5 Day Water Fast: My Experience and What To Expect
Updated: Feb 3, 2021
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.