A summary of my 7-day water fasting experiment is provided below.
The reason I wanted to do a one-week water fast was so that I could eliminate my allergies and food intolerances. I also wanted to lose weight, look more fresh, give my nervous system a good rest and rejuvenate my body and mind. I was hoping that fasting would also help me reflect on my life and ease decision-making in terms of work, etc. The fast took place in early June 2016.
As regular readers of this site know, I report on both good and bad findings. You will find no hype here, as the whole purpose of writing this site is to unravel many myths about health and to compare my own experiences with those of others and to balance these findings with background research.
More about this fast in these articles:
Will It Magically Heal You to Stop Eating for Seven Days?
Water Fasting Diary - full notes
Jump straight to 'Long-term effects'.
Weight: 65kg (10st 3lb/ 143 lbs).
Didn't eat since the previous night. Drinking bottled water only. No hunger.
Good energy levels for the first half the day, started getting detoxification symptoms gradually: dizziness, headache, aching gums, red cheeks, weakness.
(Allergy) symptoms continuing from before the fast: sinus congestion, post-nasal drip, tried-feeling eyes, blurry vision.
Generally feel quite well and it is nice not to worry about food. I got a lot done today.
Took an afternoon nap. In the evening I began to look less puffy (losing water weight) and was able to breathe better than in the morning, but I also got red eyes and tense-feeling jaw.
Took some notes about 'ama/amma' which in ayurvedic medicine is the cause of most illness.
Woke up at 9am, felt lazy. Dreamt a lot.
Some heavy heartbeat (palpitations), mouth is very coated, otherwise felt good in the morning, belly is a bit flatter.
Took a salt-water enema in the morning, afterwards (36 hours into the fast) begun to feel quite unwell and it got gradually worse. Felt very weak, shaky, irritable, had heart palpitations, very uncomfortable, slightly nauseous, very thirsty despite drinking water, whole body feeling restless and nervous, couldn't sleep, ears ringing, achy and tired eyes, headaches, bad taste in the mouth despite brushing teeth. Difficult to write or walk in a straight line. Feeling cold and then too hot.
Managed to do some house work. Felt better later.
Water fasting is said to starve out parasites.
Carried water bottles back from shop, felt weak and out of breath afterwards.
Begun to enjoy smells more than usual. Taste buds need stimulation. No clear physical signs of hunger but many cravings.
Drank fresh lemon and ginger tea to give antioxidants to the liver and to help kill parasites. Extreme lack of energy, feeling down and a little worried about heart palpitations.
Weight: 63kg (9st 13lb/ 139lbs).
Woke up feeling normal, eyes still puffy. High morning pulse.
Soon after getting up began to feel weak, and a bit later: exhausted. Lower abdomen ache, feel a bit down and worn out. Irritable and angry feelings. Slight headache, feeling cold, slept a lot during the day, dreamt a lot.
Went for a walk - it felt like very hard work as I didn't have enough energy. Any exercise seems to cause heart palpitations and shortness of breath. No 'high vibration' feelings, even the beautiful nature and river didn't interest me today.
Later: quite strong lower back and leg ache.
Evening: Feeling very bored, can't motivate myself to do anything, even to read a book. Feel obsessed about food, the only interesting thing seems to be to watch food programmes on TV.
Evening weight: 61kg (9st 8lbs/ 134lbs), has to be water weight since there have been no bowel movements since yesterday. Took a water enema, feel exhausted afterwards.
Morning pulse 71bpm - very high. Weight: 59.5kg (9 st 5lbs/ 131 lbs).
Just walking to the bathroom at night gave me heart palpitations. Any exertion seems to cause it. Hot bath makes me feel exhausted as well. Got asthma-like symptoms from light exercise (tightness of chest). Headache, acid reflux.
I should be in ketosis by now - the body switches to it on day 2 or 3 when no carbohydrates are consumed (apparently). I don't feel the clear mind or excess energy some people say they do when in ketosis.
I have experienced no mental benefits from this fast so far whatsoever, however, I do generally seem to be getting off easier than many other people. I've read reports of severe pains, insomnia, throwing up, etc. while water fasting.
Conversely, some people report having almost normal energy levels during a water fast, and keeping a normal daily routine, including work and exercise. However, I find it hard to believe.
Cravings are not as bad today. Have enough energy to work on the computer. Drinking hot fresh lemon tea always seems to make me feel a little bit better.
Keeping the windows open for fresh air seems to have a beneficial effect, more than usual.
Managed to do some work today. Took a nap as well.
Heart palpitations, lower back ache, and some eye ache. I seem to always feel a lot worse towards the evening. Weakness, some nausea too, some aches and pains, fever, feeling cold, congested sinuses.
My sense of smell is changing.
