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

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These water fasting tips will answer the questions most of us have before (and while) fasting and make your fasting experience a whole lot easier.

Don’t Be Stupid Like Me About Fasting

“Easy. Don’t eat.”

Stupidly, that’s all I thought I needed to know about fasting before I attempted my first extended water fast. That made the fast a lot harder than it needed to be.

I don’t recommend you do the same, which is why I put together these water fasting tips. They answer the questions I once had and am now often asked.

I did my best to write in simple English—not over-complicated doctor talk. And while I’m 100% unqualified, the scientific info here does come from a doctor, Dr. Jason Fung.

Fung’s book, The Complete Guide to Fasting, is the most easy-to-read, helpful, and motivating resource on fasting out there. Start with these tips, then if you want more detail, read the book.

Even though it’s long, I recommend you read through every tip below because the more you understand fasting and how and why to do it, the better your experience will be. Then, you’re more likely to fast again are really reap the benefits.

Don’t be stupid like me.

Fasting 101

What’s the difference between fasting and starving?

Dr. Fung answers this with a fun analogy:

Fasting is running for health. Starving is running because a lion’s chasing you.

Kim and family, including pregnant sister
One of these people should probably not be fasting.

Why shouldn’t I fast?

Don’t fast if you’re under eighteen years old, pregnant, or nursing.

And check with your doctor first if you’re taking any prescription of over-the-counter medications to treat pre-existing conditions.

If I’m perfectly healthy, why should I torture myself by fasting?

You brush your teeth right?

Well, fasting is the same thing, but for your body. It keeps your body and brain clean and hopefully working well for a long, long time. And there are not dentures for your body or brain (yet).

Also, if you read through the other water fasting tips, hopefully you’ll realize fasting isn’t “torture.” It may not be as pleasurable as eating cake or nachos, but it is an enlightening experience.

French press full of coffee
If you think you can survive without eating for a few days, but not without coffee, don’t worry.

What am I allowed to eat or drink while fasting?

This question isn’t as stupid as it seems. Even on a water fast, Dr. Fung says you can consume more than just water. And I highly recommend doing so to make the experience more pleasurable.

  • Not allowed: Diet Coke or Coke Zero or any other zero-calorie crap like that.
  • Allowed: Water flavored with coffee, tea, lime, any fruit infusion you can dream up, some apple cider vinegar, or sea salts; bone broth; multivitamins.
  • An easier alternative? Possibly. See “Is there an easier alternative?” under Understanding and Fighting Hunger, below.

Dr. Fung doesn’t mention it in his book, but what’s helped me stay hydrated—which is super important but difficult to do while fasting—is adding zero or very-low-calorie electrolyte powders to my water.

The first time I fasted for a prolonged period, I didn’t add electrolytes and felt light-headed and woozy whenever I made sudden movements. When I added electrolytes to my diet in future fasts, those sensations disappeared.

There’s no brand in particular that I’d recommend over any other. This powder on Amazon ticks all the boxes, gets great reviews, and only costs around 30 cents a serving. Alternatively, go to your local pharmacy and pick out whatever looks good to you.

Reader Tips: 

  • As a cheap, easy, and vegan alternative to bone broth, go to a Japanese grocery store and get some instant miso soup packets.
  • Don’t drink too much water. Pascal points out that doing so, “flushes out the electrolytes you desperately need, especially when fasting.” He states that if you drink so much your urine is clear that’s a sign you’re drinking too much.

Benefits of Prolonged Fasting

What’s all the hype about?

Fasting:

  • Makes you think better and be more focused
  • Burns your fat
  • Lowers your blood sugar and cholesterol
  • Increases your energy
  • Extends your life (…as long as you do eventually go back to eating!)
  • Reverses aging
  • Is free

These are proven benefits. It’s a freaking miracle drug, minus the drug.

So what’s the catch? It requires serious self-control to refrain from that little habit we call eating.

Bodyfat DEXA scan results.
You’ll lose weight by fasting, but not as much as you might hope. (These images here are from a DEXA scan, which is the best way to track fat loss. Read our DEXA scan review for more info.)

Will I lose tons of weight if I do a 3, 5, or 7 day fast?

The good news is in a 5 day fast you can lose 10 pounds or more!

The bad news is that of those 10 pounds, 85% will be water.

Here’s the reality:

You can only expect to burn half a pound of fat (1,750 calories) a day while fasting, and that’s only after a you burn off all the sugars in your body first, which can take up to two days. So if you do a 5-day fast, you might only burn 1.5 pounds of fat. And since average human weighs 137 pounds and has about 25% body fat, they have 34 pounds of fat to burn, meaning they’d only lose 4.4% of their body fat in a 5-day fast.

The huge potential weight-loss benefits are long-term.

If you continue with a healthy diet and periodic fasting, you will reset your metabolism which will cause a gradual decline in your fat levels and eventually lead to notable and very visible results. A fantastic book that explains this process and can get you on the right path is The Obesity Code, by Jason Fung.

Will I look any different after my fast?

Yeah, you’ll look hungry.

But really, even though you won’t burn that much fat—as explained in the previous question—you will notice some visual differences. Most notably, your stomach will deflate. It might even “cave in” like it did for me on my first three-day fast. But once you put some food back in you, it’ll reinflate.

I’ve also noticed that my skin gets nice and clear as long as I stay hydrated.

Chris taking a happy bite.
One surprise benefit of fasting is that it’ll enhance your appreciation for food. Nothing tastes better than that first bite after a long fast.

What other surprises can I look forward to from fasting?

If you have never had a day without food in your life, let alone multiple days in a row, fasting will boggle your mind in some surprising ways. You will:

  • Have so much extra time on your hands since you’re no longer cooking, eating, or taking dumps.
  • Wonder whether you need to brush your teeth or not.
  • Experience a de-bloating of your stomach, where it’s not less-fat, but sort of caves in
  • Start considering what other habits other than eating you can tinker with to experience a whole new perspective on life.
  • Appreciate food even more than ever when you get back to eating. No cherry ever tasted better than that first one I ate after my most recent five day fast.

How might fasting help me live longer?

Fasting gives your body a break from everyday work so it can do some long-overdue spring cleaning.

It finds the old and broken junk (in this case, junk = cells) and burns it for energy and protein. This is the junk that, if left to accumulate and fester, can lead to degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and cancer.

Fasting can also prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes, or reverse it for those who have it. We won’t get into the details here but, basically, it helps your body get more efficient at clearing out sugar from your bloodstream. The complete explanation is simple, just a bit long. You can read it in Dr. Fung’s book.

Can’t I just eat less instead of nothing at all for the same benefit?

No

When you cut calories, your body reacts by slowing your metabolism to cut the number of calories it burns. This makes you feel lethargic, foggy-minded, and always hungry. And for nothing, since you’re not burning more calories than you’re eating.

On the other hand, when you fast your body can’t reduce its metabolism down to zero to match your food intake, so it goes into crisis mode. It accelerates. Adrenaline, testosterone, and growth hormone kick into gear so you can get out there and hunt for food effectively. Or you get more work done at your desk.

What are the downsides?

Your brain will be so jacked up that you might find it hard to sleep (see the next tip to understand why).

You also might have to turn down invites to dinner and lunch parties.

And you won’t be able to eat free samples at Costco.

Common Misconceptions About Fasting

Won’t I feel like dogsh*t the whole time I’m fasting?

Quite the contrary. Aside from being a bit hungry (though less than you might think), you might actually feel great.

As explained two tips above, your body will be running at full blast and pumped full of hormones like adrenaline, human growth hormone, and testosterone.

Your brain will feel great too.

First of all, it will be getting more blood since none is needed for your digestive system. (This is also why you feel drowsy after eating too much.) Secondly, once it has run out of sugar to burn for fuel, it’ll start running off of ketones from fat. Your brain on ketones, in my experience, feels like it’s on Adderall—super focused, alert, and sharp.

How will I get any work done if I’m hungry all the time?

Not only won’t you feel hungry all the time, but your brain will feel sharper than ever. The energy that’s normally used by your digestive system gets channeled to your brain and after a couple days your brain will run out of fast-but-too-quickly-burning sugar and start running off the slow-burning rocket fuel of fat instead.

Another thing: Since you won’t be eating you’ll have a couple extra hours to your day. You can use those to work more, sleep more, or do anything you want with other than eat.

Won’t fasting cause me to lose muscle?

