Well, after 9-months of alternate day fasting, I finally got around to trying a 7-day water fast. The idea of attempting one had always been intriguing, but at the same time daunting, and beyond me – a mere mortal. But now with all my alternate day fasting experience under my belt, I felt fairly confident that I would be able to manage a 7-day water fast, although I still wasn’t sure how my body would actually react.
After doing lots of research on the Internet, I came to the conclusion that fasters can be roughly split into two types of groups: active fasters and passive fasters.
- Active fasters believe that humans by design are meant to go without food periodically and that in order to hunt for food that one should be able to continue an active and normal lifestyle while fasting.
- Passive fasters view fasting as a time of healing and take this as an opportunity to slow down and allow the body to channel its energy to healing.
I decided that I was going to attempt an active fast for my first long water fast, where I would try to maintain my daily routine, because if I decide to incorporate longer fasts into my lifestyle on a yearly basis, passive fasting is not going to be realistic.
I am very happy to report that my fast went amazingly well, perhaps too well, meaning that it perhaps might not correlate well to the average faster’s results. Having said that, each fast is unique to each individual, so my experience is as valid as any. I attribute my fast being as easy as it was to my routine of alternate day fasting. During the past 9-months, I have fasted more than 100 days, so my body is well adjusted to going without food.
- Most fasters report a feeling of hunger on either day 2 or 3; I experienced no hunger on any day of my fast. I attribute this to the fact that I practice alternate day fasting already.
- Physically, I was not expecting my energy level to be as high as it was. I was basically able to do everything that I normally do, which includes a lot of walking and bicycling in what was 30+ degrees weather. Asides from walking and bicycling, I did decide not to undertake any strenuous exercise. So I stopped my usual routine of push-ups, pull-ups, and sit-ups. Part of the reason why I did this was because 1) it’s my first extended water fast, and 2) I have an injured elbow, which I wanted to give a rest to see if it would heal. It’s been injured for more than six months now.
- My weight dropped steadily throughout the fast. I started at 64.8kg and ended 7-days later at 59.8kg, a drop of 5kg. My body fat percentage stayed constant, though, which implies that I lost an even proportion of muscle and fat, which is neither good nor bad. I suppose I was hoping to lose a higher percentage of fat than muscle, but on the flip side at least I didn’t burn more muscle than fat, so I’m not complaining. I expect to immediately put back on 2kg once I start eating, but I am hoping to keep the remaining 3kg off via alternate day fasting. It has worked out well as I basically have lost the weight that I put on during my trip to the US the previous month, but let’s see where I stand at the beginning of next month.
- As it is the middle of summer, it’s a bit hard to say for sure, but I would say that I tended to feel less hot than others, which means that in the winter, I would have felt colder than others. This corresponds with what most fasters say. I intend to attempt another longer fast during the winter, but given how cool I felt compared to others in this heat, I’m somewhat concerned about how cold I might feel when fasting in the middle of winter.
- At the beginning of the fast, I wasn’t getting much sleep at night, but that didn’t cause me to feel sleepy during the day. I did usually take a one-hour nap in the morning before noon to make up for the lack of sleep, but asides from that, it had no negative impact on my energy levels. Towards the end of the fast, my continuous sleeping hours began to slowly increase which was reassuring because sleeping only 3-4 hours a night in my mind is not conducive to helping the body repair and rejuvenate itself.
- If I got up suddenly, I would feel light-headed and would need to pause for a few seconds before moving. This is also a common symptom of fasting. In my case, my vision would slowly almost completely blackout, but it would return to normal in a few seconds if I just remained still. I’ve had this happen to me before in my life, so it wasn’t completely unexpected and not the least bit concerning.
- Mentally, a lot of people report spiritual revelations or emotional cleansing, I definitely didn’t experience anything like that. My day-to-day mental state didn’t change at all. I didn’t experience any profound inner peace or any special mental clarity. True love was not found. I didn’t even have any memorable dreams. All-in-all pretty boring from a psychological point of view, although I did have one insight regarding one thing, but I’m not sure that that should be attributed to the wonders of fasting.
- I spent a considerable amount of time around food but had no cravings or hunger pangs whatsoever. I participated in meals with my family and friends, and I regularly went for walks scouting out new restaurants to eat at after my fast was complete or browsing supermarket aisles for ingredients required for new dishes that I planned to cook. I spent many hours searching up recipes on the Internet. As we are contemplating buying a home bread maker, I spent lots of time researching this, a part of which entailed visiting every single bakery I stumbled across. Suffice it to say that food cravings were non-existent despite my best attempts to trigger them.
- My sense of smell was definitely heightened and provided me with great joy. Smelling food was extremely enjoyable, and yet did not trigger cravings whatsoever. And just smells, in general, were significantly more noticeable. Walking around town, it seemed like they emanated from everywhere.
- Many fasters report better eyesight. I never understood what this meant until now. The best way to describe it is to liken it to what it feels like the first day you get a new pair of glasses with a new prescription. Everything appears just that bit sharper.
- Surprisingly, I managed to have three bowel movements during my fast on days 3, 4, and 7. The first one was like a “halleluyah” moment, but when I finally stood up and saw it, turned out to only be three very small goat size pieces. Not much output for the effort put in. The second time was surprisingly substantial, what I would consider a proper ladylike movement, that appeared to clear out whatever feces was left in my bowels. And the third time was just one little piece, barely worth writing about, but still noteworthy because it came out on the last day after 7-days without eating.
In conclusion, a very promising start to what I hope to be many more long fasts in the future. Right now, I am toying with the idea of doing four 2-week fasts a year, one each quarter, as a maintenance routine, and perhaps switching to a 5-2 or 4-3 fasting diet from alternate day fasting. In addition, I would like to incorporate a few vegetarian days into my routine if I can manage to find/make enough vegetarian food that satisfies my taste buds to the same degree that meat does. If I switch to 5-2, it would make sense to eat vegetarian the day before and the day after my fast days to help keep the digestive load to a minimum. Whether or not I will actually end up moving to this routine, though, is still undecided as I have a wife and kids who are part of the equation.
Once a few weeks have gone by, I’ll put up an update regarding this fast. Hopefully, something good will come out of this experience.
For those interested in the nitty-gritty of my 7-day water fast, below are my stats:
Height: 167cm (5’6″)
|Day||Weight||Body Fat||Scale Health||Age||BP (morning)||BP – night||Hours slept|
|Day||Water(ml)||KM walked||KM biked||Activity|
|5||2500||6||0||4 hours on feet|
|6||2500||4||42||7 hours on feet|
|1||Slight elbow pain (existing condition)|
|2||Slight elbow pain (existing condition)|
|3||Small bowel movement|
|4||Oily urine and substantial bowel movement|
|5||Slight pain in big toe with toenail fungus after waking but only for 30 minutes|
|6||Slight pain in big toe with toenail fungus after waking but only for 30 minutes|
|7||Small bowel movement|
|8||Broke fast with watermelon|