water for lunch 3 day fast what to expect

It Was the Shit That Convinced Me

Ridiculous as this may sound, what motivated me to try a 3 day fast was hearing about the shit.

I had yet learn how extended fasting would help me live longer and healthier (see Resources below), so I’d never even considered not eating for longer than 24 hours. It was a story my sister’s boyfriend told me about his own experience that made me eager to try.

He told me that at some point towards the end of his 3 day fast, he went to the toilet and all sorts of crazy shit (literally) came out. It was kind of like cleaning out your garage for the first time in 30 years, he said.

My garage could use some cleaning. I was sold.

So with my girlfriend Kim away traveling and thus unable to nag me about how I was starving myself or tempt me with delicious food, I decided to give a 3 day fast a go.

Man was it a mind-blowing experience!

fasting essentials lemon coffee salt tea for a 3 day fast
Some of the essentials that helped me get through my 3 day fast: Lemon, coffee, salt, green and mint tea.

3 Day Fast, Day 0

The Last Meal

To celebrate (mourn?), I made a delicious and humongous Sunday night dinner, capped off with some Toblerone and a cocktail to celebrate. Then I began my 3 day fast. No more cooking, dishes, or chewing for 72 hours. Just water, tea, lemon, and black coffee.

I went to sleep feeling like a marathoner about to start his first race.

3 Day Fast, Day 1

empty bowl and coffee for breakfast on a 3 day fast
My daily breakfast during my 3 day fast. Coffee and air.

Setting Off on a Voyage of Self-Discovery

My first day was kind of like that of an early explorer setting out in search of the New World. I wasn’t entering new territory—I’d done 24 hour fasts before—but this time it felt different. This time I wasn’t turning back. I felt anxious and nervous.

Monday morning started as usual with my regular routine of heavy lifting at the gym (and a new personal best!) followed by a bunch of online computer work.

Then things got unusual.

Something’s Missing

Normally I’d have a big early afternoon meal, but this time… nothing. Just black coffee.

What felt stranger than not eating was not having my ritual midday lunch break. Rather than catch up on sports and social media while slurping down a smoothie and some eggs, I just kept on working. Who’d have thought fasting could lead to more productivity!?

Surprise!

My girlfriend Kim, who was supposed to be away until Wednesday, surprised me by coming home early. And since I hadn’t told her of my 3 day fast plan, she had brought some fresh salmon for dinner. Damn.

Surprisingly though, even as I watched and smelled her cook and eat her delicious-looking meal with envy, I didn’t feel hungry. I felt good.

3 Day Fast, Day 2

empty lunch plate and glass of water 3 day fast
My daily lunch during my 3 day fast. Water and air. Sometimes tea too.

Uncharted Territory

What a weird feeling it is to wake up after a day of zero calories for the first time in my life. I could joke that I literally felt empty inside, but it didn’t. I felt great. My sleep tracking app even said my sleep quality was 100%.

Feeling Electric

From the morning of day 2 to the end of my 3 day fast, my mind felt electric. As if I was high on Adderall,  I hadn’t felt more focused in ages.

This, I found out afterward when I read some books on the physiology of fasting, is entirely to be expected. My brain was running on cleaner fuel than it was used to and my entire body was benefitting from hormonal boosts.

I worked all morning in a hyper-focused zone. Then when my eyes started to twitch from too much staring at a screen, I walked to the nearby beach to unwind. I tried meditating for 20 minutes and… holy hell! I swear to God at a certain point I felt high. Amazing.

The First Negative Experience

Unlike on Day 1, I definitely didn’t make any personal bests in my Day 2 workout. I felt like I did the day I tried working out after taking the bus from Lima to Huaraz in Peru (an elevation gain of 3000 meters or 10,000 feet).

My body felt strong, but it didn’t have the endurance it normally did. After one or two lifts my strength evaporated, and at times I was lightheaded to the point of dizziness.

I was glad to have gotten some exercise, but it was certainly the first negative effect I felt on my 3 day fast.

An Unusual Day

Again, not having my ritual meal brakes for lunch and dinner was a trip. Honestly, I missed the ritual even more than the food itself. I didn’t know what to do with myself. It was like double daylight saving time: normally I’m ready for bed at around 11 p.m, but this time I was ready by 9. My brain wouldn’t stop buzzing, though, so I ended up reading in bed for hours.