As Dr. Fung explains, that would be like storing firewood all summer, then, as soon as it gets cold, chopping up your couch and burning it instead.

Your body isn’t stupid. It treats fat like firewood and muscle like your precious couch. It preserves muscle up until it is desperately needed.

Isn’t fasting less safe or effective for women?

In the words of Dr. Fung, “Virtually all studies on fasting confirm that both men and women benefit from fasting…If anything, women tend to do better.”

So sorry ladies, you can’t use, “But it’s not safe for women!” as an excuse.

Understanding and Fighting Hunger

Chris staring at empty plate.
You won’t actually feel like this the entire time you’re fasting.

Won’t I feel hungry all the time?

No!

And the lack of hunger you feel when fasting is the most surprising part about fasting (at least to me).

There are two main reasons why you won’t feel hungry: fat and ghrelin.

Fat

Your body’s go-to supply of fuel, sugar, will run out within a day or two of fasting. At this point, and only at this point, your body moves to its backup fuel source: fat.

Fat is something we all have a lot of (unless you’re an Olympic marathon runner or Mr. Olympia). As explained in an earlier tip, the average human has 34 pounds. That’s 68 days worth of fuel for your body to feed on. This means that when you fast not only is your body not hungry, but you’ve opened the doors to an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Ghrelin

The hunger you feel has nothing to do with your stomach being empty. It’s entirely mental.

The hormone responsible is called ghrelin. Ghrelin comes and goes in cycles based on your routine eating times. This explains why you’re no hungrier for breakfast than for dinner despite the fact that it’s typically been longer since you last ate.

Fasting screws with ghrelin’s routine, which is an added benefit of doing it. The more you disturb your ghrelin cycle, the more confused your body gets, and the less ghrelin it produces. This means you’ll feel less hungry even after you stop your fast.

I’m not kidding. I’m 6’3” and 200+ pounds, very active, and I used always be hungry and snack all the time. But since I got into fasting, I no longer crave food all day long. I still love eating, but I eat when I feel like it, not when ghrelin tells me too.

Chris and Dave eating after a five-day fast.
My friend Dave and I celebrating the end of a 5-day fast with a big meal.

How can I prepare beforehand to make my fast easier?

Eat healthily. If you’re addicted to sugar and refined grains, you’re going to be fighting that addiction as well as hunger during your fast. That’s super tough, so the more you can kick your refined carb addiction before your fast, the better. You do this by eating whole, unprocessed foods, and a diet high in naturally occurring fats (i.e. no corn or vegetable oils).

Eat irregularly. As explained in the answer to “Won’t I feel hungry?” the more irregularly you eat the more you kill off the hormones that make you feel hungry.

Find a friend. Dr. Fung doesn’t mention it in his book, but what works for me too is to find a friend to join you on your fast-inating journey. They provide support and accountability and celebrate with you after.

Clear your calendar. You probably want to avoid dinner parties and lunch meetings. Stick to going for coffee or tea with friends.

How can I feel less hungry when I’m fasting

Start your day with a big glass of water. I like to add a squirt of fresh lime and some sea salt for flavor and so it doesn’t go right through me.

Then keep drinking water. Lots of it. Since you’re not getting any hydration from your food, you need to drink even more than normal.

To add a little bit of taste, infuse it with fruits or add coffee, green tea, cayenne, or cinnamon—all of which have hunger-suppressing properties.

And here’s a sneaky helpful water fasting tip to feel less hungry: Don’t tell anybody who doesn’t need to know that you’re fasting.

If you tell people and they’re nice and understanding, they’ll constantly remind you of your hunger by asking you how you’re feeling. If they’re nice and not understanding, they’ll try to stop you from “killing yourself.” And if they’re not nice and not understanding, like my friends are, they’ll torture you by eating the most delicious-smelling foods as close to your face as possible.

When can I expect to be the hungriest?

Strangely enough, you’ll probably be the hungriest during your first day or two. After that, your body will transition to burning fat for fuel and you’ll stop feeling as hungry.

Dr. Fung explains that this is why doctors advise three-to-seven-day fasts instead of two-day fasts. Once you’ve gotten through the hard part, the first two days, you may as well keep on going! The benefits actually increase with time (i.e. a 4-day fast is better for you than doing a 2-day fast twice.)

After you get past the two-day hurdle, the next time you’ll feel VERY hungry is right at the end of your fast and the end is near.

I’m in the middle of my fast and I feel horrible. What do I do?

Try drinking some bone broth. The salts and minerals will help.

If that doesn’t work and you’re feeling not just hungry but actually sick, take a drastic measure:

Eat something.

Break your fast. You’ll get ’em next time.

Is there an easier alternative to fasting?

Yes there is, according to Dr. Valter Longo, a world-leading longevity researcher.

At the University of Southern California’s Longevity Institute, he’s found that fasting can increase longevity… except for one big problem:

He couldn’t get the people in his studies to stop eating for long enough to get the benefits!

To make fasting easier for them, he developed a clinically-proven “Fasting Mimicking Diet” that allows people to eat specific foods during a 5-day fast while still enjoying the benefits of fasting.

And now you can try the diet too.

The biggest downside is it costs $249 per 5-day package.

That said, the $249 cost is offset by the savings of not having to pay for any other food for five days and the package comes with a nutrition consultation session. Plus, Dr. Longo donates all profits from his 60% share in the company to the Create Cures Foundation, so most of your money’s going to a good cause. Still, $249 is too much for an underpaid blogger like me, but if you’re worried about not eating at all but want the benefits of fasting and have the cash, it’s worth a try.

Click here to see if this FMD is right for you.

Or, if you’re still skeptical like I was, read Dr. Longo’s book, The Longevity Diet, for more background. I found the book to be easy to understand with plenty of other interesting science and advice on how to eat for a long life.

All these fasting tips are helpful, but I’m still not sure I can do it. Any ways I can motivate myself?

Try reading my own journal from my first-ever 3-day fast. I’d never even gone a day without food beforehand, so for me it was quite the experience.

Your experience won’t be exactly the same, but maybe reading how mine went will inspire you or at least make you curious enough to try.

Or, if you’re tired of reading my writing and stupid jokes, this video that Kim forwarded me today is pretty motivating:

Background

Why should I trust your water fasting tips? Who are you?

Hey. I’m Chris. I’m a regular hungry human.

Only a couple of years ago, I ate four meals a day, snacked non-stop, and would never in a million years have considered fasting.

Honestly, I don’t remember what exactly got me started, but here I am, fasting regularly throughout the year. I just wish I’d been converted sooner. I like to think these water fasting tips would have convinced me.

I’m no doctor, but all the scientific information I share below is from one. It’s from the very best and most easy-to-understand book on fasting I’ve found, The Complete Guide to Fasting, by Jason Fung.

Is this list of water fasting tips a poorly-disguised book advertisement?

If it were, I would be the one being exploited even more than you.

Amazon, not Dr. Fung, does pay me a small commision if you buy The Complete Guide to Fasting through my link. But even if you and a hundred other people were to click the link and buy the book I’d only net about $75 total. Since I spent at least fifteen hours making this post, not to mention the time I spent reading his book, taking notes, and experimenting with fasting, and replying to comments, that’s a horrible wage.

I made this post because I truly believe fasting can improve people’s lives and of all the books, podcasts, and articles I’ve read, Dr. Fung’s was by far the best.

You didn’t answer my question. What do I do?

Ask away in the comments below and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible and add to this list of water fasting tips accordingly. 

Thanks for reading and thanks in advance for your comment! 


What to Expect from a 3 Day Fast if You’ve Never Fasted Before

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

If you’re considering a multi-day fast for the first time, here are some personal lessons and experiences from my own first 3 day fast that might help you prepare and not learn the hard way like I did.

Water fasting tips Pinterest image.

153 comments

  1. This was interesting and makes me want to try it. Thanks. Quick question – do you stick to a certain diet when you’re back eating normally again?

    1. Hola Stephanie. Good to hear from you! And good question. Actually impossible question! Finding the right diet is tricky, obviously. When I’m back eating “normally” after fasting I try to eat only when hungry (normally twice a day), never snack (which becomes easier to do after fasting and you’ve kicked your old eating routine), and avoid highly processed food as much as possible. Everyone’s got their own take and opinions on what foods to eat exactly, but these general rules seem to be strongly backed up by science and many, many studies.

