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.
Without going into detail, here are some bullet points on what the research says about the powerful health benefits of fasting:
Improving Self-Control & Willpower (more later)
With so many beneficial reasons to fasting techniques, it's no surprise that so many people want to try it out.
I'm going to share some details throughout my 5 days of only drinking water, but first I want to emphasize on what my diet and lifestyle looked like before taking on such a large challenge. I eat organic foods about 90% of the time. I eat a solid amount of vegetables, fruit, grass-fed red meat, wild fish (never farmed), organic pasture raised chicken with no added hormones or antibiotics, and I drink organic coffee amongst other beverages that are naturally sweetened. Currently I do eat bread but it's sourdough bread baked fresh by hand at Herban Market, and when I do eat my favorite chips or pretzels they are canola oil free and derived from decent ingredients. We don't eat out unless it's from Herban Market where everything is non-gmo and organically sourced (cooked in olive oil). I don't eat any refined sugars, pasteurized/homogenized dairy, and I rarely eat foods containig gluten. I typically have about 2-3 glasses of red wine every other week but since late December 2020 I have had zero alcohol. I have micro-dosed psilocybin off and on for the last few months but I haven't had any since December as well. I do take supplements that are completely natural and never artificial. Those range from vitamin D, K3, C, Zinc, and Magnesium -- all taken when my body needs it. I use Kion's organic coffee, BCAA's, and their joint formula (Kion Flex). I occasionally take Onnit's Alpha Brain when I need extra focus, New Mood when I want to relax more, and Shroom Tech for natural pre-workout energy.
I workout/move my body roughly 5-6 times a week which could range anywhere from doing Crossfit, weightlifting, biking, yoga, hiking, or kettlebell flows at home. I generally go to bed at around 10:30pm and get 8 hours of sleep per night. I am aware of my exposure to EMF's in which I think is currently too high, but I still wear blue blocking glasses, use downtime for devices, and I try to sleep without electronics in the room or I turn them on airplane mode. All of the products I put onto my skin (toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, any soaps & cleaners, oils etc.) are never artificial and always derived of 100% organic natural ingredients. I rarely need to wear deodorant but when I do, it is always free of synthetic fragrances, parabens, sulfates, and all of that other bullshit. With that being said, if you are currently consuming pizzas, cokes or any soft drinks, refined sugars, toxic cooking oils, lots of alcohol, and using conventional body products - I would SERIOUSLY consider you overhauling and changing up your lifestyle before attempting to try longer period fasts. The more toxins that you currently ingest will directly reflect the state of your health going into the fast.
Intention - an aim that guides action, an objective. Why you do what you do. I cannot emphasize this section enough. When it comes to fasting, it can get a bit dangerous when it comes to intention. If you are fasting to "loose weight" or look good in the mirror, I would suggest you try some deeper self-work before taking on the journey of fasting techniques. Like I mentioned earlier, fasting can be deeply healing and it has been around for thousands of years, but having an unhealthy relationship with your self, food, drugs, alcohol, or any other substances should be addressed first.
I set my intention to enjoy a thorough cleanse of my gut and my body while gaining all of benefits mentioned above. I also wanted to test my mental toughness and will-power. I'm not saying I wanted to fast for 5 days for my ego's sake, but to really experiment on how healthy I REALLY am!
Protocol & Preparation
Kion hosted the 5 Day Fasting Challenge from January 11th, 2021 to January 15th, 2021. I had planned on attempting the entire 5 days and to only consume spring water that is chock full of trace mineral and straight from the earth. I honestly did not do my due diligence to prep for 5 days of fasting, and I did not think I was capable of making it the whole way. If you are about to embark on a multi-day fast, there are a few things you should prepare your body and mind for.
Here are a few small shifts you should make in order to prepare for a multi-day fast (1 week prior):
Remove Inflammatory Foods. If you have not yet made the lifestyle changes I mentioned earlier, then please do so before going further. Removing foods like bread, crackers, cookies, cokes, sugar, and alcohol will allow your blood sugar to stabilize, reduce your cravings, and induce a more natural stream of energy.
Limit Carbohydrate Consumption.
I personally did not limit my carbohydrates because I was training full time and needed energy and fuel for growth. Limiting carbs before your fast can help shift your body away from relying on glucose from carbohydrates, and boost you into a ketogenic state with more ease (more on that later).
Start Restricting Your Feeding Window
As I mentioned previously, if you have never attempted a fast, do not embark on anything longer than 24 hours for your firs extended fast. EASE INTO IT with smaller daily feeding windows.
