The Beginner's guide to 7 day water fast & 12 Amazing benefits
24th November 2014
Before getting in to water only fasting, let me give a little background on why I even tried this fasting.
For years I was just putting on weight with nothing done to really do anything about it. I actually had no reason to even think about the added weight. I am 5’10” tall and was weighing 89kg a year back due to unhealthy eating habits. I would always feel heavy when involving in a physical activity. I could almost feel I am carrying added weight on me than I should actually. I am a lazy goose. Exercise does not fit in my daily routine. I would do it, but not regularly. So exercising is not going to be an answer to reduce my weight.
Next it can be through diet. Here I am really not ready to compromise on what I can eat. I cannot give up what I can have. This is when I stumbled up on intermittent fasting. I got to let go something, this was perfect for me as I can eat whatever I like for one meal (I choose afternoon at 1 pm) and then restrict me for the rest of the day. I have a fruit/raw veg bowl for dinner at 9 pm. That’s it. Saturdays I don’t force me much. I do have a regular dinner just on Saturdays.
There are many forms of diet that can be followed to being in healthy changes in our body. Water only diet is more of a fast than a diet. It involves primarily to drink only water during the fasting period. It could be considered as staring by some. The fact is, water only fasting is the best way to bring in detoxification and therapeutic changes. As it does not only detox water solvable toxins, it also burns fat and deplete toxins there as well, which is not possible by many of the fast/diets.
The Zero Calorie Diet:
The fast is intense and grueling due to the emotional challenges involved. Still, it manages to correct minor disruptions in the body as it helps purify the system. When a person takes only water, he or she is consuming ‘zero’ calories. In a body loaded with numerous toxins, both internal and external, the tissues struggle to eliminate the wastes. Our food habits further add excessive calories, thereby slowing down metabolism. Taking virtually no calories for 2 to 7 days was found to revive our tissues and system functions.
Benefits Of 7 Day Water Fasting:
Zero calories consumed, forcing your burn about 1 - 2 pounds of fat per day, making it the fastest weight loss method.
Improves insulin sensitivity due to less fluctuation in blood sugar levels.
Improves body repair functions, recovery and healing from decreased inflammation.
Reduces the stress levels, decreases blood pressure and rejuvenates the body.
Increases immunity due to better cell resistance and repairs.
Enables reduction in cancer cell proliferation due to improved growth harmone activity.
Anti aging effect and cognitive decline.
Lowers the risk of heart disease.
Solves an array of digestive problems as the fast restarts your complete digestion process. Problems that can be solved includes gastritis, irritable bowels, constipation, diarrhea, gas, dyspepsia, and loss of appetite.
Find better control over their thoughts and diet after the fast.
Builds confidence in your bodies ability.
Helps you in your spiritual journey and self realization.
Who To Fast:
Water fasts are advised for those who can manage few to several days of intense calorie deprivation. Individuals who have taken a 2-day fast earlier would find it easier to take a 4-day or 7-day fast. Hence, beginners can start with a 2-day water fast. Patients with medical issues require medical consultation before embarking on this plan.
Water fasting is not for everyone. People with the following medical conditions will have to seem medical advice before you can perform a water fasting. Your Doctor may advice you on how you can take can take up the fast or would want you not to move forward:
Heart disease, including heart failure, arrhythmias (especially atrial fibrillation), history of a heart attack, valve problems, or cardiomyopathy
Alzheimer’s disease or organic brain syndrome
Pregnant or breastfeeding
Taking medication you cannot stop taking
Any eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia
Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) or diabetes
Late stage kidney or liver disease
AIDS, tuberculosis, or infectious disease
Late stage cancer
Vascular disease or poor circulation
Obese people trying to lose weight can take the fast and observe immediate results. Although, it is necessary to note that the lost pounds might return once the calories come back into your diet. Underweight people might find the fast too grueling, and can experience more fatigue compared to others. Some might face complications during the fast, and they need to stop it immediately.
How To Fast:
The water fast may look like it takes just 2 to 7 days. But it is not as simple as that. It requires dedication for 7 to 14 days for the actual procedure.