      1. hey! if i go on a 20 day water fast and after eat at at my maintenance calorie level, will i regain any weight back? or is there a way to keel it off?
        amazing blog by the way!

        1. Thanks Mishal. The theory is that if you do a 20-day (!!!) fast your body’s “set weight” will recalibrate to a lower level, so when you return to eating at a maintenance calorie level (and assuming those calories aren’t full of processed carbs), the weight you burn off will stay off. The Obesity Code does a good job of explaining the mechanisms behind this in a way I found to be easy to understand. All the best!

  2. All those question and answer about water fasting are really useful also the tips you show here are incredible for water fasting. I have the same question like Stephanie, May I easily get back to normal water again?

    1. You mean easily get back to normal eating again, right? (Cuz I don’t know what “normal water” means.)

      On your first post-fast meal, start with something light, like a salad with some oils and nuts (no heavy carbs). See how that goes. If you’re still hungry, eat more. You’ve earned it!

      Then, when you get back to eating day-in and day-out, try to keep yourself from falling back in the unhealthy hunger cycles you might have had beforehand (3+ meals a day, tons of snacks, non-stop cravings for processed carbs). Skip meals here and there. Or even full days after huge meals or big nights out. Eat as much as you feel when you eat, but eat less and restrict what you eat (as much as possible) to unprocessed foods.

  3. I have not done a fast in long time. I did a 3 day fast long ago and only had water. I had all the symptoms you described, but I did not add any fruit to my water or have green tea nor I think had black coffee either. I am going to try it for 7 days this time, with all of your suggestions. Thank you so much for all of this information! 🙂 One last thing, a question… So you are saying after say day 4 or 5 I will get very hungry and that’s when I know I need to break the fast?

    1. Glad to have helped Jody! What I meant to say was not that you’ll get very hungry after day 4 or 5, but that you can expect to start feeling very hungry—or maybe not “hungry” but eager to put your teeth to use again—towards the end of your fast. Once the end is in sight, you start fantasizing about that first bite. (At least from my experience and that of people I’ve talked to.)

  4. Hello !! First of all I want to congratulate you for your amazing blog. I haven’t tried water fasting, but I have been on intermittent fasting for a while and I have noticed a lot of differences. I dont feel hungry all the time and my focus and concentration got better. I usually drink coffee and a lot of water until my first meal of the day, that will be lunch time around 2pm. Dinner usually is around 8/9pm. So I try to do a 17-18h fasting. However I have some questions. I usually take some supplements in the morning with a big glass of water with lemon juice (vitamin C and b carotene) and I chew 1 or 2 sugar free gum . Should I do this while I am fasting ? Thank you so much !

    1. That’s great, Mariana. I also fasted intermittently like you for quite a while (with the same benefits) before I tried my first multiple day fast. It certainly made it easier. I drink water with lemon juice every morning too!
      Regarding your question, supplements are fine, but stay away from all sweeteners. They’ll play games with your insulin and other hormones even though they’re calorie free. Is there such thing as unsweetened chewing gum? (Or is that just called “rubber”?) Check out my fasting FAQ for more tips.

  5. Great tips, specially for a health trend that’s become very popular as of late. Very funny too. I try fasting a few times during the month, I don’t do it every day, but I gotta say, it’s actually easier than I thought. When I commit to do it for 1 or 2 weeks consecutively, the first day is the hardest, since you adjust. Then it’s pretty much a breeze. I don’t have the sleep problem, on the contrary, it helps me sleep since I go to bed early to avoid feeling hunger.

    1. Thanks John. Sounds like you and me have similar fasting routines and react the same way to it—sleeping extra well when fasting. I suspect it’s because the sleep benefits of our bodies not having to spend energy digesting food outweigh the extra alertness that keeps some people up.

  6. I believe you are not suppose to add any fruit to your water as the point is to use the reserves of nutrients stored in your cells and not have more digestion of nutrients coming in….

    1. Yeah, I’m with you on the point of fasting, Jennifer. I’m not so sure there are many calories in a fruit-infused water, though. Seeing as Valter Longo’s been able to more-or-less replicate the fasting benefits with a fasting-mimicking-diet of a few hundred calories a day, I doubt infused water makes much of a difference. Buy, hey, good on ya if you feel a pure water fast is best for you!

    1. Hey Rachel. Sparkling water’s totally fine. The problem with any zero-calorie sweetener is that even though they are calorie-free they still stimulate insulin and hunger responses. Try adding lemon or spices like cinnamon or mint to flavor your water instead, or infuse it with orange slices, berries, or cucumber.

        1. Indeed one of the most cited studies arguing sweetners’ effects on insulin resistance is a 2014 one on mice, but there are others like this one, published Sep 2018, done on humans with the same result.

          When it comes to nutrition, there’ll always be arguments (and studies) for and against anything because it’s so complex and long-term. If artificial sweeteners make it easier for you to fast and you enjoy clear health benefits as a result, by all means keep it up!

          1. Hi Michael. The link is there but the text wan’t properly formatted to make it clear it was clickable. I’ve fixed the formatting now. Thanks for pointing that out.

  7. You didn’t mention anything about perscription or OTC medications. I take an allergy, blood pressure and baby aspirin pill daily

    1. Hey Ann. Under “Why shouldn’t I fast?” I had written that anyone taking medication should consult with their doctor first, but I’ve added the clarification that this means both prescription or OTC based on your input. Thanks.

      On the topic baby aspirin, coincidentally I recently listened to a podcast episode in which a doctor I trust, Peter Attia, mentioned that he dove into the research on it after a client of his asked him about it and discovered there was little, if any, research backing it. I don’t remember what his specific conclusion was, but since you’re taking baby aspirin it might be worth a listen. Here’s the episode: Kevin Rose Podcast Ep. 31.

  8. I’m just wandering how much water and what if I feel like I’m drinking too little water I tried it and ended up only drinking 3 cups a day. I’m also wandering if i should be worried that my urine is a dark orange color regardless if im water fasting or not.

    1. Hey Zaid. 3 cups of water is almost certainly not enough. A simple way to know if you’re drinking enough water is if your urine is clear or not. If it’s dark, you should drink more. From my experience, you really have to force yourself to drink even more than you feel like you should when water fasting. And try putting a dash of sea salt in your water, which seems to help keep the water from going right through you.

      1. Hello Chris,

        first of all, great post and sorry for such a late reply, but i didn’t find it sooner :P.
        I’ll have to disagree on that drinking part tho. Drinking too much doesn’t help at all (maybe with cravings when you flood your stomach?), but all it does is flushing out the electrolytes you desperately need, especially when fasting. Also, dark urine is absolutely not bad, it is a sign that you are flushing out toxins etc. you don’t need in your body and if you dilute them with so much water that it becomes clear, thats certainly a sign you drink too much.

        I don’t want to encourage anyone to fast dry without having proper experience and having done proper research, because this can definitly swing the wrong way. I have had some experience with fasting for days without food AND water and i can promise you, i am still alive 🙂 I actually felt more hydrated during that time, than ever before, which got backed up by many other people who dryfast, and since then i am convinced drinking too much water doesn’t do you any good and actually makes you feel more dehydrated, due to the aforementioned flushing out of electrolyters.

        Also i wish you had put a little more emphasis on taking the electrolytes, because they can really make or break a fast and everyone should drink saltwater during their waterfast, because again, otherwise you flush out your electrolytes and you feel weak and bad, since your body basically can’t use the energy as well.
        Again, great post, i am always glad when someone tries to reach out to people about fasting!! Especially with such a great post!

        1. Hello Pascal,

          Thanks for this perspective. You didn’t convince me to ever try fully dry fasting but I have to say I’m swayed by your rationale on not drinking too much plain water, and adding electrolytes when you do. Next fast I’ll give it a go and when I get the chance I’ll update this post with your advice.

    1. Hey Russell. I don’t know the science behind each specific mineral, but in general it does help keep you hydrated and replenish minerals lost through sweat to add some sea salts to your water. Sea salt contains sodium, potassium, and a bit o magnesium.

    1. Good question. Technically, you can exercise as much as you want. Here are all the technical details. Practically, and from my experience, it’s not so easy. When I try exercising after 2 or more days of fasting, I get lightheaded quickly and don’t have the same stamina, so I tend to take it easy. I consider fasting itself to be a good enough workout.