Have A Water Source Pre-Determined
NEVER DRINK TAP WATER! Especially if you are fasting. In short, tap water contains neurotoxins, metals, and chlorine that destroys healthy gut bacteria. Think about it, your stomach and gut are undergoing a serious repair during a fast... not the time to be exposing it to toxins. I drank Mountain Valley Spring Water for the majority of my fast and a little bit of alkalized water that I filled up at Whole Foods. Also, your little refrigerator water filter is shit so please don't use that either. That isn't anything close to filtered water.
MY DAILY EXPERIENCE
I am going to provide you with my Whoop statistics on my sleep performance, recovery, and other viable factors with my body that I kept track with across the 5 days. If you have any questions about these statistics, please do not hesitate to comment below or email me. Scroll through each day of statistics by clicking the arrow left or right in the pictures.
Day 0: Sunday 1/10/21
Finished dinner around 5pm which is no where close to my normal schedule, but since I wanted to break my fast earlier on day 5 I chose to stop eating at this time. However, this is a normal time we would stop eating when we fast for 24 hours.
Honestly was not feeling confident in going the full 5 days.
Day 1: Monday 1/11/21
I would start a typical Monday by waking up around 8:00am, scrape my tongue, oil pull (with coconut oil) for 12 minutes, brush my teeth, drink lemon + sea salt water, make a pour over coffee, and read for about 30 minutes. My workout schedule usually ranges from around 3:00-5:30pm so I would have typically eaten a few meals before hand. When you take on a larger block fast you can workout the first day to deplete your glycogen stores. After day one it's ZERO to minimal activity for the rest of the fast.
Drank water with a pinch of Celtic Seal Salt to hydrate and get some minerals in upon awakening. I know that my day will become more active as I planned on working out and coaching later on. I stayed home and worked on the computer to rest up.
I mentioned that I typically IF for 16 hours so right about now is when I would be breaking it. No real signs of hunger year.
I'm off to the gym. I attended the 4:30pm CrossFit class and only did the olympic lifting session during the first 30 minutes (which felt really strong). By this point I was around 24 hours fasted and did not want to over exert myself. I hopped on the bike and just slowly pedaled until time to coach.
Coaching and starting to feel slightly hungry. I have not fasted for 24 hours and then worked out/coached, but one thing I did notice was that I felt incredibly sharp in the mind and my energy was naturally high. Felt REALLY good.. surprisingly good.
Coaching my last class of the night and the week. Felt energized and overall clear headed. Natural energy from my body switching over from glucose to ketones! I haven't felt this type of assertiveness ever. Not even on Alpha Brain or Adderall lol.
I'm hungry as hell. The hormone Ghrelin (hunger hormone) is what turns your appetite on. Leptin does the opposite. Ghrelin levels fall after eating and since I haven't eaten, it's spiked for me at this point.
In bed reading my book and attempting to sleep.
Weight: 193 lbs. I am only sharing as reference. Not for body composition because I give 0 F's about that. My strain for the day was 15.1 which is fairly low considering most Monday's are around 18+. Since I took it easy on working out and coaching I stood below the normal range of my daily strain. Ghrelin output will decrease every 24 hours into the fast so I'm telling myself to hang in there!
Day 2: Tuesday 1/12/21
Officially out of bed, scraped my tongue, brushed my teeth with activated charcoal toothpaste, and had a glass of water with a pinch of sea salt. Woke up several times throughout the night to pee, because I drank a lot of water to help with initial hunger cravings - it literally goes right through you. I slept well overall at 8 hours and 18 minutes.
15 minute meditation in the sun on my balcony. Meditating is enhanced during longer fating periods I've come to find out. It felt similar to my experience with micro-dosing psilocybin and meditating.
On liter number two for the day. Energy is up but I'm starting to feel a bit light headed and much weaker.
I've been in hyper focus mode as Addie and I revamped my website and combined forces to create the Stay Human Project in which we worked on for the majority of the fast. Feeling good overall. Still a bit weak but nothing I haven't experienced when fasting for this long. Took a shower and did not use any body products whatsoever. I wanted my body to have a rest from overall processing substances that go in and on my body.
Watching Addie cook and really missing food. Will-power to the max lol. We started the Mandalorian a few days ago so binging on Netflix is a wonderful distraction.
I'm in bed reading The Overstory and trying to make myself sleepy which is tough for me when fasting.
No activity and worked from the apartment for the majority of the day. In the morning I weighed in at 189.4.
Day 3: Wednesday 1/13/21
I finally get so sleep.
Officially out of bed and completed my morning routine. Not feeling so great.. I slept for less than 7 hours and I feel it. I was up peeing multiple times throughout the night and had trouble going back to sleep each time. I'll show my Whoop stats from my REM sleep below.
Jumped on our mini trampoline for a few minutes to engage my lymphatic system which is part of the circulatory system and the immune system. This technique works wonders for the body!
Tested my ketone levels with a pee strip that I honestly couldn't read accurately. Check the photo down below in my stats to see where I was. Maybe comment and let me know if it is an accurate measure..?