You need to prepare yourself before you begin the water fast. Set your mind to accept the numerous bodily reactions that you will encounter during the fast. Overcome any fears as the human body can comfortably tolerate a 7-day water only fast.
2. Before The Fast:
For beginners, it might be easier to practice with diets that are good alternatives to water and juice. Some eat brown rice or other nutritious foods for this purpose.
3. Water only Fast:
While on the water fast, have only distilled or mineral water. Drink 9-13 glasses of water a day. In general, men should drink around 13 cups of water and other fluids daily (about 3 liters), and women should aim for 9 cups (2.2 liters). You can stick to the daily recommended amount of water during your water fast. Choose the purest water you can, or drink distilled water.
Don’t drink all that water at once! Spread out your water consumption throughout the day. Try setting out three 1-gallon jugs every day, so you can see how much water you should drink.
Don’t drink more water than the recommended amount, as this can throw off the balance of salt and minerals in your body and cause health problems.
4. Weight Loss:
Firstly, the body will start losing the weight of water, which comes back, and then taps into the fat reserves to burn calories. Gradually, the glycogen reserves and muscle cells are also used for energy. The process when your body can sustain just on your fat reserve than any need for carbohydrates is Ketosis. It will take about 3 days to switch to Ketosis. Once you are in this stage, you will start to feel a little better as your liver is not running on fat as a fuel for your body than carbohydrates.
5. Body Reactions:
Women take 2 days and men take 3 days to adjust to water fast. Food cravings and sudden hunger bouts are observed at this time. These intense hunger pangs, coupled with dizziness, weakness, and nausea, diminish after the first 2 days. One needs to focus and overcome the reactions with mental strength. Once this happens, the body starts feeling energetic while the hunger gets reduced.
Differentiate normal from abnormal side effects. It’s not uncommon to feel some dizziness, a little weakness, nausea, or occasional skipped heartbeats while fasting. However, stop fasting and seek medical attention if you lose consciousness, feel confused, have more heart palpitations than one or two a day, have severe stomach discomfort or headache, or any other symptom that feels alarming to you.
6. Avoid dizziness:
After 2-3 days of water fasting you may experience dizziness if you stand up too quickly. Avoid this by getting up slowly and doing some deep breathing before standing. If you do get dizzy, immediately sit or lie down until it passes. You can also try putting your head between your knees or have your leg raised with some support under it like a chair. This will help blood flow back in your brain making you feel better. If you become so dizzy that you lose consciousness, stop fasting and see your doctor.
Ensure you have planned the fast when there are no demands on your time. Get plenty of rest to compensate for the low energy levels. Allow your body to detoxify and heal itself. Read and entertain yourself without any considerable physical activity. Reducing the need for energy will slow down your metabolism and reduces the stress on your body.
8. Avoid intense exercise during this time:
Your energy may fluctuate between feeling weak and tired and feeling energetic. It all depends on the ability to generate energy, controlling insulin level, blood sugar and blood pressure. Any fluctuation during this period is normal. Even when you have lots of energy, don’t exert yourself. Instead, try gentle, restorative yoga. Yoga is a calming way of stretching your muscles and getting some light exercise.
Yoga and light stretching may feel good to some people, and be too vigorous for others. Listen to your body and only do what feels comfortable
9. Break The Fast:
To break the fast, your body needs to adjust the same way it adjusted to the fast. Since you know your body the best, find the time when the real hunger starts. It is the point when there is a genuine call for nutrition, and this is when you give yourself a little treat. What you are doing here is to wake up your digestion process and to lubricate it slowly to process complex food items step by step. At this point your mucus membrane may have become thin and your stomach capacity would also have reduced. You need to have both this in mind, listen to your body and slowly break your fast.
Break your fast with orange or lemon juice first. Then proceed to add foods to your diet gradually. Eat small amounts about every 2 hours, at first. Proceed in a step-wise process from easily digested foods to foods that are harder to digest. Depending on the length of your fast, you can spread this process out over one day or many days. This is a general order in which you can introduce food when you break your fast. Depending on how your digestion reacts, you can skip a few if needed.