    1. Hi Sydney. What are you taking BCAAs for? It seems (from this study for example) that taking BCAAs stimulates an insulin response, so in general it’s probably not advisable, but it really depends on what the reason you’re taking BCAAs for is in the first place.

      1. Fasting (prolonged total nutrient deprivation) downregulates mTOR (a kind of metabolic master switch) which in turn kickstarts cellular cleansing (autophagy) and also upregulates the production of adrenaline, growth hormone etc. Taking BCAAs sends the “incoming nutrients!” signal thereby re-staring mTOR, provoking an insulin response, and shutting down autophagy, and the production of growth hormone, and all the other amazing metabolic benefits of fasting. So basically BCAAs (or any proteins carbs/sugars) undermine your fasting pretty significantly. Same with bone broth if it has lots of protein in it and you drink lots of it. I stick with warm sea salted water with potassium and magnesium (many commercial electrolyte powders have either glucose or artificial sweeteners which undermine fasting benefits, but make more sense if you’re taking them to rehydrate after GI upset or intense exercise). Here’s Dr. Fung on BCAAs: https://idmprogram.com/fasting-and-autophagy-fasting-25/ good luck and happy fasting! Oh, and I also found that if I’m doing a 5+ day fast I have to start the salt and electrolytes within the first 48 hours, because I sweat so much while exercising (which for me performance improves noticeably during fasts) and it’s too late to start taking salt on day 3-4 – everything gets out of whack and I feel weak and shitty. Made that mistake once and my BG dropped to 43 (ketones 4.6) but I felt so shaky and anxious I decided to end the fast a little early just in case. SeaSalt+K+Mg in the first 48hrs and I feel perfecto throughout the fast.

        1. Super helpful, Stacey! I especially like your advice to start adding the minerals to your water as a preventative measure rather than a reactive one.
          I’m also interested to hear in what way your exercise performance improves noticeably during fasts. Strength? Endurance?

  9. Hi Chris, I’m 3-1/2 days in and feel good, no hunger issues, a couple of minor headaches and I feel good about process. My question is I’ve had the runs since I started and I wonder how to stop them? I saw a couple of comments above about sea salt, how much and how frequently?

    1. Hi Scott, A lot of other people seem to have the same issue. I haven’t personally, so I looked around online. I didn’t find any scientific info, just anecdotal tips like this and this where the consensus seems to be it’s normal and if you feel fine don’t worry, but if you feel lightheaded or otherwise dehydrated take some electrolyte powders or drink some bone broth. That or eat soaked chia seeds for some fiber… or simply start eating again.

    2. Scott…

      You’ll get the runs the first 3 – 4 days to a week as your body essentially cleanses (at least that’s what I call it) your intestines. Mine stopped by day 4. Just be prepared and always head to the restroom just in case. You can also suffer from carb withdrawal sickness (flu like symptoms) the first week or so.

      13 days into a 40 day fast, should have done this a decade ago, could have been a trend setter! Down 20 lbs and no energy problems. Electreolytes and coffee definitely help 🙂

      The strange thing is… despite my desire to eat, after the first three days I haven’t really been hungry outside of my normal eating times.

      1. Hi Andrew,
        Just wondered if you made it to day 40 of your fast and your final results? Did you gain back any of the weight after you went back to eating? Also, what did you eat After you completed the fast (for the first few days, to week)? Did you know When to stop fasting, or you were determined to make it to 40? Would love to hear an update!

    3. Apple coder vinegar is really helpful. Plus it will help maintain healthy gut biome.
      That’s supposed to be why it works for diarrhea.

  10. Hi Chris. I’ve successfully made it thru a 12 day juicing cleanse before and when coming out of it I ate the wrong foods and ended up with a heavily debilitating case of internal hemorrhoids from explosive diarrhea. Yuck lol. What do u suggest to come out of this fast in a way where my body can adjust to a ketogenic lifestyle.

    1. Ooof, that’s quite the vivid description Anthony! Sorry to hear you had to deal with that shit (no pun intended). What are the “wrong foods” that you ate? Coming out of a fast it’s safest to resist the urge to make up for all the food you didn’t eat in one go. Start with something like a salad with some nuts and olive oil, give your body time to react to it, them ramp up your eating back up to whatever diet you want from there.

      FYI – You may find this podcast about juice cleanses and whether or not they’re effective.

  11. Hello. I started my fast to clear up my acne and lose some pounds. I’ve lost 21 pounds total. Although for the last 4 days I have maintained the same weight and my acne is still here on day 17. I’m not sure if it’s time to throw in the towel, what do you think?‍♀️

    1. Hey Anna. 17 days is a lot, so if you feel like it’s time to give in, maybe you should. You can always do more fasts later. When you make healthier eating habits part of your lifestyle and not a one-time thing you’ll start to really reap the most important long-term benefits.

    2. The acne will only disappear if you cut diary products for at least one month, and cut milk totaly. You will then never have the acne issues again. Trust me. Had this problem since i was 10 years old and tried everything, until i stopped consuming milk and dairy products. You can replace it with oatmilk, ricemilk, almond milk and so on.

  12. teo questions: can i keep on doing sport, still study while im doing this water fast? whats the ideal first time to fast on the first time? Thanks by the way all the other tips where useful!!

    1. Hey queralt – On sports there seems to be divided opinion. Some say you should let your body rest and regenerate without the extra stress. Others say you fasting’s the best time to exercise. Until there’s more certainty, I’d say do what feels right for you. And on when’s the ideal first time, I’d say to try when you you have a few days available that aren’t too busy or stressful and aren’t going to be around people who’ll try to convince you to eat. Starting on a Thursday evening then stopping on a Sunday evening is a good bet. Keep your mind off food by planning some fun things to do over the weekend.

  13. Hello 🙂 I keep hearing and reading that most seem to have more energy when fasting. I was feeling pretty good days 5-10. Now, on day 11, I’m just so tired even though my sleep has finally returned to normal. I salt my water, take magnesium and potassium, and have a cup or two of green tea daily. I also drink about 2 liters of water. Not hungry, just so freakin tired. Like, if I close my eyes for a few seconds, I will fall asleep, haha 🙂 I haven’t heard or read anywhere that this should be a sign to stop and I definitely don’t want to stop. Any suggestions? PS – You are amazing to take the time to help people like this!

    1. Hello Sissi, and thanks for the comment! I’m sorry to say that I have no experience with your situation. Could it be that you’re still sleep deprived from what you seem to imply were abnormal sleeps from your first days of fasting? Or could it be dehydration—do you have clear urine or is it pretty smelly and dark? Two liters isn’t actually that much when you’re not eating anything at all. If it’s none of those things, be safe and eat. 10+ days is a long time to fast already.

    1. Not really. If your metabolism is running a bit faster from your ketogenic diet already, you’ll be a step ahead towards having more longer-term benefits and have an easier time fasting, but nothing big enough to be able to see any notable fat loss differences over a short period of time compared to someone going into the fast on a non-keto diet.

      1. Hey, I’m trying to do a 20 day water fast right now and I’m on day 4 right now. I was wondering if you will lose more weight from a water fast if you are already 200+ pounds? I also chew gum twice a day that has no sugar in it, is that okay?

        1. Hey Hannah. If sugar-free gum keeps you going strong through your fast, keep doing it. On your first question, I suppose people who weigh 200+ pounds might have a slightly higher caloric running rate to keep their extra mass energized (this overview has links to studies that seem to confirm that), so the deficit and thus fat burning will be higher for them when fasting. But it wouldn’t be order of magnitudes faster. It’s inevitable that the more fat you have, the longer it will take to lose it.

  14. Huge thank you!! Amazing article and it’s empowered me to keep going on my first 7 day water fast. I’m on day four. You’re awesome

  15. This is really valuable content. I thought I would pass a note to thank-you for posting! You’ve gained a new subscriber.

  16. Hi thank you for this useful material on water fasting. I am planning to go on a water fast for 21 days. I have no health problems and not under any medications. I am 40 years old. I have two doubts
    1. During the first few days can I drink triphala to get my bowels cleared.
    2. Breaking fasting. If I break carefully as advised still will I have any risks in getting back to normal diet. Will my digestive system get back to 100 percent? (Some posts I read are scary that’s why I ask.)

