From time to time I will do lifestyle posts on pursesandpugs in addition to fashion, handbags and accessories. These posts can be about anything, and this time it’s about a three day water fast.
For several reasons, which I will go further into later on in this post, I recently decided to do a three day water fast with a few non-caloric beverages like black coffee and herbal tea. The thought of not eating for three whole days (72 hours) was scary, but I did my research and felt it was safe to go through with it. There are many great articles about this topic, I learnt a lot reading this one. And if it gets too hard, you can break your fast at any time. But stubborn as I am, I didn’t want to do that. If I set a goal, I do my very best to achieve it. All or nothing, that’s me. So I did it, and here’s how it went.
Why I decided to do a three day water fast
For me, there were three reasons:
- Give the digestive system a rest so it could repair and heal itself.
- Improve immunity and gain more energy.
- Lose weight.
The first two reasons have do with my autoimmune digestive disease, ulcerative colitis. It’s chronic so I need to be on medicines for the rest of my life, but there are other things I can do as well to reduce the symptoms. For me, following a low FODMAP diet has helped a lot, but I’m often low on energy so I wanted to try fasting as well as I read that could help. The third reason is because I still have some excess weight from my last pregnancy 8 months ago. It is not much, but it’s enough to make me feel a bit down. I want to wear all of my old clothes again and feel good about myself, both on the inside and the outside.
I probably broke most of the rules on how to prepare! This was actually a spontaneous project, because I accidentally came across a great article about fasting and immediately decided that I wanted to try. So why wait? To be honest, I did none of the preparations that are recommended, like preparing your mind, eating light one or two days in front, etc. But I have done many colonoscopies due to my chronic illness and had to fast for 24-48 hours in front, so I knew my body could handle it.
I started my fast after dinner at 6 pm on a Sunday. Not eating for the rest of the evening was no problem. I woke up, feeling my usual self and was not hungry. Because I am a breakfast person I thought I was going to be hungry pretty fast, but I wasn’t. Around lunch time I started to feel hungry. I drank a cup of coffee and some sparkling water, which helped a little.
In the afternoon I was indeed hungry, but I could deal with it. It was worse to experience dizziness and a light headache. I had read that this was normal though, so no worries. But the worst part was watching my family have dinner and not be able to be as social as I wanted to! And smelling the food! But my stubborn personality helped me a lot. I was going to do this, giving up was not an option.
Throughout the day I drank a lot of water, sparkling water, herbal tea and some black coffee. In the evening I had no energy, I was dizzy and little nauseous. I just didn’t feel good. This is also normal, especially if you’re not used to fasting, so no worries here either. I went to bed feeling exhausted, but bearing in mind that luckily the first day was over.
I didn’t sleep well at all the first night and woke up very tired. It could be that I hadn’t eaten for 1.5 days, but it could also be because of a nightmare (which I rarely have!) and that my two little boys woke me up a couple of times. Probably a combination. I felt hunger, but the worst part was having little energy and feeling dizzy.
Throughout the day I switched between feeling OK one minute and being hungry as hell, dizzy and nauseous the next. It was a rollercoaster! In addition I also felt a minor pain in my kidneys. This is because they are working extra hard filtering out a lot of toxins. I was very aware of this though, because if the pain had worsened I would have stopped fasting. The kidneys should be able to handle some extra load, but you need to be careful as well.
To be honest, the second day was even worse than the first. By dinner time I almost gave up. I was craving all kinds of food and was extremely close to throwing myself over my family’s dinner. But again, my stubborness won and I kept on going. When I went to bed that night I was happy about one thing – that this day was over.
I woke up after a good night’s sleep. I wasn’t hungry and felt pretty good. My energy was surprisingly high. This could only mean one thing, by now my body had switched energy source and gone into natural ketosis. This means that when your body has burned off all the carbohydrates (sugar) from food, which is stored as glycogen in the liver, it switches to burning your stored fat instead. And once you start burning fat, there’s almost an unlimited amount of calories there. You could go for days without food. It’s like the body says, “hey, found fat, no need for food!”. You don’t feel much hunger and the energy level goes up, because the body has switched to another power source.
OK, so I did feel a little hungry throughout this day as well, but it was nothing compared to the first two days. Mostly I felt content and had a reasonable amount of energy. When the clock hit 6 pm and I had finished my 72 hour fast, I could easily have gone longer. But that was not an option, because this was a social challenge as well. I missed having dinner with my family and I missed my caffe latte!
Breaking the fast
I didn’t prepare much before I started to fast, but for me that was no problem. I think how you break your fast is more important. If you devour a big meal right away, you will probably feel quite awful after a short while. Your body will be shocked. Your digestive system has taken a long break so you need to introduce food slowly.
It’s recommended to start with lemon or orange juice, so I had a glass of fresh orange juice. Oh my, that tasted SO GOOD. Then, after a couple of hours, I made a vegetable soup and ate a big bowl. So far so good and I didn’t feel any discomfort. The next day I had another glass of fresh orange juice and my beloved caffe latte for breakfast. For lunch I had another bowl of the vegetable soup, same for dinner plus some broccoli and pomegranate seeds. The day after that I ate normal. By doing it this way, I had no discomfort what so ever.
I’m not gonna lie. It wasn’t easy to go through a three day fast, especially the first two days were hard. But in the end I definitely think it was worth it. I feel more energetic, my stomach is very grateful and I lost 3 kilos (around 6.6 lbs).
For me they key was to include non-caloric beverages in addition to water. I didn’t have any kind of artificial sweeteners like diet sodas though, only black coffee and herbal tea. And sparkling water. This was a lifesaver! I don’t think I could have gone through with this by only drinking pure water.
I will do this again. Maybe a combination of a 24, 36 or 72 hour fast from time to time. Hopefully it will go smoother next time since my body has done it before. I also want to try intermittent fasting on a more regular basis. Intermittent fasting means you have a 6-8 hour window where you eat normal, the rest of the day you fast. Definitely doable.
I’ve always been positive to try out different things to feel better in body and mind. Fasting is one of those things that has given me a positive surprise. If you have some willpower it’s the least complicated thing you can do. You don’t have to cook and it’s completely free. And your body will thank you for it.
I am not a specialist in this area or a physician, so I will not recommend others to do this. It’s up to you to try fasting if you know you are healthy enough and have done your research. This is not for everyone. Children and those who are underweight, pregnant or breastfeeding should NOT fast.