Raw fruit and green leafy vegetables
Vegetable soup and cooked vegetables
Cooked grains and beans
Milk, dairy, and eggs
Meat, fish, and poultry
10. After The Fast:
Your body has certain reactions even after the fast. There are two reactions, one is from how your body has reacted during your fast and next is how it is reacting to food after the fast. These are few reactions you can expect after your fast sudden rush of Sugar, feeling full with less about of food, feeling irritation in your mouth, food pipe or stomach. Make sure you are not having anything spicy to avoid this. Keep drinking lot of water to process the food well and take it comfortably through the digestion process. Fortunately, they involve giving us a sense of well-being. It shows in your skin and eyes. Moreover, a process such as this keeps you from making bad food choices too.
How your body reacts and what you can expect from a 7 days water fasting
If you are attempting a one week fast for the first time, be prepared for few body reactions during the process. As a habit, the body is used to consuming food at regular intervals. When there is sudden lack of food intake, you may feel weakness, dizziness, nausea, etc which is quite normal. Sometimes you may feel very energetic, but the very next moment you may feel weak. These fluctuations are common and normal. There may be also a drop in blood pressure and slight headaches. One need not get frightened with these reactions. You should take rest or lie down, when ever these symptoms become intense. Consult a doctor if these reactions are too intense.
One may even feel a sudden bout of hunger. To overcome it, just drink one or two glasses of water. Then lie down and take rest. The hunger should go away in a short time. If the hunger keeps recurring, consult your doctor. You can discontinue the fast if the hunger is unbearable. But in most cases, it is not a serious issue.
These symptoms are more intense in the first 3 – 5 days. After about 3 days the digestive fire begins to slow down and becomes weak. Usually after 3 -5 days the hunger bouts may disappear. After 5 days one may even feel very light with total lack of hunger. This may vary from person to person. One may feel a great sense of well- being. One may even feel energetic enough to play a game of badminton. But do not exert yourself at this stage. You may take light walks instead. Do some light tasks like working on your laptop or watching television instead.
Food craving is another common reaction during a one week water fast. One starts thinking of various types of tasty food and how to prepare them. You may experience this even if you are not feeling hungry. One may even day dream of going to various restaurants and eating some special dishes. These are normal. Do not fight these thoughts. Just give some distraction to the mind, like watching a movie, television, music, etc.
Fasting is a time for intense cleansing at physical and mental level. The body has a natural mechanism to throw out toxins from the body during the healing process. These toxins are mostly thrown out through digestive system into the intestines. At this time, one gets a thick white coating on the tongue. The coating may remain even after scrapping the tongue. This is a sign that the toxins are being eliminated.
An enema, few times a week (or on alternate days), is advised by the doctors during this time to speed up the removal of toxins which are accumulated in the large intestine.
The toxins may also get removed through the lungs. At that time one may get foul breath which may last for a day or two.
One may feel nausea at times, which may be caused by acidity in the stomach. This acidity can be removed by cleaning the stomach through a simple process. Just drink a liter or more of slightly warm salt water and vomit it all out. This is called Kunjal Kriya or Vaman Kriya in yoga and is a common practice in both ayurveda and naturopathy to cleanse the stomach.
During the seven days, the mind can also throw up lot of impressions from the subconscious and unconscious mind. These impressions can cause strong emotions. One has to take a witness attitude towards these thoughts and emotions. Remember, the mind is going through a cleansing process. Give the mind some healthy distraction during such times and it should be fine.
Please understand that these are normal reactions during long term fasts. Continue the 7-day fast with courage.
Water is the drink of life. It can rejuvenate your life too. Just make sure you do the 7 day water fast right and enjoy its benefits. It is important not to be misinformed about how the weight loss benefits of water fast work. Weight loss is no doubt the quickest. But on the flip side, it is for this very reason that it will find its way back once you start binging on high-calorie foods.