    1. Thanks for the comment and questions Prakashraj. A 21-day fast and your question go well beyond my knowledge and experience, so all I can suggest is the following: I haven’t read anything about needing to clear your bowels—your body should do that for you without issue unless I’m missing something. As for your digestive system, are you referring to your gut bacteria? After 21 days I suppose some good and bad bacteria will die and the whole ecosystem will need to be replenished. It’s probably a good idea and can’t hurt to eat some fermented foods post fast to help regenerate.

  17. i m on my 3rd day of fasting, i can controll my hunger but i cant sleep properly in night and have constant headache (minor) and started to feel nausea after 2nd day (may be i should drink less water), i was hoping to find some tips about headaches. only thing that keeps me going is ‘4th day’ peole says u get euphoria state, i wanna feel that.

    1. Hi Skye. As you probably found on other sites, the headaches are probably due to low blood sugar. For future fasts, it can help to eat a low-carb diet for the days or weeks leading up to it to ease your body’s transition from relying on sugar from your diet as a source to creating sugars from the fat reserves on your body.

      1. From my experience, if you’re going cold turkey on sugar and other carbs – and caffeine! – you’ll get the migraine-like headaches and feel deflated for the first 3 or 4 days. It’s temporary, it goes away, and if you go beyond 5 days with your fast you’ll actually feel clear-headed and generally great…Chris – any “fasting kits” that you know of from the health food stores with mineral supplements? …Thanks for the write-up!…

        1. Good to know, Bart. Thanks. After you’re done fasting, do you eventually get back on the sugar and caffeine horse, or do feel less of an urge and consume it?

          As for fasting kits, no sorry, I don’t know. I find dehydration tablets from the pharmacy help, since preventing dehydration is exactly why I’m taking the stuff. And then good-quality bone broth if I really need it.

  18. Hello, Your post is amazing and i feel it very helpful in doing my water fast but when i started water fasting i feel pain in my stomach at my lever side on 2nd day and i am aiming for 2week fast. I have fatty liver should i drop fasting or what i do please suggest me.

    1. Hi Prince, I wish I could help, but your questions go way beyond my (un-)qualifications. If you’re unable to seek in-person expert advice, the safest thing would be to take it easy and slowly work your way to really long fasts. For me, getting accustomed to having only 2 meals a day (and zero snacks) helped a lot. So did getting rid of sugar. If I’d gone straight into fasting from bad eating habits, my body for sure would have rebelled.

  19. Day 1 almost under my belt. 19 more to go. Looking forward to seeing so many good results. Great information here & comments. Thanks!

  20. Hi. Is it okay to eat vegetables and a very low amount of calories from fruit or meat so I can remain in ketosis but get some bowel movements (I am worried it not being emptied for several days, and there is no sign that I will poop in the near future) and get some nutrients?

    My main reason for fasting is weight loss, and since I am now on day 8 of my fast of water, salts and vitamin tablets, I’m sure a huge amount of detoxing has already been done. So as long as I remain in ketosis, I see no reason to eat a little bit of fruits and veggies.

    1. Hey Atilla, Yeah, if you want to remain in ketosis, feel free to go nuts on veggies and oil… and nuts! Fruit is a different story though—too much sugar—so avoid it. Check out Valter Longo’s work on fasting mimicking diets; he’s found that some diets with a limited number of calories, mostly from veggies, can replicate the long-term benefits of fasting.

  21. Hello there! I am fasting to lose much needed weight. I plan on doing a 5.5 day fast with 1.5 day refeed each and every week. I will repeat this over the course of 4-5 weeks. Would this be a waste of time or should I do an extended fast to lost weight faster?

    1. Hey Marla. You should consult with a doctor on such a big program. In general, do whatever feels good for you. People have great weight-loss success with even less severe restrictions than you’re doing (5 on, 2 off). What’s important is keeping it up and breaking that addiction to food.

  22. Just wanted to congratulate you on this amazing article. Not only super insightful and helpful but also fun to read. Way to go! One unconventional idea a month it is…. Subscribed.

    1. An honor to have you on board, Kat! Let me know if you have any fun unconventional ideas of your own that I might be able to share with the rest of us in a future monthly update.

  23. I see you suggest putting a ‘dash’ of sea salt in your water so the water does not run right thru you. When water fasting how often or how many times a day do you do this ?

    1. Hey Lynda. I do it with just about every glass of water I have while fasting. I do first thing in the morning when not fasting too. As for how frequently I drink water while fasting, I don’t keep track but it’s a lot. For me, the biggest challenge is staying hydrated. All the best.

      1. You mentioned a ‘dash of sea salt’ in all the water you drink. Will all that sodium make you keep water weight on? Also, regarding salt – would pink himalayan salt have a same/different effect than sea salt? The taste of salt in water makes me gag I think it tastes awful – but I know I need the sodium. I tried a 2.5 day fast recently (I wanted to make it a 7 day one but caved), and noticed my muscles felt like they were getting weak – felt strange, I was concerned – is this normal? Do your muscles atrophy when fasting? Just wondering what I can do in place of the salt (if anything)? Would those electrolytes you mentioned in your article work equally as well for sodium? Could you take those electrolytes daily (or only so often)? Thank you so much for this great article and advice!

        1. Wow, that’s a flurry of questions Skye, some of which are beyond my area of non-existant expertise. My muscles sometimes feel weak when fasting, too. That’s normal. And from my experience the electrolytes helped a bit. You might want to try bone broth too, if you feel really weak. Your muscles may atrophy a bit (but not much until you run out of fat). That definitely shouldn’t be a reason not to fast because once you get back to eating they’ll regenerate better than ever.

  24. I did the 3 day water fast and my wife enticed me with my favourite buttertart. I almost ate the bag that it came in. Now I feel pain 30min after I eat or drink anything other than water. Thoughts?

    1. Hi Wayne. Sorry, but I don’t have any quick fix ideas for you. Thank you though for making me chuckle imagining you seeing and devouring butter tarts after your 3-day fast.

  25. I recommend when you break your fast to eat a date as it’s healthy and natural for your body. Is nothing new fasting anyway and it’s not to loose weight but to clean your body and to discipline yourself

  26. Hey Chris, great article, thank you for all your efforts! I’m a breastfeeding 36yo mama of 8, on an undetermined length fast and about 40 hours in. My baby is almost 2, so we’re open to weaning if my milk dries up, but I’ve read a bit about it and many mamas claim it doesn’t, and some claim their supply even increases so it will be interesting to see how it goes! My oldest four are all gone camping with youth groups for a few more days so I thought it would be interesting to see if I could at the very least last til they got back home. I only have the last stubborn 15lbs to lose and want to see how long I can hack this. Next, I have to look up the effects on kidneys because though my urine is completely clear I woke with kidney pain today. It’s a hereditary issue though. I wonder if this will help that, also? (In the long run). Anyway, thanks for all the great info and support! I’ll let you know how it goes if you’re interested 🙂

    1. Hey Diana, Super interesting. To cover my own butt, I do want to reiterate that fasting’s not recommended for pregnant or nursing mothers, but it seems like you’re being extra careful and your kid’s older. Please do keep us posted on what happens.

  27. Hi Chris, this was a fantastic read and just what i needed as i’m currently on day 2 of my first ever fast and it’s getting hard, i have one question though with regards to diet cola, i had a can of it this morning and then read this and realised i wasn’t allowed it.

    There is a lot conflicting information on it raising insulin and not but it really helped my headache and craving to break the fast, have i undone my hard work so far or should i just forget about it and carry on?

    1. Hi Nathan. In the future I’d recommend some electrolytes in your water to help with headaches. I feel in soda water they feel even more “substantial.” Don’t worry too much about your one can; it’s not ideal but it won’t completely erase your two previous days. And if it’s what you need, whatever. It’s huge progress anyway. Next time it’ll probably be easier and you won’t need the coke.

  28. Hi. I just finished a 5 day water fast after a month of cutting out caffeine, sugar, processed carbs and alcohol. I’ve done many cleanses over 20 to amazing results, but always wanted to water fast. I followed good guidelines and had challenging, but beneficial results. The issue is coming out of the fast. First day I did veg juice, low carb smoothie and soup broth. Yum. Day 2, same but I craved a salad, but nothing is satisfying! My mouth feels chalky and my taste buds seem dormant! I usually love my salads and miso soup. Also, the other foods were disappointing even my usual healthy smoothie. Thoughts?