I find this water fast mentally difficult because I like to feel happy and motivated, whereas the fast is making me feel very bored, unmotivated to do anything, and a bit down/ depressed. Before I started I thought it would be a welcome rest for the mind as well as the body... I thought I could just relax, sleep a lot, read many books, think inspired thoughts, and perhaps work on this website as well as on job applications. I thought that I might be more productive than normal and that I could enjoy walks and some better-than-normal mental clarity, as I've previously felt on juice fasts. The mental challenges during this water fast feel very similar to my previous very low carb trials, where my mind just didn't have enough energy to function properly.
Kept waking up at night because of aching back - I suspect it was ache radiating from kidneys or ovaries.
Feel fairly well this morning apart from back pain. No more fever. Eyes are still a bit puffy but less than usual. Morning pulse is still high.
Slept most of the day, aches and pains came and went: back (lower and upper), arms, legs, head, lower belly. Sleeping seems to always reduce the pains.
In the evening begun to feel weak again. Skin brushing and massage. Had no strength to work at the computer. Still feel down, very very bored, and my mind is out of energy. Still no hunger.
Lemon water tastes too acidic.
Drink less water now than in the beginning of the fast, sometimes it makes me feel slightly nauseous.
Evening: had fever again. Heart palpitations almost all day.
Weight: 57kg (9 stones/ 126 lbs).
Felt a bit better this morning, and more upbeat. Tongue is not as coated, bad taste in the mouth is finally starting to get less. Slept quite well. Still some phlegm in my throat, sinuses not completely clear, cough a little bit here and there.
I lay outside in the sun for 15 minutes, bare feet in the grass. It seemed to make me feel stronger.
Keep thinking about food every day. As soon as I tried to work on the computer I begun to feel nauseous. Managed to work a couple of hours later. Slept.
Felt almost back to normal in the evening, the worst of the fast detox symptoms seem to be over.
Slept well apart from very restless feet. (Lots of text in the diary about restless feet & the types of water I've been drinking.)
Bathing in warm, less hot water made me feel exhausted. Heart palpitations, post-nasal drip.
Drank 2 drops of oregano essential oil and did steam breathing.
I have faint dark rings around my eyes. My eyes are clearer, I look a lot slimmer, my belly has gone almost flat, my face is not puffy anymore, and the eyes are only slightly puffy, eyelids are less droopy, I look younger. Heart palpitations and some slight breathing problems are still there. A little fatty benign tumour in my lower belly has not disappeared.
Suddenly got hungry for the first time during this fast but it went away quite quickly again.
Feel quite energetic but still can't do physical work. Sitting (resting) heart rate is 82bpm, very high. Went on two short walks and one short meeting, was completely exhausted afterwards and fell asleep on the sofa.
Got a brief 'seizure'-type feeling in my head while sleeping (I used to get this occasionally but not for the last year).
Evening: Not sleepy. Tried to go to bed at 1am but got very restless legs, worse than ever before. Opening the windows to let fresh air in, together with other remedies, helped after some battling.
Weight before eating: 55kg (8 stone 9 lbs/ 121 lbs) = my ideal weight. I lost 10kg (1 stone 8 lbs/ 22 lbs) in one week!
Broke the fast with water melon, tasted a bit sweeter than usual. Cashew nut butter tasted very good. Oven-baked beetroot is not digesting well and needs a lot of salt to taste good. After eating the beetroot and cashew nuts my eyes went less clear.
During the day ate strawberries and oily black bean pasta with mushrooms as well. Pink grapefruit tasted amazing.
Still need to drink a lot of water. Energy levels are still lower than normal. Heart rate is becoming lower and heart palpitations less.
Craving sweet and sugary things but can't eat too sweet fruit yet since apparently the pancreas needs more time to recover.
Slept for 2 hours during the day.
Restless feet tonight got even worse - luckily found some new remedies.
I lost 10kg in one week (1 stone 8 lbs/ 22 lbs) but gained 2kg (4 lbs) as soon as I started eating again. In the days that followed the weight gain continued. It went back up to 62kg (137 lbs) quickly (partly due to allergies, maybe) and then stabilised at 60kg (9st 6lb/ 132 lbs) when I began to go running every morning.
Pulse has returned to normal.
When walking outside, I was feeling very good mentally and physically. The cool wind on my skin felt especially nice and refreshing. I think my dopamine and happy hormone levels are up.
Yesterday's beetroot is still feeling heavy in my stomach.
I don't seem to feel fully satisfied after eating. It seems that I crave wheat, sugar and cheese. I may be more addicted to them than I thought.
Researched fiber and digestion problems.
Worked a lot on the computer. Energy levels are still not back to normal, took a 2.5-hour nap during the day.
