Water Fasting

Orange Lily“Everyone can perform magic, everyone can reach his goals, if he is able to think, if he is able to wait, if he is able to fast.” Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

Okay Hermann Hesse, I can think, I can wait, now lets see if I can fast to achieve my goals.  When you’re not thinking about food, preparing food, or eating it, you have a lot more time to put toward your goals.  I researched water fasting on the world-wide web and encountered mixed reviews.  Some people considered water fasting to be extreme and dangerous while others thought it was highly beneficial.  Many reported life-changing and miraculous results.  For the most part, water fasting appears to be beneficial and is something people have done for thousands of years.

“Fasting is an exceptionally ancient, and powerful, approach to healing many common disease conditions. It allows the body to rest, detoxify, and to heal. During fasting, the body moves into the same kind of detoxification cycle that it normally enters during sleep. It uses its energy during a fast, not for digesting food, but for cleansing the body of accumulated toxins and healing any parts of it that are ill. As a fast progresses the body consumes everything that it can that is not essential to bodily functioning. This includes bacteria, viruses, fibroid tumors, waste products in the blood, any build up around the joints, and stored fat. The historical record indicates that human beings are evolutionarily designed to fast. It is an incredibly safe approach to healing and the body knows how to do it very well.”   Stephen Harrod Buhner, Gaian Studies

To prepare for a water fast, it’s recommended that you quit smoking, stop eating things like meat, sugar, and processed foods. It’s also suggested that you build-up your level of fitness. Once you’re ready to fast, it’s suggested that you spend a week eating only fruits and vegetables plus lots of water, gradually decreasing the size of your meals.  After a week, drink only water.

When I tried several days on water alone, I grew weak, dizzy and began seeing stars. Adding daily rations of electrolytes to my water was instantly energizing. Drinking plenty of water avoids dehydration, and taking supplemental electrolytes: sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphate, and magnesium, balances fluid levels and prevents something called refeeding syndrome, a fatal condition prompted by a sudden shift from ketosis to carbohydrates.  You need large quantities of electrolytes to consume carbohydrates. If your electrolytes are depleted, the shift is deadly.  You can make your own electrolytes (1/8 t salt, ¼ cup lemon juice, 2 cups water).  However, purchasing electrolyte supplements might ensure you’re getting all the minerals you require.

In the first stage of a water fast, the body consumes glucose from your daily food consumption. In the second stage, when you don’t eat for 4-8 hours, the body consumes glycogen from your liver, converting via Glycogenolysis. In the third stage, the body absorbs energy first from glucose, then protein, then finally fats which is why your body absorbs energy from glycogen in muscle after it finishes burning glycogen in the liver. This process continues for a few days until the body moves into ketosis. The fourth stage occurs when your body decides to stop consuming muscle, vital for survival and switches to ketosis, where it begins to burns fat. The body switches to fat as its energy source. Fat is converted into ketone which can be used for energy until there are no more fat reserves left.

Each pound of fat holds 3,500 calories. A daily energy expenditure is generally 1,500 to 2,000 calories.  People carrying more fat have more energy to burn.  They can stay on a water fast for longer periods of time before moving on to the fifth stage, which is starvation, leading to death. Everything depends upon your body weight, and your percentage of fat, and your condition of physical health and fitness.

In stage five, starvation occurs when your fat reserves run out and the body draws energy from the protein in your muscles and organs. This is highly dangerous and can lead to death but it’s also rare.  At this stage, sharp food cravings indicate it’s time to start eating again.

Fasting for 1 day or 3 days to reach ketosis is just the beginning of a water fast. Fasting on water past 3 days puts your body goes into ketosis, which burns fat and also processes toxins, which results in a general detox of your entire system.
The goal is to achieve the true detoxification benefits from burning your stored fat cells.  Some people fast for anywhere from 10, 21 to 40 days.

If you choose to fast, do extensive research first.  There are also fasting centers where experienced professionals supervise the process.  Professional supervision is highly recommended.

It would be amazing if I lasted 21 days, but I’m taking it just one day at a time.  Whatever your goal, I wish you great success in achieving it!

Elizabeth Rose