Addie and I had a meeting at a car dealership with a salesperson. I was really salty about going because I was in such a weak state and wanted zero social interactions or activity. I still went and noticed I was really sharp in the mind during conversation. I realized throughout this fast that I could handle conversations so much easier.
I journaled that my cognitive clarity was maxed out and I was on a HUGE natural high lol.
Not making ANY social commitments whatsoever is KEY, and really taking it day by day. I’ve officially been fasting for 60+ hours which feels absolutely f'n crazy and I'm pretty stoked to have passed the halfway mark.
Ghrelin was ramped up and feeling quite hungry. It is fascinating that I'm not as hungry early in the day as opposed to later afternoon/night. I'm still feeling weak af but still good to go. At this point it's really all mental not physical. I'm looking forward to eating again and contemplating how I will break my fast.
I'm not trying to get too caught up in these stats, but it is a great way of keeping track of my body while going through something so strenuous -just as with training. You can see my HRV bottoming out, my RHR as risen, and overall sleep was off in slide #1. Slide #2 shows my HRV over the last few days and how much it decreased. Slide #3 is my sleep and in red is my REM stages which all looks pretty irregular. Slide #4 is my ketone urine strip which seems to be at moderate to large (?). And slide #5 is a brief picture indicating the physiological changes happening inside my body (zerofasting.com).
Day 4: Thursday 1/14/21
I woke up to pee and couldn't go back to sleep until a little after 5:00am.
I'm up and going through my block fasting morning routine: tongue scraping, brushing teeth (activated charcoal toothpaste), and having a glass of spring water + pinch of sea salt. I slept much better and feel good upon waking. I'm amped to only have one more day and then I get to eat FOOOOD!
My body is experiencing weakness and feeling symptoms of what most call the "keto flu". Health.Harvard.edu has an article stating that they "really don't know why people feel so bad after this dietary change", but in my opinion it basically boils down to what is called the Herxheimer Reaction (feeling worse before feeling better). This reaction occurs when the body is detoxifying and the released toxins either exacerbate the symptoms being treated or create their own symptoms. The important thing to note is that worsening symptoms do not indicate failure of the treatment in question; in fact, usually just the opposite.
My body and breath also started to smell and taste WAY different. This is also a reaction to my body shedding the toxins from within. I knew about these reactions before going into this fast and was truly stoked to smell and taste my body ridding itself of these toxins.
WARNING: In the next few sentences I'm going to discuss an interesting bowel movement because it's worth noting along with these other reactions my body is going through. So be warned and skip on to the next hour time stamp if you must! I think I had a bowel movement once on Monday, but I'm not sure about Tuesday or Wednesday. Thursday was different... I had a movement that was straight up liquid but after I examined it (because who wouldn't...right?), I noticed it was more like bile than anything. That's as close as I can relate to what it looked like. Again, I think it was related to the toxins being excreted out through my intestines. This happened a few times throughout the day and into the weekend after I began eating again.
I've been really focused and productive with a few tasks. I created this elaborate van build-out spreadsheet that took a couple of hours but I felt super focused while creating it. The concentration and clear headedness is insane!! I feel like food is just a distraction sometimes.. we just eat when we're bored or don't want to truly sit with and focus on the tasks at hand. I posted an Instagram questionnaire asking people what they would eat after 5 days of only water. Of course this is never the correct way to break - it's just funny as hell what people responded with (see pic)!
Dry brushed my body. This technique helps stimulate the lymphatic system, exfoliate the skin, help rid the body of toxins, and increase circulation and energy. I took a shower with no products shortly after.
This was by far the most mentally and physically challenging night out of the 5 days. I wanted to eat something really bad after watching Addie cook some organic duck and sweet potato fries. I even went to the kitchen and got out my bone broth to heat up, but I happened to see a few encouraging messages from fellow fasters and friends cheering me on through Instagram to keep going.. so I stopped myself. It's not like I was going against my bodies true nature of needing/wanting to eat. It was pure mental.
Slight increase in my HRV, decrease in RHR, and better sleep overall.
Day 5: Friday 1/15/21
Once again, I woke up to pee and had a lot of trouble falling back to sleep. When I would lay down to try and sleep I could feel my heart beating and pulsating throughout my body. This was something I started to notice around day 3 and into day 5. It was a legitimate annoyance to try and fall asleep while feeling my heart beating out of my chest. I could 100% feel it on the nights where my RHR was up by 10 bpm. I believe this is because my body has shifted from a parasympathetic state and into a sympathetic state (flight or fight / feast or famine). Like my body is saying "BRO! When the F are we eating?! FIND FOOD!"... but nevertheless, I finally got back to sleep around 5:30am.
