Have you experienced the health benefits of drinking more water? Such as more energy, clear focus, and better digestion? My husband took it a step further and he did a water fast for 10 DAYS! Want to lose weight? Curious what you can drink or eat? And how to safely reintroduce food again? Here is everything you need to know about water fasting!
Water fasting is a set period of time when a person eats no food, and drinks only water. Most people water fast to help detoxify from processed foods, sugar & caffeine in the diet, increased mental clarity, and to give the digestive system a rest.
Note: This is OUR personal story about water fasting. We’re not doctors and have never claimed to be. In no way, shape, or form are we stating that water fasting will cure anything. You should always check with your doctor before embarking on an extended fast, especially if you’re taking any medication!
Reasons to Fast
There are several ways to fast, but my husband chose water fasting for two main reasons:
- To detoxify. Water fasts are generally the quickest way to detoxify. Some even consider this the only “real” way to detoxify your body and bring it back in check.
- Water fasts are the most difficult type of fast. He figured if he could go ten days on water alone, all future fasts of juice or smoothies would be easy in comparison!
- Weight Loss. Although my husband doesn’t struggle with weight loss, many people choose to water fast to shed a few pounds. My personal opinion is I don’t recommend water fasting for weight loss because it’s not a long-term solution. Here’s why:
- Once you start eating again, the weight will likely come back
- AND since the reasons for water fasting aren’t health-based, you’re more likely to re-introduce foods too fast and possibly cause tremendous discomfort (see the section below on reintroducing foods).
There are several benefits to increasing your water intake in general. But based on my research, here is a summary of the benefits of a water fast:
Mental Clarity: Likely a side effect of your body not working very hard and in turn causing immense relaxation, but you are able to think much more clearly when fasting.
Detoxify: Fasting allows the body to rid itself of toxins, so a fast should be viewed as a jump start to permanent healthy choices. Introducing and MAINTAINING a proper diet filled with real and nutritious food is what will benefit you the most in the long run. (see note below for more on detox).
Digestive Function: Your digestive system will love you for fasting. It takes about three days into the fast for your system to completely shut down. Liquids in, liquid out, so there will be no bloating from digestive processes.
Notes on Health Benefits:
This is OUR personal story about water fasting. We’re not doctors and have never claimed to be. In no way, shape, or form are we stating that water fasting will cure anything. You should always check with your doctor before embarking on an extended fast!
I’ve summarized our findings on the benefits of water fasting here, but if you prefer to see the research for yourself, we recommend reading “Water Fasting for Wellness.”
For a doctor’s viewpoint of water fasting, check out “Fasting and Eating for Health.”
- Berkey water filters are the cream of the crop, known for taking arsenic, uranium, aluminum, and fluoride out of ordinary tap water. While it’s on the pricier side, it’s definitely worth considering not just for water fasting, but for improving the water in your home as a whole.
- The only downside is that Berkey water filters are really tall and can be awkward in the kitchen. We installed a reverse osmosis filtration system under our kitchen sink and we love it!
- Brita, single water bottle w/filter.
What else can I drink besides water?
- Add a slice of lemon to water.
- Electrolytes (I like these effervescent tablets).
- Make your own (try this recipe).
- If you’re not a big water drinker in the first place and you don’t think water tastes good, consider an infuser water bottle. You can add slices of fruit that will flavor the water, making it more palatable.
- There are infuser water pitchers too, for making bigger batches of flavored water. My favorite flavor combination is cucumber + mint + lemon – so good!
My Personal Experience
Note: These are written directly from my husband!
- Days 1-3. The first few days were rough, detoxifying symptoms (i.e. hunger, headaches, etc.) were the worst. Probably because of caffeine withdrawal.
- Days 4-6. Much easier than the first three… These days were relatively easy – at least compared to the first three! I started losing weight, 1 – 1 1/2 pounds per day, but there was no problem going to work, playing guitar at church or performing any other daily physical functions.
- Day 7. I will never forget this day – ever. This was the most miserable day I have ever lived on planet earth. I came home from work feeling great, not hungry, thinking clearly… And then my wonderful wife pulled a freshly baked loaf of rosemary olive oil bread from the oven. I wanted that bread, but it wasn’t even possible at this point. Why? Once your digestive system shuts down around day 3, it takes a few days to bring it back up to speed after your water fast is finished (see the FAQs for more info).
- Day 8-10. These days were almost an exact replica of days 4-6. By the end of day 10, my body weight had decreased 15 pounds and I was ready to eat again.
Would I do this again?
All in all, I enjoyed water fasting. It was challenging, but the health benefits (post-fast) were well worth it.
