This article is published for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as a diagnosis, treatment or as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment. Please consult a physician or other health care professional for your specific health care and/or medical needs or concerns.
What is a Water Fast?
Water fasting involves only drinking water for a certain length of time. The time fasted is up to the individual and varies based on what is trying to be achieved and how long the individual thinks he or she could healthily sustain the fast for.
This article specifically tackles to explain how to do a 3 Day Water fast and the benefits associated with it, but there are many other lengths of time people could choose to fast for. There’s a 24 hour fast, a 5 day fast, a 7 day fast, 10, 14, 15, 18… and so on (The longest recorded fast in modern times is 382 days!).
For the sake of time we won’t get into what the benefits of other fasts are, but know that there are other options and a 3-Day Water Fast is only one of them.
3 Benefits of a 3-Day Water Fast:
1. Weight Loss
This one is obvious. If you don’t eat for three days you’re bound to lose weight, but did you know that when you are in a fasted state you have the potential to lose more fat than if you were non-fasted?
When you fast, your body starts to deplete its glycogen stores in the body to help give you fuel and energy. Once these glycogen stores have been depleted, your body needs to turn to some other energy source to help give you fuel. It takes about 14 to 20 hours to deplete these glycogen stores, but after it’s depleted, where does your body turn to for energy? If you guessed adipose tissue, you are correct! Adipose tissue is fat that is stored in the body. After 14 to 20 hours your body enters a state of ketosis, where it burns fat for fuel and releases ketones in the body.
The great thing about a 3 Day Water Fast is that you WILL NOT lose muscle mass. Losing muscle mass could be a big concern for bodybuilders or for people who have been working hard to gain muscle in the gym. When fasted your body releases a ton of HGH (human growth hormone) and HGH is responsible for maintaining and building lean muscle mass. The boost in HGH in a 3 Day Water Fast will not waver and because of this you will not lose any muscle mass. I can confirm this by my own experiences with a 3 Day Water Fast.
2. Regenerate Immune and Digestive System
When your body is in a fasted state, it eventually reaches a state of autophagy. Autophagy causes the body to digest itself and helps to remove metabolic waste from cells and tissues. While self-digestion may sound scary and problematic, it’s important to realize that our bodies were designed to be extremely intelligent and that autophagy will first target cells that are weak or sick before ever going after healthy ones.
After fasting for an extended period of time white blood cell counts start to lower because your body wants to conserve and create energy. The extended fast causes autophagy to start to self-digest and recycle old and damaged immune cells to assist in creating more energy stores. This complex process stimulates stem cell activation which helps to create new white blood cells and regenerates the health of our immune and digestive system.
Although your immune and digestive system might not be brand spanking new after a 3 Day Water-Fast, it will definitely be healthier and stronger than before you began.
3. Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual Reset
While the physical part has been covered thoroughly so far in this article, not much has been said about the emotional and spiritual benefits of fasting for a prolonged period of time.
I have found through my own experiences that fasting forces you to come face to face with your emotional demons. Prolonged fasting brings up old emotions stored in the body and sheds light on what it is that you are truly feeling inside. Old emotions that you may have tucked away or tried to hide might bubble up to the surface and although it can be uncomfortable and painful to deal with, it feels much better once they have passed and have gotten rid of from your system. I have found that I am a lot more emotionally stable and centered after every prolonged fast.
With the release of those emotional demons comes a level of clarity and calm. You start to appreciate the little things like having a bed to rest in or having a cold glass of water to drink. Nature becomes more vibrant and a deeper sense of universal connection with the world is felt while fasted. Energetically your mind vibrates at a different frequency, which makes it easier to put you in touch with the universal mind and universal consciousness, which can make fasting an amazing spiritual experience. Unfortunately you can’t force this to happen and it won't happen for everybody who fasts, but if it does happen, be grateful and enjoy it!
How to do a 3 Day Water Fast
Although you could just decide to start the 3 Day Water Fast and tackle it immediately after a long weekend of binging or drinking (I’m guilty of doing this), it’s substantially better to prepare for it beforehand. If you never fasted before it might be better to do a few 24 hour water fasts to get used to the feeling of fasting.
- Switch to a healthier diet full of organic vegetables and fruits.
- Reduce the amount of meat you’re currently eating
- Eliminate all other liquids besides water, coffee, and tea from your diet
- Exercise regularly – combining strength training with cardiovascular exercise.
- Visit a Sauna or Steam room and sweat out some toxins.
- Get a massage to remove tension or stress.
- Educate yourself about what fasting is and what fasting isn’t.
- Talk to people who have completed extended fasts to give you a sense of confidence and security
- Meditate for 10 minutes daily to center yourself.