    1. Hi Sherri.

      My experiences coming out of a fast have always been the exact opposite—my sense of taste and appreciation of food is reinvigorated—so I can’t think of how to help. I’m sorry you’re having this reaction, though. Could your chalky mouth be a sign of dehydration? Maybe consume a bunch of fluids—or yogurt and kombucha to repopulate your gut with some good bacteria—and see if that helps.

      Also, I’m curious: How do you feel after fasting compared to after your other cleanses?

  29. Hi there!

    I’ve been doing Intermittent Fasting now for over a year. The first 6 months i lost 45 lbs, but now i’ve been on a steady plateau for quite some time, so i want to try a long term water fast now. 1 Question. Regarding social situations. How do you not eat when you’re surrounded by a dinner party, or forced to go to Sunday brunch with a grandmother that only cooks old school with lard every single week? I can see friends and family getting concerned and making fun of me when i tell them about fasting. I can’t avoid these situations and that’s mainly what’s holding me back from starting 🙁

    1. Hey Kris, If you’ve managed to prove to yourself and your family and friends that intermittent fasting works (they can’t argue with 45lbs in 6 months!), don’t you think they’d be more receptive to multi-day fasting? Either way, why not try 3 days, then maybe 5 days, so that you don’t need to skip Sunday brunch? Push come to shove, you can send me in your place. Grandma’s cooking with lard sounds delicious!

  30. Great article but I think I enjoyed reading the comments even more. You do a great job of responding without taking offense with some of the more critical commentators.

    I have a question about the water you drink. I see a lot of people recommending adding electrolytes to their water but have never seen anyone recommend drinking electrolyte water. I’m wondering if there is something I’m missing on this. Personally, electrolyte water keeps me in the bathroom every half hour so it’s not my preference when working but I figured I could add during my fast. Any reason I shouldn’t?

    1. Thanks Diana! Unless I’m missing something, there’s no difference between drinking electrolyte water and buying electrolytes, mixing them in water, and drinking that. Maybe price, I guess. But as long as the electrolyte water has very little to no calories and preferably no sweetener (since zero-cal sweetener can still simulate insulin responses and hunger hormones apparently), there’s no reason why not to. As far as peeing ever half hour, I’m not sure it’s avoidable when fasting if you’re drinking as much water as you should. If you or anyone reading this has any tips on how to retain the water better, I’m all ears.

  31. Such great info! I’m on day 4 of a 7 day fast and feeling great! Because I feel so good I am considering extending my fast to 10 days.

    I would love your input on something I can’t get good info on. Cannabis while water fasting. After all the research I have done, it seems that the only reasons it’s not recommended while fasting are that it increases appetite and also that the smoke is not recommended as it dries you out. The increased appetite has not been an issue for me at all. If anything, I think weed has helped make my fast 10 times easier. As far as smoke drying me out, I use a vaporizer which eliminates the smoke toxins that seem to be the concern. Is this anything you might have some input on? If it’s aiding my long fast, am I ok to continue using my vaporizer?

    1. That’s awesome that you’re feeling so good during your fast, Pete. Hopefully it continues to go well for you.

      I haven’t come across anything on weed while fasting. I can’t imagine smoking a vaporizer has any effects on your metabolism or digestive system, so if you don’t get munchies or feel dried out from getting high and it’s helping you with your fast, why not? But that’s just my uninformed two cents.

  32. Hi Chris. Thank you so much for all this wonderful information. I must confess I did not read through all the comments so this question might have been asked before, but how often do you fast (ie 1 week every 2 of 3 months). I have tried water fasting before but I’ve always struggled to get past day 2, but want to try again for health reasons.

    1. Hi Cherise. I try to do a 5-day fast once or twice a year, a couple more 3-day fasts, and regular 36 hour fasts. But everyone’s different. I’m fit and health-problem free so I just do it out of convenience (when Kim’s not around to cook or when I’m swamped with work), when I feel like I’m getting “addicted” to food again, and for general longevity purposes. As most people will agree, getting past day 2 is the hardest. That and the last day when you’re looking forward to food. What also helps a lot is to get accustomed to just 1-2 meals a day (no snacks) and/or to really cut out processed carbs. Hope that helps!

  33. I started the water fast before I read this and great to see all the info! I’ve done them before for 1-3 days but now I’m on day 4 and not hungry at all. At home, I eat ridiculously healthy all organic, nuts, fruits, veggies, grain, no artificial ingredients but I go out often to parties and events with catered food, and sometimes it’s hard to avoid crap food, even though I remove fried sections and empty carbohydrates (and I drink too much alcohol lol.)

    I feel so full of energy after 4 days of the water fast and not hungry at all. Is there a point when it becomes dangerous for doing it for too long? I have no desire for food! Food is starting to feel like a foreign substance. What is the point when your body starts eating itself? I’m really enjoying the benefits and extra energy and at this point, feel like I could continue for quite a while but fear permanent damage to my body. (I’m afraid to ask my doctor about this or he’ll think I have an eating disorder—I’m not overweight or anything.) Or how do you know if you’re actually developing an eating disorder? It’s starting to feel too good not eating…

    1. I sometimes ask myself if I have an eating disorder, too. And so do people close to me who can’t comprehend not eating and feeling good, not horrible, because of it. Those doubts vanish as soon as I have a bite of food after a fast and love it so much I know there’s no way I have an eating problem. From the way you describe your situation, you seem to be in a similar boat.

      As for when to stop a fast because it starts to get dangerous, the only advice I can provide is to listen to your body. When you no longer feel great, eat.

  34. I’ve been an intermittent faster for years (intentional and otherwise); recently, I completed a 24 hour fast and decided it was so easy I ate well and tanked up on supplements for 48 hours then began a 21 day fast. I made it eleven, but only for the fact it coincided with a family visit and sitting around a table being the only one not eating seemed strange especially seeing the work the cook was doing. Since my arrival home I’ve been attempting to begin another 21 day fast; for five weeks I’ve been trying to get it going and not making it past 18-24 hours. I’m in menopause on HRT and keto/low-carb with a few cheat days a month, but those cheats are mostly under 75g of carbs. Making sure to be in ketosis before beginning fast but can’t figure what is causing the roadblock. It seemed so easy the first time and worried now eating under 500 calories a day has started a starvation mode with the almost but not quite fasting; has anyone else experienced this? Can only think this is menopause related but don’t plan on giving up.

    1. I usually do one 4-5 day fast per quarter, plus maybe 10ish ad hoc 36 hr fasts per year, and two meals/day otherwise (either skipping brekkie or dinner, but maintaining at least 1500 cal/day – I’m 5’4, 130-140lbs, lots of muscle). I can’t speak specifically to menopause as I haven’t gotten there myself yet, but I have faced the same “wall” you’re facing where my body was just balking 2 days into a planned 5 day quarterly fast – and it started the quarter after I pushed through to a 7 day fast which I had not done before. I had started and failed my quarterly fast at least four times, Kept beating myself up about it (berating myself for Not having discipline etc), which that type of negative self-talk is very detrimental as all women know too well. Anyway, I made a deal with myself to just relax, not berate myself, start a 36-48hr fast, and if I felt like it, continue on, and if not, that’s fine too – would just clock the fast as a 48hr fast. I had to give myself permission to not do a long fast and short circuit the mental self shit-talking and tying it to my self worth – forcing myself was the problem and it was a kind of mental block I had to *gently* work around rather than bulldoze through. After that I resumed 4-5 day quarterly fasts with no issue, starting each one with a new openness to total fasting length.

      If it helps for motivation: the vast majority of fat lost during extended water fasting is deadly visceral fat (vs relatively harmless subcutaneous fat), which menopause triggers significant production and storage of visceral fat. So menopause is a great time to start or maintain a fasting regimen. Just be gentle with yourself. Fast with intention, but be open to the very significant health and longevity benefits of 36-48 hr fasts, too – in fact a lot of research says the the metabolic benefits of fasting drop off precipitously after 4-5 days and that there is little benefit (except weight and fat loss) to extending beyond 7 days. Also, for me I have to start the electrolytes and salt within the first 48 hours to make it through a 5-7 day fast or things get out of whack starting in days 3-4 bc I sweat TONS when I exercise (literally 3-4lbs less on the scale after a 90/minute session and I’m the ONLY person in class sweating that much!). Good luck!