Oh yeah, and most importantly (and disappointingly): no shit. No number 2 at all on day 2 of my 3 day fast.

3 Day Fast, Day 3

wine glass with empty plate 3 day fast
Feel free to use different glasses to spice up your “meal”

What the Hell?

Normally I wake up around 7:15 a.m. Today? At 5 a.m I was up and ready to go. My sleep app told me I had 90% sleep quality.

I still wasn’t hungry and mind felt sharp. So too did my hearing and sense of smell, which felt strangely superpowered. My body, though, felt lethargic.

The weirdest feeling though? My mouth.

My mouth was like the factory of a company that had just gone bankrupt. It’s all spic and span and ready to go, but empty. My breath felt strangely fresh and empty and my jaw tight from lack of use. Indeed, the night before I wondered to myself, “Do I actually need to brush and floss?”

Caving In

Do you remember how weird your teeth felt after getting your braces off? Or your arm or leg when the doctor removed your cast?

That’s how my stomach felt the last morning of my 3 day fast. It had deflated overnight and felt completely foreign to me. I couldn’t stop touching it with my hand. Normally I can do that stupid trick of sticking out my belly like I’m pregnant, but I couldn’t anymore.

It didn’t hurt or anything. It just felt tighter than normal, in a good way.

Pushing the Limit

Feeling mentally sharp but physically lethargic, I nonetheless went to the gym to see just how much juice my body had left.

Answer: Only a few drops.

I managed about 80% of what I do when nourished. Strangely, I even felt sick to my stomach. When I shot some hoops after to cool down, I could barely make a free throw.

My weight, which normally hovers around 197 lbs, was down to 189.

dessert and tea no milk on 3 day fast
Dessert and tea during my 3 day fast. Not much to look forward to.

The End

That afternoon I still wasn’t hungry, but I couldn’t help but daydream from time to time about my upcoming evening meal. I had grand visions of a gluttonous feast where I’d recover all the calories I’d missed out on at once.

Those visions were not realized. I ate half as much as I thought I would and the food didn’t even taste any better.

Immediately after eating, I had my first bowel movement since Day 1. Excitedly I went to the toilet. But it wasn’t a “garage cleaning” of crazy shit like I hoped. Just a couple tiny turds.

Despite the anticlimactic end, my 3 day fast was overall a mind-blowing experience that I will definitely be doing again. Maybe even longer next time!


Make Your Own Fast Easier with These Guides

If you want to try yourself, I highly recommend you go into it a little better prepared than I did.

Here are two resources that’ll help:

Simple Fasting Tips That’ll Make You Not Want to Eat

water fasting tips cover image of an empty plate and glass of water

Water Fasting Tips: Simple Answers to Your Tough Questions

These water fasting tips will help you overcome your doubts, inspire you to give it a go, and make your fasting experience a whole lot easier.
12 comments

Check out these important but simple tips on fasting for answers to common questions like:

  • How can I possibly work while I’m fasting?
  • How much muscle / fat will I lose?
  • What can I do to feel less hungry?

Since I’m no doctor, all the medical info comes not from me but Dr. Jason Fung’s book (below). I just made it as concise and easy-to-understand (no medical jargon) as possible.

Click here to check out the tips.

Must-Read Book on Fasting

The Complete Guide to Fasting, by Jason Fung

I wish I had read this book before I did this fast.

Not only does Fung explain exactly how and why fasting works, he provides helpful tips to make fasting easier. For example, he writes that if I had had some bone broth I might not have felt so light headed.

I followed this advice on subsequent multiple-day fasts and found it made all the difference.

Of all the podcasts, diet books, and articles I read about fasting, this one was by far the clearest, most compelling, and most helpful. I’ve told all my friends and family who think fasting is crazy but want to lose weight and be healthier to read it. And, though I don’t know you, I bet you’ll find it valuable too.


Happy Fasting!

“Good luck” isn’t the right thing to say, since there’s no luck involved in not eating. I should probably say, “All the best!”

A three day fast really is all the best for your health. It’s definitely daunting for first-timers, but it’s worth it in the long run and you won’t regret it. Hopefully, this post will help you prepare mentally and understand what to expect.