I'm up and EXCITED AF TO EAT TODAY! Addie kept telling me she was blown away that I made it this far and honestly I was too. I felt pretty damn weak upon awakening and at this point into the fast there is no way I could attempt anything other than walking from point A to point B. If I had to do anything physical I would be totally wrecked. Social settings would be ok to handle but I would still prefer to be chillin at home.
MY ENERGY IS STROOONG! I'm planning on how I will break my fast and creating my shopping list for everything I'll need later. I set my Brothers Chicken Bone Broth out to thaw for my soup later on. Our friends in Franklin, TN make/sell the broth locally (so damn good!). While making my grocery list, I thought about how crazy it was that when I went into the grocery store to resupply my water I wasn't remotely tempted to eat anything with being surrounded by all of the foods and smells. Like I had adopted a new super power!
Headed to the grocery store to complete the greatest haul of organic goodness ever (see pic). At this point I'm feeling incredible about the 5 day fast and really looking forward to what the next fast brings. You guys can tag along with the Stay Human community too! T-minus 3 hours until I break the 5 day fast!
In order to properly break my fast, I wanted to get my digestive system kick started with a few necessary protocols. First, I took 6 squirts of Digestive Enzymes from Organic Olivia straight to the tongue. This basically primes your body for digestion by stimulating production of digestive enzymes, bile salts, and stomach acids. You want to wait about 15-20 minutes before actually eating after taking this product. Secondly, I took a Gut Chek shot from KOR that has apple cider vinegar which aids in digestion as well. Lastly, I made a Celtic Sea Salt + lemon water cocktail.
5:15pm TIME TO BREAK THE FAAASSSTT!
When you resume eating after a fast, healthy stem cell production is stimulated to replace the damaged cells that have been removed during the fast. You’ve given your body the chance to clean up old, defective cells, and now it’s primed and ready to receive the nutrients it needs to rebuild and regenerate.
HUGE KEY: The most important aspect to a longer period fast is how you break it. As tempting as it might be to gorge out on a meal the best thing you can do for your body is too SLOWLY eat cooked and fermented foods. My bone brother consisted of carrots, celery, a leftover apple/kale/and cranberries, thyme, and tarragon. I had some blue berries with GT's Cocoyo living yogurt (billions of probiotics), a bowl of Wildbrine Organic Kraut, and an avocado.
This meal was absolutely amazing and it was incredibly simple to create! Food is such a privilege and I 100% felt more gratitude towards the meal in front of me after 5 days of not eating. Even when I was fasting I felt such a missed connection without eating. I love that I can become closer to the life force that food brings through block fasting. Now, it's time to rebuild and repopulate my but and micro-biome, and slowly ease back into my regular diet.
As you can tell by my stats, my body was feeling the strain from the fast which is normal. I'm detoxing a ton of shit from my body! I am going to add my Whoop stats from the first and second day after I started eating again. Notice how I recovered really well after intaking food again. 51% recovered Saturday and 82% recovered on Sunday.
Lessons and Takeaways I Will Implement Moving Forward
For starters, I am completely blown away that I made it the full 5 days. Addie might be more shocked than I am considering she was eating in front of me the entire time and I had no temptation to break. The mental game is the most absolute toughest part of fasting, but that's where your intention comes in. Stay focused on how well you will feel by the end of the block fast! Around day 4 I began to feel a different connection and intuition with my body that I didn't have before. I cannot recommend longer block fasts enough. This stuff is important guys - it's in our DNA!
From here on out I am going to implement shorter weekly or (at best) bi-weekly 24 hour fasts to keep my body balanced. It's important to give your body a break from constantly digesting and processing foods and substances. Side note on the 10lbs I lost during the fast. It was mostly all water weight which I gained right back - I went from 194'ish lbs to 185 and gained it all back within a few days. Do not fast for weight loss purposes, you will only be disappointed once it comes back. Fuck the scale!
One of the main reasons why I made it all the way through was because of the support from the Kion community that completed the fast right alongside me. People completed their own style of fasts ranging from IF, liquid caloric fasting, and 1-5 days of water fasting (finding what works best for them). I also had a solid amount of support and encouragement through friends on Instagram. The key here is COMMUNITY! Having a friend, partner, or ANYONE that's willing to take on the challenge with you is a big help. I plan on organizing at least two 5 day fasts a year and creating a supportive community through Stay Human Project. So stay connected with us through our news letters or our social media channels!
That's all I got folks! Remember to start slow, tune into your body, and be clear on your intention. Fasting is a practice, which means there’s no right or wrong way to do it. Simply find a style that works for you, try it out, and see how you feel. Please comment your own fasting experiences below!
During the 2021 Kion Fasting Challenge, the Kion team released a ton of additional resources. I shared a few below for more education on fasting.