Doing A Water Fast May Actually Be A Good Idea. Here's Why!
No food, no juice, just water for 7 days. Sounds extreme? Not for the friends I keep. Seeing businessman Atticus King go on a water fast for a little over 20 days, fitness coach Kristine Crouch for 30 days, and Erwan Heussaff for 7 days (with workout!) made me very curious if it was worth the struggle.
I’ve been doing extended juice cleanses for years. I was never bad with my diet to begin with, and have practiced Intermittent Fasting (IF) even before the term became popular (I was just really lazy to eat breakfast and snacks). Fasting does not intimidate me and I did it regularly.
Why do it?
First, do it to improve your health. Fasting has long been a science-backed practice for healing many illnesses. If you want to read studies on it, just Google. Here are some of its known health benefits:
- Purges your intestines and gall bladder
- Rests, repairs, and reenergizes your liver and pancreas
- Resets and boosts your immune system by taking out decaying cells and making way for younger ones (the stem cell effect)
- Slows down the ageing process
- Calms and clears the mind
You can also fast for spiritual purposes. Jesus Christ fasted for 40 days with nothing but water, while Mahatma Gandhi fasted for 30 days or longer to bring peace between political parties. Fasting can strengthen prayers, deepen meditation, and make us more sensitive to our inner voice.
What to expect?
Most people feel “hangry” on the first day of their water fast, but few are actually starved. This is because the brain is still rebelling against abstinence from food, especially since it is wired to a certain routine. On the first day, you have excess fat in the body for energy even if you skip meals (ketosis).
This is the hardest part. Your mind will go on overdrive. Personally, at day 2, I already lost an inch off my waistline. I wasn’t hungry but I was definitely light-headed and couldn’t attend to my work with the same speed and energy I would usually carry. Most people give up on day 2 because this is where extreme cravings kick in. A lot of people will have challenges sleeping.
The cravings are gone. You feel extra sensitive; the cold easily affects you; your sense of smell is heightened; you’re attuned to every sensation in your body such as feeling the rustling of the wind on your fingertips. You notice the intricate details of things. Any brain fog you might have is gone. Your thought pattern is slower but is more lucid. Suddenly, the solutions you’ve never seen before to your years-old dilemma become obvious. Buried feelings start resurfacing.
You continue to experience what you have been feeling on day 3 to varying degrees. You still feel weak and feel the need to nap once in a while.
Physiologically, I had no problem extending to day 7. Aside from feeling light-headed and not being able to multi-task, I did not have any issues. However, this was also the day life decided to throw me a curve ball. I was confronted with a highly charged, extremely nerve-wrecking situation by people close to me and I ended up eating tempura, vegetarian fried rice, and pumpkin tofu at Umu with close friends. It was glorious!
But even with just 3 days, I found that a water fast is worth the struggle—at least mentally and spiritually. In the short days that I went without food or juice, I was able to connect deeply with myself. As a professional, I would advise you to keep to a pure green juice cleanse if all you’re after are the health benefits. A water fast is a deeply spiritual process and will test your will power more than it will your body.
Do’s and don’ts
If you do decide to undergo a fast, here’s what you should keep in mind to make the most of the experience:
- Don’t binge on social media which can cause sleeplessness, dehydration, and overstimulation.
- Don’t be stressed. Avoid stressful situations and confrontations as much as possible.
- Don’t do full intense workouts. Your body is running on reserved fuel so do not overstrain. If you have to have movement, keep it to light strolls around the park and stretching.
- Don’t socialize too much. Keep your interactions to a minimum as this takes up a lot of energy, not to mention will mostly revolve around food and drinks.
- Do journaling. Take advantage of the slow down to write down your thoughts, emotions, and realizations.
- Do meditate, even 15 minutes is enough. Allot time to clear the mind and just focus on your breath.
- Do pray. The act will feel more connected and intimate during a fasted state.
- Do reflect. As old feelings resurface, new perspectives will emerge to replace old beliefs.
Before venturing on a liquid fast of any kind, it is best to consult your physician or nutritionist on how you personally can best go about it. We all respond differently to a cleanse, and it would be healthy to have someone supervise the process to monitor your symptoms and support your progress.
The author is a nutrition and wellness consultant for health brands like Life Core, Rockwell Club, Breville, Misso, Go Well by Sun Life, Echostore, among others. She is a macrobiotic chef and is also certified to teach yoga. Follow her on Instagram @WeizelGulfan or visit www.weizelgulfan.com