  35. Thank you for this amazing article!! Really relatable and funny – currently on day 5 of a water fast and was going to break my fast later today but you’ve inspired me to continue to 7 days!! Literally covers all the basic need-to-knows about water fasting in awesome, love it! Great work, thank you 🙂

  36. Have you ever tried the master cleanse? I have a few years ago for 30 days and it was a huge success. A water fast seems more simple yet harder. I was going to start a 30 day master cleanse and then lead into a 20 day water fast because I read somewhere that it’s easier to follow through that way. However, if it’s more simple and has the same or better effects, I’m thinking of just doing a 50 day water fast. Do you have any comparisons of the two?

    1. Hey Alisa, I hadn’t heard of the master cleanse so I looked it up. It’s fasting with sweetened lemonade, teas, and salts? If it was a huge success for you (you’ve sustained the weight loss or other benefits you got from it), congrats. If the benefits were temporary, I might suggest something less-extreme than 30-50 days of anything and trying more periodic, shorter fasts that become a regular part of your lifestyle instead. All the best!

      1. Hi, thank you so much fir this awesome article. I did water fast twice already. I did that fir seven days. You’ve mentioned that we can do infused water. I just wanna know what is the best fruits i can add w/c is lowcarb. I’m planning to get back in ketosis. 🙂

        THANK YOU!

        1. Hi Maricar. Any pure infusion (i.e. where you’re not smashing the fruit to release its sugary juices) will have essentially no calories, so do whatever you think tastes best. You’ll find lots of inspiration from all the funky infused waters at hipster cafes these days!

  37. Hey! Just a few things worth noting-when doing a prolonged fast it’s so important add a teaspoon of pink sea salt to a good amount of water, the body will need the potassium and sodium. Or a multivitamin. Depriving your body completely then having a big meal to break a fast can be dangerous, something about the sudden fluctuations of mineral levels. Adding salt/multivamins eliminates the dizziness and light headedness I experienced. Also when breaking a fast, its a good rule of thumb to ease your way back in with easily digestible foods for half the amount of days you fasted for (haha I noticed your post fast feast pictured), I befeit from 3 days fasting and cure my cravings for fresh foods by juicing my fruit and chucking a bunch of good stuff in a pot and blitzing it into a soup. Otherwise if I have big meals I feel quite uncomfortable and sore right after a fast, also some people get quite sick in general, could be a lack of proper mineral intake during the fast.

    I’m no expert either but this has been my experience!

    1. Hey Bee. I hadn’t heard of any such dangers of mineral fluctuations, nor of the rule of thumb for refeeding after fasting, so thanks for sharing that info from your own experience and research. I suppose we all have different reactions to refeeding based on many factors, seeing as you say some are so sensitive to it while I, for example, can go nuts (and chocolate and sushi and fruit and sandwiches) after an extended fast to no ill effect. That said, we’re in agreement that the best approach to refeeding is to go slow, start with easily digestible foods, and progress based on how your body reacts.
      Thanks for pitching in you perspective. All the best!

  38. Excuse my generalisations BTW, I’m having a foggy fast day but there are some good googling points in there for anyone that wants to know about all the how’s and whys!

  39. Ok, I confess I did not read all the comments, although I did read some… I have been an intermittent and water faster for a long time. (Way before it became cool. Haha) I enjoyed your blog and the information and enthusiasm you provided. I tend to fast several days consecutively during the month and then do an every other day fasting schedule when I am eating. I guess I am curious if you think this is healthy, worthwhile, consistent? Also, I try to eat low carb on food days, but dang it Oreo’s are delicious. Have a good day.

    1. You’re on the Oreo diet, eh, Ashley? Haha, that’s a new one.

      With the major caveat that, like I say over and over, I’m no doctor and just sharing my experiences and what I’ve read from doctors, if eating every other day works for you (i.e. you can consistently keep it up and fit in within your lifestyle, and you feel fully energetic from getting enough fuel on feeding days… oh and it doesn’t make you crave Oreos even more) it’s fine.

  40. Great blog post! This may be a stupid question but, if I don’t have sea salt around, can I use regular table salt or even pickle juice instead??

    1. Hey Capucine. Nice name! And not a stupid question. The problem with table salt is that it’s refined to remove the trace minerals sea salt (or Himalayan salt) have that can be beneficial to you while fasting. Pickle juice is a great idea, though! For the same reasons pickle juice helps prevent cramping it can help you stay hydrated fasting.

  41. I’m starting my fast today and have a couple of questions. Wouldn’t bone broth break a fast? And if not how much can you drink? Also should I take a multivitamin if I’m doing a 5+ day fast? Thank you for the article it was great!

    1. Hey Jeremy. Some sticklers will say anything other than water will break a fast but, as I wrote, you can get almost all of fasting’s benefits while adding things like bone broth and multivitamins. Pure bone broth has very little calories and mostly minerals, so a cup a day won’t break your fast. You don’t need to take a multivitamin, but I find it helps keep me hydrated (and less light-headed). As these comments make clear, everyone’s fasting experience is different, so it’s a matter of finding what works best for you.

  42. Hi you may have mentioned this but I was too lazy to read every comment how about exercise will I have any energy to exercise? Also I’m addicted to coffee! I don’t need sugar in it and I don’t have milk can I still drink coffee and fast on water?

    1. Hey Nathan. You’re too lazy to read comments but have the initiative to exercise? Haha. Go ahead and have black coffee on your fast if you can’t live without it. And as for exercise, you might feel energetic while fasting, but when you try anything intense you’ll probably notice your energy seeps from you fast. That’s why when I fast I stick to low-intensity exercises. But some commenters have felt otherwise. See how you feel and adjust accordingly.

  43. hi Chris,
    was searching the net and bumped into your blog as I wanted to do my research work while beginning my water fast for coming nine days.

    just on day 1, not considering last meal at 8pm last night.

    your blog with such a lot of participants , with their queries and your honest replies is so very encouraging and informative.

    1st have been doing intermitent fasting since last four months and am.practically off junk food. being a vegetarian I eat more of sprouts, greens and healthy food and ahandful of nuts. definitely no refined flour or aerated drinks or coffee or sweet foods. ( sweet from fresh fruits is an exception and not exceeding 2 portions a day)
    2 nd had done a waterless fast last week and got more encouraged to do this nine day water fast with water, green tea and maybe a few herbs like fresh ginger and fresh mint.
    3 nice tip to add rock salt to the water to maintain the minerals.
    4. I average minimum of 10000 steps a day by mild jogging or cardio.

    what I would like to know is
    a. do you recommend a continuation of 10000 steps a day.
    b. I take thyroid medication. any one have experience of the affects of stopping or continuing their thyroid medication.
    c. any recommended exercises to main muscle mass as I have been reading one loses muscle mass from day 4 or 5..

    by the way my age is 59. in physically fit condition and no known health conditions except the thyroid.

    also having been losing inches by intermittent fasting but not much of weight loss.

    any pointers will be appreciated.

    1. Hey Shailesh, Sounds like you’re well-prepared for a fast. Way to go! I can’t help you at all with B. For A, definitely 10,000 steps a day should be doable while fasting. That sort of slow and easy exercise is my favorite way to stay active while fasting, too. But everyone’s different, too, so do whatever feels best. For C, Dr. Fung uses a fun analogy of your body being a train. While fasting, it’s first going to use the coal (i.e. your fat) to run the engine, and only when that runs out will you have to strip the walls of the carriage (i.e. your muscle) to burn the engine.
      If you’re losing inches but not weight, maybe you’re gaining muscle or bone density? Have you tried a DEXA scan? We shared our DEXA experiences here: https://theunconventionalroute.com/dexa-scan/.
      All the best with your fast!

      1. thanks,
        the fast was a super experience. the 9th and 10th day for me.were the toughest. lot of toxins from the body were out.
        will discuss with my doc for a dexa scan and if available in my city.
        started going to gym to do some weights and body stretching so as to maintain muscle tonality.
        gained back 2 kgs of 5 kgs lost guess expected that.
        inch loss another inch but now it’s appears to be a bit slower.
        now I average about 18500.steps a day.
        I feel a good 7 to 8 hours complete sleep helps a lot more for body to re enegise.

        thanks

  44. Won’t drinking miso soup break the fast? As it has like 35 calories per cup? Want to try it, but I’m also 2 days in and don’t want to kick myself out of a fasted state. Thanks! 🙂

    1. If you need it to keep going, do it. And if you feel bad about yourself, check out some of Valter Longo’s research on Fasting Mimicking Diets, which seem to allow people to consume hundreds of calories daily while still getting most of the benefits of fasting. A couple miso soup’s nothing compared to that!