If you have any questions or have different experiences on your own fast, please share with all of us in the comments. 

And, once again, all the best!

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36 comments

    1. Awesome. Hopefully it’s as fast-inating of an experience as mine was (or just super easy). If you’re up for it, I’d be keen to hear how it goes for you, and help with any questions if you have any along the way.

  1. I’m no DAY 3 now.. had a wiered bowel movement with some strange things in there so I headed over to google and ended up on this page 🙂

    My day 3 will be tonight but I will only breakfast tomorrow morning/midday so basically giving it about 84 hours in total

    1. Fantastic! This has got to be one of the few family-friendly posts online where people can un-self-consciously share about their weird bowel movements, haha. Way to go (and congrats on the strange shit)!

  2. I swear humans confuse me. Its a fast. Why would you include black coffee (a stimulant full of harsh histamine-producing chemicals and caffeine that will just increase inflammation, artificially stimulates the brain and tenses up the nervous system, and lets not get into what black coffee does to the stomach due to acidity and the gut as well… ) during a fast? Why would you have a “heavy workout” during your fast? Sorry to slam your comments with this, which you can feel free to delete after you read it, but seriously – why? Fasting is supposed to be zero food intake of any kind. Whoever decided tea and coffee were okay doesn’t know the data about why fasting causes a massive reduction of inflammation that allows the body to heal itself. The gut to get a break from agitants, and the brain to get a break from stimulants. 3 day fasts should include only water. Nothing else. And no, you’re not supposed to go beast mode at the gym. Again, this is supposed to be a healing process for your body. Not a tearing down process. The ENTIRE POINT is to remove your body from its normal routine and give it a chance to regenerate organs, muscles, nerves, and brain.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Bob… Bob Barker! If you are the real Bob Barker from The Price is Right you’ve made every minute I’ve spent on this blog worth it. And that’d explain how you’ve stayed so spry into you advanced years: Fasting!

      And you don’t just fast, you’re obviously hardcore about it. Good for you.

      You may be entirely right that you can get maximum benefits from only consuming water while you fast. And I suppose the regenerative ideal would be to put in an IV, never leave your bed, and hibernate for a few days (or more). But for most of us, that’s not realistic. Better a fast that people can live with and want to repeat periodically than a fast that most will suffer doing, fail at, and never try again. That’s why Dr. Fung allows for coffee and other non-water items, and why Dr. Victor Longo, whose entire career and research is dedicated to promoting longevity through fasting, has promoted a fasting mimicking diet, which his studies have found has close to the same benefits as pure water fasting but is much easier to comply with.

      Don’t be sorry for “slamming” my post. I really appreciate it and the readers should read it. Thanks for sharing your input!

        1. That’s a good, and tough, question Janet! According to this study (of mice), autophagy started kicking in after fasting 24 hours and activity increased 48 hours in, so a multi-day fast is more effective. This varies on your blood glucose and glycogen levels when you start your fast. Check out this post on siimland.com for more detail.

      1. Cool read bro!!! But then comes the smartest human ever… Bob…. And Bob is going to let us know he is the real expert…. gosh what a life sucker.

        Well Chris its crazy how we need to defend our opinions/experience/beliefs unnecessarily when guys like Bob come to trash and bash things. Things we truly feel are beneficial to the masses. I totally related and understood the point, the whys and whats of your article. You are speaking loud and clear to 99.9% of us.

        I recently dealt with the same type of hater for a biz idea I was trying to market. This dude came outta no where!!! Guys like this really try to steal your thunder… its sad and demotivating. Ive got your back! Mpre about Bob:
        Bob is the guy that nobody wants to be around in the real world cause he is gonna suck the life out of you. Keep being real with us Chris, even if you are just trying to sell a book… Joke!

        Anyways back to things that matter… Ive done 24hours+ fasts before, and could have gone longer but I just got bored of not eating… I like coffee and maybe I will sneak something else… Cover your eyes Bob… maybe a sprinkle of sugar!?!?

