days to do the fast, and one day to enjoy the sheer bliss that I feel the day after the fast ends :-).
Second, plan how to spend your time during the 3-days. If you don’t have any planned work to do, you are going to keep worrying about how hungry you feel. I usually do something constructive in the first half of the day and binge on movies in the second half. I ask friends and relatives for recommendations and make a list of movies/serials to watch. I also do a bit of Vipasana meditation because i find fasting conducive to meditation.
Third, buy everything you need for the fast and keep. You don’t want to go back into the supermarket and get tempted to break your fast. This includes plenty of water, some sea salt and Green Tea. If at home, use a refillable glass bottle to fill water. If you are staying in a hotel and don’t have access to refillable water source, and have to buy plastic bottles, then buy “Alkaline water” and few additional bottles of “Smart water”.
So, Here’s how a typical 3-day fast schedule goes:
Day O (Friday):
Finish work by 6 pm. Have a light dinner without carbs by 6:30. The fast begins by 7 pm. Go for a long walk post-dinner for a couple of hours if possible. Come back and have a shower. Do some work-related assignment. Read a book. Go to bed as late as possible.
Day 1 (Saturday):
Wake up late. Have a glass of water with a pinch of Sea salt in it.
Have a cup of organic green tea. (no additives)
Go to the bathroom.
Slip on Track pants, T shirt, headphones and walking shoes. Put a couple of podcasts on your play-list and go for a long walk for about 4 hours. The other alternative is to make a list of people whom you haven’t spoken to in a long time and start calling them one by one while walking. Carry a bottle of water with a bit of Sea salt thrown in and keep sipping. Buy extra bottles of “Smart water” if required. Walking will deplete glycogen stores in the liver and muscle and speed up the process of “Ketosis”. The sooner the body gets into Ketosis, the easier the fast becomes (lesser chances of headaches and lingering on in the so-called “Keto-Flu stage”)
Return home after the walk, take a shower. Relax for some time and spend the rest of the day watching movies and vegetating in bed.
Keep drinking lots of water. Keep going to the bath room whenever required.
If you have a headache, drink water mixed with some sea salt.
If the head ache gets too much, have a spoon of MCT oil/swirl.
If you feel hungry, have green tea. This will help control the hunger. Hunger usually comes in waves. Have some Tea and it goes away. I found it tough during the first fast, but the second and third time, I hardly needed to have any green Tea. Given a choice, it would be best to avoid green Tea because there have been some studies showing that Caffeine could probably affect some of the benefits the Fast, specially Autophagy.
If you are fasting for weight loss, caffeine doesn’t really matter.
Sleep as late as possible
Day 2 (Sunday):
Wake up as late as possible.
Have a glass of water with a pinch of sea salt. If you’ve managed to walk 3 to 4 hours the previous day, you should wake up in deep Ketosis and you shouldn’t have any headaches. Do a bit of stretching for about 5 to 10 minutes.
Have a cup of Green Tea. Go to the loo if you feel like. If you are constipated, don’t worry too much about it. As mentioned earlier, use green tea to suppress hunger or whenever thoughts of food come. I usually wake up and have a cup of green tea because I found that it gave me an energy boost in the morning. During my first fast, I had lots of green tea on all 3 days. But, during the second and third fasts, I had Green Tea only in the mornings. Do something productive in the first half of the day. Preferably, do something creative to hold your attention so you don’t keep thinking of food.
Keep drinking water all day. Go for a short walk in the evening. Go in an area where you don’t have to dodge vehicles or bicycles because your reflexes will probably be slow.
Watch movies or do something relaxing in the evening and sleep as late as possible.
Day 3 (Monday):
Wake up as late as possible. If you’ve made it this far, chances are you will find the third day easier than the first two. I usually feel the most energetic on day 3. In fact, during all my 3 fasts, on day 3, I felt that I could easily go on for another day if required.
The routine on day 3 is similar to day 2. Have a glass of water in the morning with a pinch of Sea salt. Keep drinking water all day. Have green tea if hunger strikes. Stretch the Fast on day 3 as long as possible. A lot of the positive benefits of fasting happen on day 3. So, you want to delay the Fast-break as long as possible. I try and stretch it till 9 pm.
The Fast Ends at 9 pm and you are free to eat. Congratulate yourself. You’ve made it!
Breaking the Fast:
There are several ways suggested on what exactly to eat to break your fast. Maybe, one should follow a certain strict Re-feeding protocol for longer fasts, but for a 3-day fast, I don’t think it really makes a difference what you eat. I broke my fast in 3 different ways the three times I fasted.
After my first 3-day fast, the first thing I had was a bowl of Lentil Soup. After a while, I had a large salad (Quinoa, Avocado and Sweet Potato Salad). That was it. The next morning, I went back to my normal diet.
During my second 3-day fast, I woke up on the third day dreaming of Butter chicken. So, I broke my fast with Butter chicken and Tandoori Rotis followed by Gulab Jamoon (An Indian dessert). Contrary to what I was told, nothing happened to my belly. I was fine the next day.
After my third 3-day fast, I had a “Mexican bowl” of chicken, beans, Salsa, Rice and Avocado. My belly was fine with that too. But, after the meal, I had this huge craving to eat water melons and ate four large slices late at night. This gave me a Sore-throat the next day. So, I’m striking Water melon off the lists of things to eat after a Fast.
The only exception I would make is for those who are fasting for weight loss. Your body is in deep Ketosis on day 3 and it would help with weight loss if you were to continue to be in Ketosis. In that case, you could avoid Carbohydrates and break your fast with Fats and protein. Consult a nutritionist to know how to remain in Ketosis post-fasting.
That’s it! Give Fasting a shot and let me know how it went.
Non-Bon Apetit! 🙂