- My digestion improved.
- My blood pressure was lowered.
- And my body was able to detox.
- My long term plan is to fast at least once or twice a year from now on.
Note: My wife likes food too much to do a water fast, be she’s committed to doing a smoothie fast with me whenever I water fast. That might be an option for you if the idea of water fasting is a bit daunting!
What happened on his second water fast…
His second fast was for 5 days and he called it “quick and painless.” He did it shortly after we moved to Georgia and we were living in a one-bedroom apartment. Cooking was hard and minimal, so he simply fasted during the week and the kids and I had sandwiches for dinner.
.. and his third water fast…
His third water fast was for 10 days and was a bit trickier, and we were thankful that he was under the supervision and guidance of a friend who is also a Physician Assistant. It’s hard to pinpoint what made this third fast so hard, and I, unfortunately, have no other details to offer, but it was a good reminder to not make any serious health changes without first consulting your doctor.
… and his fourth water fast…
His fourth water fast was for 5 days and very similar to his second – quick and painless. He’s since switched to decaf coffee, which eliminated the caffeine withdrawals and making Day 2 MUCH easier. He started talking about food on Day 4, which we took as a signal that his body was on target to finish the fast on Day 5 as he had planned.
Most people drink plain water during a water fast, but you might also consider:
herbal tea (ginger, peppermint, chamomile & etc.)
black coffee (regular or decaf)
The answer is that it’s really about what you’re comfortable with doing. My husband did not drink coffee because he was using the fast to help detox his body from caffeine and sugar. If you are fasting while guided by your medical professional, it’s best to ask your medical professional if you should still drink coffee while water fasting.
Yes. Some people might start out with intermittent fasting which is found in studies to be a healthy choice. Intermittent fasting might be one day a week, or one day a month. Other people may speak to their healthcare professional and decide to initially try a three day water fast. Sources: (3)(4).
My husband used water to fast for 10 days. But when I fast, I choose to drink real food smoothies. So, there are many different ways to approach water fasting. It really depends on what you’re comfortable with, and what you decide with your health care professional.
Regardless of how long you fast, it’s VERY important to know how long you’re going to fast BEFORE you start. This is more of a mental commitment to anything, but it’s also easy to keep going for “one more day” once you’re in a fasting state, which isn’t always a smart move. Have a known end date and always be under a doctor’s supervision.
My husband ate very light, healthy and nutritious real food. Once you are ready to begin eating food, it takes a few days to bring your digestive system back up to speed. You do this by very slowly introducing food to your digestive system – gradually building back up to solid, in steps. For example:
Days 1-2. Drink fresh juices and clear broths. (Listen to your body. Drink them as often as you feel hungry.)
Days 2-3. Add in fresh fruit and/or pureed fruit like applesauce.
Days 3-4. Add in steamed and soft, easy-to-digest vegetables. Think broth based smooth soups, like butternut squash soup (minus the spices), and also veggies like well-cooked carrots. Try plain mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes & etc.
Note: Save cruciferous veggies (like broccoli, cauliflower & cabbage) for the end of your food reintroduction – once your digestive system is completely up and running. The same goes for foods like nuts, seeds, beans and meat. These foods are harder to digest, and you want to go easy on your digestive system.
Days 4-5. Continue to increase your foods slowly, listening to your body, and eating according to your digestive comfort.
Note: The process of reintroducing food can take anywhere from 7-14 days before your digestive system is back up to fully operational. Eating any solid food while in a fasted state can lead to severe discomfort and even hospitalization!
Other Ways to Detox
Water fasting is definitely on the more extreme side of detoxing your body. However, there are many other ways to detox on a regular basis to keep your body functions optimal.
- DIY Apple Cider Vinegar Elixir is great for a daily boost to your digestive and immune system.
- A Detox Bath is an easy way to relax and allow your body to heal from the everyday toxins we encounter.
- Drinking a Detox Smoothie from time to time will boost your body systems and keep it running smoothly.
- DIY Detox Face Mask with Charcoal and Clay helps to clear your skin and improve your complexion.
- Using a Detoxifying Salt Scrub is a wonderful way to clean your skin and exfoliate while removing toxins.
- Everyday Detox and No Excuses Detox are cookbooks each with 100 recipes for healthy eating. Real food eating and detoxing through diet is an excellent way to keep your body free from toxins.
Several of those detox methods use Bentonite Clay. It’s so good for your body in many ways (more about that here). If you’re just starting out try one of these smaller containers of Bentonite Clay. But if you’re like me and use it for all sorts of things around the house, buy it in bulk!