- Set up your environment to be comfortable and relaxing during your 3-Day Fast.
- Talk to friends and arrange for some to visit and spend time with you to make your fast less boring.
- Buy a new book, some movies, or a new video game to keep yourself entertained during your fast.
2. How to Start
Starting the fast is simple. Just simply stop eating food and only drink water. Because this is all that it takes, what matters is the timing of when you decide to start your fast.
If you want to eat on the first day you decide to fast, eat a healthy and nutritious breakfast and fast for the rest of the day. If you finished your breakfast at 10 am on Monday, on Tuesday at 10 am you would be 24 hours into your fast. Starting in the morning is a great option because the first 24 hours of the fast are the hardest and because you ate in the morning, mentally, you’ll feel as if you’re not even fasting. The most beneficial and hardest part of the first 24 hours fast will also occur when you’re sleeping, so most likely you’ll wake up the next day with no hunger at all!
Another option is to start at night. You could eat an extra filling but nutritious meal the night before and start the beginning of your fast in your sleep. If you finished dinner at 9 pm on a Friday, then on Saturday at 9 pm you would be 24 hours into your fast. Personally I love this option because of one simple thing, I wake up from a good nights rest already feeling full! Starting at night is a great option for those who already have experience with fasting or do intermittent fasting currently. The added benefit is that once you complete your 72 hours fast, you could decide to fast for another 8 to 12 hours just by going to sleep!
There are many other options such as starting in the afternoon or the middle of the night. It doesn’t matter when you decide to start, all that matters is that it works for you and you commit to the process.
3. What to Avoid:
To get the most benefits out of your 3 Day Water Fast you’re going to want to avoid any stimulants such as caffeine or any harmful substances such tobacco, alcohol, or any drug. You can drink coffee, tea, or zero calorie drinks in your fast if wanted, but you might not experience all the regenerative benefits of the fast if you do so. If your only goal is weight loss, then it wouldn't matter if you decided to include the stuff mentioned above.
The first day you can exercise normally, but after that limit your exercise to conserve your energy. Light exercise such as walking or a restorative yoga class could be beneficial, but anything with high intensity should be avoided, especially as you move past the half way mark.
Another thing to avoid is places where there could be the temptation to eat. Going with your friends to a buffet, visiting your grandma who always tries to get you to eat, and going out to a grocery store might not be the best idea.
Chances are a lot of your friends and family won’t understand why you’re doing this and do not think it’s healthy or possible to fast for that long, so they will try to talk you out of it. Because of this, it’s best to only hang out with people who believe in what you’re doing and who will support you along your journey.
72 Hours Done… What’s Next?:
Congratulations! You've just finished your 3 Day Water Fast. You’ve accomplished something extraordinary and you should reward yourself…. but with what? While eating a huge bowl of ice cream, drinking a large cup of coffee, or eating an entire large pizza to yourself might sound appealing (I’m guilty of doing this all in one sitting), you’re going to want to avoid it and break your fast responsibly and maturely.
How to Break Your 3 Day Water Fast:
After not eating for three days, you’re probably going to feel excited and anxious to eat again, but since you just detoxed your body and gave your digestion system a rest, it’s best to introduce food slowly back into your diet.
The best foods to eat when breaking your fast are water-dense fruits, vegetables, or juices. My favorite food to eat when breaking a long fast is watermelon. It’s mostly water, taste great and is nutritious and easy to digest. You could choose to drink juice instead, which is a great option, but you’re going to want to avoid any juice that has added sugar. No matter what option you choose, start slow. Whatever you decided to break your fast with is more than likely going to stimulate your digestive system and make you feel like you need to use the restroom.
After water-dense fruits or vegetables, the next best thing is to eat some pro-biotic yogurt. It’s easy to eat, light, and since your taste buds have had a break from anything sweet it’ll probably taste amazing! From here slowly start to introduce dense foods back into your diet, bringing meat and complex carbs back in your diet last.
Avoiding Weight Gain:
Now that you’ve finished your 3 Day Water Fast and you have introduced food back into your life, what should you do?
More than likely you’ve lost a couple of pounds or maybe more and if that was your intention you’re going to want to keep that weight off. If you weren’t eating entirely healthy before the fast, then you should try to avoid falling back into your old eating patterns. That means avoiding processed and greasy foods and adopting a more nutritious diet filled with organic fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and lean meat such as turkey, fish, or chicken.
Reintroduce exercise back into your regimen to help you keep the weight off. Start off exercising lightly for the first few days after your fast. After those first few days, you can return to exercising at the intensity level you desire.
I hope you enjoyed this article and that it was beneficial for you. If you’re interested, check out the videos below which documents some of my various Water Fasts
- Coach K