Updated: Feb 3
Fasting has become a hot topic of discussion as new science and data begin to emerge about the impressive benefits. My journey down the fasting rabbit hole began several years ago when I heard about the intermittent fasting technique (I will dive deeper into IF later) which eventually lead me into this 5 day water only fast. My fiancé Addie and I have been researching fasting protocols and have wanted to partake in a longer fast for a while now. Last year I gained an affiliation with Kion and every year they run an annual "Fasting Challenge". January is the perfect time to take on an extended fast with it being winter and plus we are in the middle of a pandemic and people are mostly still chillin' at home. The timing aligned with me perfectly!
In this article, you will see a day-to-day map of my experience with the 5 day water fast along with daily statistics of my bodies recovery through my Whoop fitness and recovery tracker.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is not intended to replace consultation with a qualified medical professional. You should seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. The content provided is not intended to be relied upon for medical diagnosis or treatment.
There are several ways to fast, and everyone seems to have their own opinion about fasting in general, so what works for me might no work for you. The experience of fasting will draw you closer to your body, so if you are disconnected with your body (i.e. you eat GMO foods, drink tap water and soft drinks, and have imbalanced hormones) you may want to build your resilience before going into such a hardcore reset/detox. As you’ll learn, the process of picking the best fast for you simply requires understanding your goal for fasting, and how different methods can support that goal.
What Is Fasting?
Fasting has been around since the dawn of mankind, actually. A lot of the major world religions have a spiritual fasting component to them. Animals have been known to fast as well, so I suppose it's been around long before then! Fasting involves controlled, voluntary abstinence from caloric intake to achieve a physical, mental, or spiritual outcome. Our ancestors would regularly go days or even weeks without food. As a result, humans have evolved specific adaptations to survive, and even thrive, during periods of famine. The truth is, our physiology functions quite well in a fasted state. And it makes sense why: in the absence of food, our timing of our next meal is uncertain, our biological systems need to operate efficiently, and our brain and body need to function optimally. A fasted state primed us to be on our physiological “A Game” because our survival depended on it.
Intermittent fasting (IF) is where it all started for me and it has gained a lot of popularity over the last few years. One of the first times I heard about it in detail (besides internet bro forums) was from a podcast with Dr. Rhonda Patrick preaching about IF benefits. Intermittent fasting is restricting your eating to a minimum of 12 hour window each day. So at least 12 hours of the day with NOTHING but water. I tend to swing towards the fasting window of 18-19 hours and eating for the next 6 hours. A typical day would look like me eating my first meal at 12:00pm and last meal at around 8:00pm, equaling a 16:8 window. I intermittent fast often and I also practice a 24 hour fast once or twice a month as well. Last July I fasted for 52 hours but was shooting for My will-power was lacking.
I highly suggest getting your body used to IF windows before attempting anything longer than a 24 hour fasting period; this helps your body adapt to hormone sensitivity and longer fasting periods without insulin spikes (like when you consume anything other than water). One sad note about fasting is that the research is mostly done on able men and rodent models. Fasting research is rarely done on women. There is hardly any research on the effects of fasting and the different stages of women's menstrual cycle. The reason why Addie chose not to do this 5 day water only fast is because she was nearing the end of her luteal phase (right before menstruation begins). Both the luteal and menstrual phases are times where the body needs energy and nutrients required to conceive, grow, and nurture a child (regardless of conception intentions). We call it "FEED THE BLEED" time lol. If you are a female and are interested in fasting, the studies suggest that the follicular cycle is the best time to do so. Also, a quick note to the fellas that might be reading this: Do you know the 4 phases of a woman's cycle? Do you understand what their needs are in each one? Do want to learn more? READ THIS BOOK! The Fifth Vital Sign.
Also, here is a great blog post from Kion on fasting for women: The Complete Guide to Fasting for Women Part 1.
BEGINNER: Start with a 12-14 hour daily fast.
INTERMEDIATE: Extend fasting window to 16-18 hours and eat in an 6-8 hour window.
ADVANCED: Extend fasting window to 20-22 hours and eat one meal per day in a 2-4 hour window. This does not need to be done every day in my opinion.
Health Pro Tip
It is not recommended to combine IF with calorie restriction, as the combination can negatively affect hormones. To keep hormones balanced, be sure to consume a normal day’s worth of calories during your feeding window.
Benefits of Fasting
I could write for days on the benefits of what fasting can do for the body, the types of different fasts, and so on and so forth, but I'll keep it short and sweet with some of the benefits that you can dive deeper into through links at the bottom of this article.