        Im almost on day 2 currently, I got a bucket of water next to pot in case I need a flush assist when the big one comes

        1. Haha, thanks Mr. Bob’s An Anus. I actually appreciated Bob’s “constructive criticism” because this isn’t a Barney episode and it’s through sharing differing opinions that we learn. But I most certainly appreciated your comment more. Funny, motivating, and helpful. Good luck when the big one comes!

      2. Wow Chris what a nice reply to somebody knocking your opinion, definitely a great approach to a different idea that somebody has about fasting. I have done multiple water fasts (3-4 days once or twice a month for the past year or so) and I follow a very similar approach to your fast with black coffee, tea, and electrolytes (salted water) and I have great results. I do see where somebody might think that consuming anything other than “water” would not be true to a fast, but let’s not forget that both tea and water are infused water essentially.

        Great article and happy fasting!

    1. Based on my experience, I’d agree. The first day of your fast is probably no problem but, after that, I agree that people should limit themselves to walking. Exercise-a-holics like me who feel bad or lazy when they don’t exercise can consider fasting to be their exercise. It’s very likely that those days of fasting are even better for their bodies than the workouts they’re missing.

  3. Great article, I plan to start my 1st 3day this Sunday. Question: how often is it safe to do a 3dsy fast? I plan to do more research but curious.

    1. Did some research, looks like once a quarter is what is recommended. My problem is if I see it works well for me I’ll want to do it more often.

      1. If you read The Obesity Code, you’ll see he gets some of his patients to do extended fasts over and over again so, depending on your health situation, that may not be too crazy. But you’re probably right that it would not be the best idea to go overboard without doctor supervision.

    2. I’m no doctor, so don’t blame me if you die, but if you’re not pregnant, on medication, or unhealthily skinny there’s not too much risk behind a 3 day fast. Well maybe be careful if you work with heavy machinery too, in case you don’t stay hydrated and get lightheaded. But if you’re totally healthy you’re designed to not eat without any issue, so you should be fine. And if start feeling bad there’s an easy cure: Eat!

  4. Thanks for the blog post Chris. My mom told me about Dr. Fung and his book “The Complete Guide to Fasting” a couple of weeks ago. I also have tried a few 24 hour fasts and swear that I notice slight changes to consciousness near the end that I’m eager to see through for longer durations. This morning I decided to do a 3 day fast. I have been worried about going to sleep on an empty stomach so it was interesting to read about your reports about sleeping. Since doing 24 hour fasts I would say that the re-introduction of food has had the affect of making immediately sleepy. Thus, I hypothesised that having no food and being in a hyper focused state would prevent me from reaching a deep sleep. Good to hear that was not the case for you!

    1. For me sleeping hasn’t ever been an issue when fasting, but for others your intuition is 100% on point, Dale. Their mind’s on overdrive and they have a harder than usual time falling asleep. If that happens to you I’d recommend you take extra care with your nighttime routine—avoid screens and bright lights in the evening, read a book, and take a hot shower before bed. All the best with your prolonged fast and thanks for the comment.

    2. I think our bodies are in such a state of shock, in case there really wasnt amy food, we would have the energy and sharp senses to go hunt for some. Then after a couple days it switches to reserves as we prepare to die of starvation. Like my phone switches to low batt mode… useless!

      Im on day 2 and cannot sleep at the moment and my gf hates me fasting. She left a small portion of rice on the table. Like so small it probably will not have any affect… But Im not gonna let her win tonight!!

      1. Yeah I think your theory’s on point TJ. Well kinda. It’s more than “a couple days” before your body goes into low batt mode (funny analogy, btw!). We’ve got lots of fat on us and when fasting we only burn about half a pound a day, so we can go A LONG time without dying. So we may be like smartphones, but our fat acts like a gigantic portable battery we can only access when fasting.

  5. Great post! Thank you for sharing your experience. I also do 36 hours 72 hours and did one time 10 days fasting. I can’t tell how awesome fasting is for me.
    It helped with my chocolate and caffeine addiction.
    I agree with the nothing but water comment. That is the way to get the main benefits from fasting. But I so relate with the Coffee part. It’s the hardest to give up. I started with 24 hours first then next time 36 and gradually increased every week and now I just drink coffeee for pleasure not because my body need it and I enjoy its taste more than before.