Lentil soup for breakfast gave me a strong food intolerance reaction which lasted for three days. I found out the culprit was either chilli, canned tomato, cayenne pepper, or all of them. Suspect all nightshades and am staying away from them.
The reaction was strong and long-lasting: very puffy eyes, cold-symptoms, sore throat, congested sinuses, tiredness, swollen throat, cough, very bloated abdomen, lower belly ache, stiff neck and clouded vision. Researched nightshade allergy and its symptoms.
My energy levels are better today than yesterday.
Still suffering from yesterday's allergy symptoms quite badly. Confirmed nightshade allergy/ intolerance (either all nightshades or just chilli and/or tomatoes). Drank chaga mushroom tea to try to alleviate allergy symptoms.
It's a real shame the food intolerance symptoms hit me this bad and I didn't get to enjoy good and healthy feelings as a result of the fast! But it's very important that I'm finding out these allergies.
Quite bloated abdomen today and a lot of gas. Is the bloatedness caused by fiber, nightshades or lentils?
The nightshade allergy symptoms are a lot less severe. There are still some symptoms of a cold and eye puffiness.
Weight has dropped back to 60kg now - seems that the allergies/ intolerances cause weight gain (inflammation and water retention > water weight).
Eating Sushi seems to be ok.
I found an allergy to soya yoghurt also. Wrote more about my allergies and what helps to eliminate some symptoms short-term.
Has eating healthy made me more sensitive of many foods? Is my body getting weaker and should I expose it to more toxins on purpose so that it can get used to coping with them - in the same way as muscles, brain cells and the immune system need exercising?
Your personality definitely changes while fasting - in my case not to better. Perhaps my body does not do well in ketosis, because of thyroid issues or something else? I've had similar low-mental-energy problems on low-carb diets also.
How I would prepare for water fast next time: sunshine, many nice fragrances, food-related books and films, massages and treatments to bring joy to the days, ideally by the sea, etc.
I didn't notice many long-term effects from the water fast in the first 1.5 weeks after the fast, apart from permanent 5kg (11 lbs) weight loss which was kept in check by running every morning. My allergy/ food intolerance symptoms became stronger (perhaps temporarily?) which is typical after complete abstinence from any offending food.
The eye puffiness/swollenness began to reduce with avoidance of nightshades, which I'm happy about, as I was worried before that it might be aspergillus and/or hyperthyroid -related. Other allergens, especially cheese, seem to bring it back a little bit, but not as much as nightshades. The eye puffiness and other eye problems (pressure, not clear eyes, blurry vision, ache) seem also to be clearly linked to sinus congestion, which in turn is caused by allergies/intolerances.
A possibly unrelated issue is that I still seem to get very red eyes occasionally which seems to be related to make-up and/or certain types of electric lights and/or stress and/or allergies.
However, there are a couple of reasons why I believe that water fasting has made my body stronger, not weaker. The way that different ailments would appear for a short time (during the fast), one by one, only to disappear quickly, seems to indicate 'retracing' of old conditions, i.e. the body doing some work to heal them. If my body was becoming weaker, I would have expected the negative symptoms to continue and to gradually get worse as the fast progressed.
During water fasting I felt a lot stronger on days 6 and 7 than on the previous days. This at the very least would seem to indicate that my body was (temporarily) getting used to coping with the lack of food.
I feel perhaps a bit more self-disciplined and determined with my health goals after the fast. This may be because of the water fast, but alternatively may just be because I recently accomplished a major life goal - finished my architecture studies - and am therefore probably (subconsciously) feeling more happy about myself and therefore more determined and energetic. Also, I have more time now, as I'm not studying anymore and have not yet started work, which obviously makes accomplishing health goals easier.
I have now begun to wake up between 5.30 and 6.30am every day, and every morning I run along the river for 20-30 minutes. This seems to be a very nice way to live and I hope I can keep it up when I start work. I do get tired during the day, however, which I hope will change once my body gets used to this new habit.
Starchy foods seem to be very addictive and probably the cause of much of the bloatedness and lack of energy. Starch breaks down to sugars quickly in the body and therefore can feed bad bacteria and yeasts, etc.; spike the blood sugar; and cause inflammation and water retention. It can also cause dehydration. It is a very tempting food to eat, however, because it's calorie-dense and eating it can result in quick energy and feeling of satisfaction.
More text about which foods I plan to eat in the future, main challenges, the raw food diet, food combination, my health journey, etc. can be found at the end of the diary notes.
This has been a summary of my 7-day water fast.
For full diary notes go to: Water Fasting Diary.
The Transformational Power of Fasting: The Way to Spiritual, Physical and Emotional Rejuvenation by Stephen Harrod Buhner
Ulla is the Editor of Cheap Health Revolution, covering natural remedies and health solutions.