  45. It doesn’t make any sense to claim that someone who drinks copious amounts of water for extended period of time is mostly losing water weight. If the scale is significantly lower after your fast and you have been drinking at least 64 ounces of water every day there is no way you are only losing water weight. That makes absolutely no sense. Take it from someone who has effectively lost significant amounts of weight doing water fasts and didn’t gain more than a few pounds back after I started eating again. The body doesn’t burn water for energy when it’s deprived of food for long periods of timer, it burns FAT.

    1. Hey Meg. Your organs, especially your kidneys, dump a lot of water while fasting and reabsorb it after. And drinking tons of water will just go right through you. A pound of fat is 3,500 calories, so an average metabolism will burn half that daily.

  46. hi Chris,
    I’m in the middle of my first water fast (4th day today) and simply wanted to thank you for putting this post together, really nice!
    Jacques-Olivier

  47. Glad I found this article. I’m about to put my head down after Day 1 safe in the knowledge that I’ll be whacking in some Himalayan salt with my lemon water tomorrow morning. I’m also encouraged to learn that having been on a ketogenic diet the last few weeks, and having sacked-off caffeine a few months ago, I’ll have mitigated some of the less-than-pleasant side effects of entering a multi-day fast. I think (hope!!) I’ll sleep easy now. Great article, and thanks again!

  48. Awesome article friend! So the longest I’ve made it was 8 days, with 4 5-day fasts, and quite a few 48-hour fasts (all strictly H20 with 1-2 black coffees each day).

    What I’ve noticed personally is by day 5 I’m almost passing out or falling over. I’m a big guy (ex bodybuilder) 292 pounds mostly muscle; is this why it seems so hard to pass 5 days? I’ve never tried supplementing with salt or electrolytes, will this make the difference for me? Because my heart is set on eventually regularly doing 21-day water fasts.

    If salt will help I’m all over it man, eager to hear your insight / thoughts. PS fasting has been huge for me Spiritually, and why I do it.

    1. Thanks Benjamin! I had real similar experiences when trying pure water fasts and never again with electrolytes, so there’s a good chance that could do the trick for you.

      I hadn’t thought of the term “spiritual” to describe part (or a lot) of fasting’s benefits, but I totally get you. I’m going to think about that more my next fast. Thanks for sharing.

  49. Hi, Chris. I’m Roberta.
    Quick question.
    Is it of to fast regularly? And how should it work?
    (For example, a 5 day water fast every two months would be ok?)

    1. Hi Roberta. Nice to hear from you! I can’t give you a definitive answer because A) I don’t know enough and B) It depends on you. Have you already done 5-day fasts before? I’d say it all comes down to how you feel. If you’re physically and mentally up for it and come out of each fast feeling great, go for it. Otherwise, adjust accordingly. All the best!

  50. Just another quick question – does anyone have any thoughts on wether bentonite clay would be ok to use during the water fast? As it has no calories and cannot be absorbed by the body, but is effective at leeching toxins out?

  51. I just finished my first 3 day fast after reading this guide and one thing that struck me is that hunger has a peak..as in, I felt the same level of hunger on day three as I did on day 1. In my head, I’d imagined that it would get gradually worse over the 3 days until I couldn’t take it anymore but it was actually pretty manageable as long as I was able to distract myself. Thanks for this compilation of advice and personal experience!

    1. That’s an interesting point, Adelia. I imagine that when you fast too long, to the point you’re hurting yourself, hunger may step up a level. But for most of us that’d take ages to get to. Was your hunger constant, or, in my case and that of most people I talk to, would it rise up during your typical eating hours? Congrats on your first 3-day fast, by the way!

  52. I did a thirty day fast before.
    21 days water 3 days juice, 3 days water, and 3 days juice. It was incredibly difficult getting through the water phase because I did only water.

    This time I am doing a 21 day fast but also included broth, tea, electrolytes, and some clean juicing. I feel noticeably more energized and getter overall. I’m wondering if the juicing kinda kills the fast though or not?

    Also thanks for the article. Great read.

    1. Wowzas, Jordan! If you feel more energized and better overall while fasting, and continue to feel great after while feeling/seeing benefits, I’d say great. Do what works for you. Maybe you won’t get the exact same benefits of a pure fast, but the trade off to the benefits you get from doing it your style could easily be worth it.

  53. Hi Chris, thanks for the article! I came across it on the 2nd evening of a fast brought about by an article I read on Medium. I had toothache and nasal ache and couldn’t sleep, and was just googling that and fasting, and eventually came across your article. Super helpful! I bought Dr Fung’s ebook, and have read it all now. I decided to extend for the 20 days to try and achieve a body weight reset now that I understand it better.
    I have just completed day 8, having added a stock cube cuppa at the end of the day, and removed half a cup of tomato juice and 1 cup of orange juice I was having initially, after reading Fung’s comments about fructose being an arrow to the liver. I am feeling better now than I was in the first two days, very little problem with hunger – I actually carved up a roast leg of lamb and packaged it for the freezer without eating any, a task impossible for me usually. I would have liked to eat some, but it was no trouble to resist despite the fabulous aroma. I have lost about 7kg so far, though I know about half of that is alimentary tract contents which will be added again when I recommence eating. Still, if I can do the next 12 days, which feels quite possible at present, I should make a dent in my 121 kg total original weight. I would like to get to 100kg in the next year or so, and maintain it.
    Thanks again!

    1. That’s fantastic Steve. It’s sounds like you’re a fasting master, having put yourself through the ultimate test of carving up some delicious food without giving in. I bet you licked your fingers a bit more than usual though, right? Haha. Has fasting had any effect on your nasal and tooth aches? Hopefully so. And hopefully you reach your 100kg goal. All the best!

      1. Hi Chris,
        Day 15 today, all still going well, I am 110kg this morning. The nasal and toothache has not recurred since the second night, I’ll see if it recurs next time I start a fast. I am starting to think about eating regimes when I end this fast. I am inclined to restrict carbs as much as I can, stick with meat and vegetables mostly, and maybe have lunch and dinner in an 8 hour window. Do you have any suggestions?

        1. Hi Steve. Amazing! I’d suggest not making too many changes all at once. Rather one at a time. Cutting to two meals a day would be the first step I’d suggest. For me, at least, that’s made huge changes in controlling my hunger. And it’s not so hard after fasting for so long. Cutting carbs from there (or, even easier, cutting processed foods) is then not so difficult. Or you can try all at once, but just remember not to be too hard on yourself or too strict about making exceptions since big picture you’re doing amazingly well. All the best with kicking those next 10kg!

  54. Hi Chris
    Great blog well written – about to kick off on my second 7-day fast – this time wanting to incorporate a ‘greens’ powder (vital greens) and I’m hoping you could give me your thoughts on whether that would jeopardize my transition to ketosis

    1. Hi Charles, I’m not familiar with vital greens and not much into keto so can’t say for sure. If you can, try a little bit at first to experiment, see how your ketone levels react (and how the rest of you reacts too) and go from there. All the best with 7-day fast #2!

  55. Hey Chris,

    I found this guide to be really helpful and a good reference for fasting! I’ve been playing on a fast for a while now and I know I have the dedication & drive to do it, but there’s a problem. You see, I still live with my parents (20, college student) and they believe that fasting is “torturous”.

    My question is, how would you go about fasting when living with people who do not approve of it? Moving out is not an option for me since I don’t have the money, so I’m pretty much stuck with them.

    Thanks again for the article!

    1. Hey Lewis, Haha, yeah moving out just so you can fast would be a bit extreme. If your parents force feed you at home maybe: a) Plan your fast for whenever (if ever) they go away for a couple of days, b) Go for a weekend away with some friends and fast, or c) Try to understand what your parents’ concern is so you can find some common ground and eventually get them to be o.k. with you trying at home. Maybe they’ll join too (though I doubt it, seeing as my parents, despite being open with me doing whatever “craziness” I want, would never try themselves). Here’s hoping you manage to sort something out!

  56. Hey Chris, I’m on day 15 of my water fast and I’m now starting to get really dizzy any time I get up. I believe this is due to low blood sugar, how can I raise it without breaking my fast?

    1. Hey Julia, Have you done a blood sugar test to see if that’s the cause or not? Or could it be other minerals? A bone broth may be in order. If you’re really having a tough time, eat, feel good, then fast again when your body’s ready.

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