    1. That’s a really interesting perspective, Dawn! I’ve never heard of anyone fasting to help with chocolate and coffee addiction. The more I hear from people about their experiences with fasting, the more it becomes apparent how versatile it is.

      For example, I don’t feel the effects of caffeine in coffee and only drink it for the taste of something hot that’s not water or tea. Coffee doesn’t bother my stomach, either, so I drink it when fasting. Your relationship with coffee seems to be quite different, so I totally understand why you’d want to avoid it during your fast. So I guess everyone’s gotta think of what their objectives are from fasting and play around with what works best for them.

  6. I am finishing up my 72 hours tonight! I feel great and amazingly, not hungry. I’m planning some steamed veggies and some broth tonight. Yummy? I’ve lost 6 pounds already so I love this. I also feel great!

    I’m thinking of doing this once a month now since my first experience was so good.

  7. I didn’t just have plain water, by the way. I had zero calorie flavored mineral water and coffee. Sorry, not ready to give up my coffee. 🙂

    1. Way to go Nate. Isn’t it weird how your hunger goes away? And, as a bonus, it seems to continue one well after your fast so you only feel hungry when you’re actually… hungry.
      Of the 6 pounds you lost, expect to gain back a good 5 of those. That’s water (see the fasting FAQ for more info). But even though one pound doesn’t seem like much, you’ll have improved your metabolism and hormone levels, which can lead to continued benefits moving forward.
      And yeah, as for the water/coffee, if it gets you through the fast happy and eager to do more, then it sounds good to me.

    1. Hey Sophie, I’d recommend avoiding anything with artificial sweeteners because they trick your body into thinking and acting as if it has sugar in its system. That said, if it helps you get you through your fast and you can’t fathom going a few days without chewing, go ahead.

  8. Thanks for sharing your story. I’m currently on day 4 of my first 5 day water fast. Reading the complete guide to fasting book. So far so good, although my hunger didn’t go away completely after first 2-3 days. It still comes and goes in waves. I do feel lighter and can do exercises easier. I am pretty cold though, most of the times. I also didn’t have any bowel movements yet. In fact, on day 1 I drank 2 tea spoons of epsom salt on water, hoping to get cleaned out before getting into the fast and nothing happend. I wonder if I’m deficient in magnesium and my body just absorbed it? I’m drinking filtered water and occasionally carbonated mineral water and had some grains of salt here and there when the hunger was strong. Now I’m worried I sabotaged my autophagy process by eating salt, as it was the main reason I was doing this fast.
    I have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and taking my meds in the morning. Checking my blood pressure and blood sugar and so far so good. Hope to finish the fast tomorrow night with a low carb dinner.
    Next I’ll try 24 hr fasting a couple days a week and continue IF for the most days.

    1. Way to go Tatyana! My experience also is the hunger doesn’t go away completely, but it’s not NEARLY as bad as people whose jaws drop at the idea of fasting think, right? On your autophagy worries, obviously I’m no expert but my rationale would be that since salt is a calorie-free mineral consuming it won’t stop your body from consuming itself (the old and unneeded parts) for energy.
      Oh, by the way, it’s funny and ironic that your profile pic is you eating something that looks delicious!

      1. Yes! The hunger was not as bad, but it was definitely there. So I decided to beak the fast at the end of the 4th day as I was feeling Ike I really NEEDED to eat (not just feeling hungry). I had chicken broth I cooked with chicken wings and a little of meat and it was the best broth I ever had! I’m continuing with 16:8 IF now and it’s going pretty good. I had some stomach pain and discomfort on day 3 post fast, not sure if it’s due to spicy Mediterranean food I had on day 2 or some other issues. After all, the experience was more positive than negative for me and I plan to repeat it a few times a year. Perhaps fasting after the holidays would be beneficial and will give me an opportunity to enjoy the holiday feast guilt-free. And yeah, that was one delicious turkey leg at a renaissance fair in my profile pic lol

  9. This is not the first time I had three days and three nights fasting. The first time I did it without taking any water and I was really weak after three days. The second one I had water and taking tablets but I feel very strong after three days and three nights though I had a smelly large bowel movement on my second day.

    1. No water for 3 days? Lee, you’re crazy! That must’ve been incredibly difficult. Glad to hear the second time around “passed through” better with some water and tablets!

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