5 days water fast: My experience.
Updated: Aug 7
I have always been interested in fasting, and intrigued about going days without food. Entering the world of health, I encountered stories of people, fasting experts capable of drinking only water for up to 40 days, and sometimes even more. But even with proof of benefits and nice stories, I never thought to do a water fast. In the past I’ve done few juice fasts, but to go completely without food seemed too extreme, and close to impossible. I love food, and for me skipping dinner was unheard of.
During one of my worse times with Ulcerative Colitis, a friend texted me. He wanted to tell me his story and experience with fasting to help healing. Since that call, signs of fasting were all around. Surprisingly enough this friend a few days after told me how a prolonged water fast improved his health and helped with his healing. I was intrigued by his story, and the way he was talking was convincing. For the first time I felt I could do it. Why not give it a try? Most of all, I had a gut feeling that it was the right thing to do.
At first I was scared. I felt I did not have enough knowledge to start fasting, which was true. Also I was taking cortisone and I couldn’t abruptly stop. When you fast, for a total detoxification and cleanse, you should stop all medications as well. I gave myself some time. I started to do a lot of research. The more I was reading about fasting and its benefits, the more I wanted to start. I could not wait to stop eating. I was willing to try.
I started to plan the fast. I tried to find all the answers to my questions and then I decided, “I’ll start the day after my birthday”. What better day could I choose? This could be a new start, a total cleanse at the beginning of a new year of my life.
For my birthday I had a small gathering at my house, there was food and I was appreciating like I was not going to eat anymore in my life, but I didn’t overeat. I was full of motivation.
The morning of my fast I bought a box of pure water, some alkaline water, and had my “last” breakfast; banana porridge, and a glass of orange juice. 11am my fast started. Five days, 120 hours in front of me, I didn’t know what to expect but I thought “It’s easy, I need to only drink water and rest”.
It’s funny how things changed comparing with when I was younger. I used to start each new year of my life partying hard, drinking and smoking. Literally making my body toxic. Here I am years later doing totally the opposite. The first day went quite well. It was actually pretty easy. I went for a walk, made sure to stay hydrated, meditated and just watched some stuff on Netflix. 24 hours passed without any side effects. So far so good.
4.30AM: I was completely awake with energy. I looked forward to starting the day. I spent the morning in the park, did some stretching, and I spent most of my time reading. In the middle of the day I started to feel spacey, and at night it was really hard to fall asleep. That night I had really strange and vivid dreams. In one of my dreams I was eating a carrot and spitting it out because I remembered I was on a water fast. Funny because during the day I didn’t have any signs of hunger. I also cooked for Geny, my girlfriend, even if I wasn’t eating, I enjoyed cooking and make happy someone else.
I woke up on my third day a bit sore and dizzy but after some light stretching and meditation I felt good. When I went to the toilet some yellowish mucous came out. I guessed that my body was starting its process of detoxification. During the day I decided to treat my body and get a massage. I spent a lot of time in the sun and noticed that I was doing everything slower and with more attention. I felt peaceful. I had more bowel movements. I went three times to the toilet; mostly diarrhoea and one time there was blood. I was surprised, because I started fasting to stop my bleeding from the Ulcerative Colitis flare-up. I didn’t lose faith and I took it as a sign that my body was cleansing.
Between the third night and the fourth morning, I had some crazy strange and vivid dreams and nightmares. I woke up calm. I remembered all my dreams clearly, but I wasn’t frightened. I still had that feeling of peace that began since day two. The fourth day went quite easy. I didn’t feel hungry, no headaches, and I felt enough energy to do things. Night time was the hardest. It was almost impossible to fall asleep. I felt wide awake and even if I wasn’t always hungry, every time I closed my eyes I thought only about food. This was probably one of the hardest times of my fast. What kept me going was the motivation and the desire to want to heal. I was constantly repeating to myself “just one more day to go”.
Done! The morning of the fifth day I felt a burst of energy and happiness, I was so proud of myself that I almost accomplished 120 hours of only drinking water. The day was quite easy. I was still living a state of peace. I did everything slow and at my own pace. Calmness and stillness in every situation. I ordered some food to start my re-feeding process for the next day. The feeling that I was at the end of my fast started to make me think about food in a different way. After 5 days the hunger kicked in. It wasn’t strong, but I was definitely hungry. I couldn’t wait to fall asleep that night.
I started my fast on a Tuesday morning and Sunday was the day of breaking my fast. I felt I could keep going, but also felt a bit of fear to start eating again. For 5 days I had decided to stop all my medications and the blood completely disappeared. I also felt that after the 5 days, it was the right time to start putting something else into my body that wasn’t water.
Breaking the fast and the re-feeding process.
When I was doing my research about fasting, many people were saying that the hardest part of a prolonged water fast is the re-feeding process. If you don’t break the fast the right way with the right food and quantities for you, things can get pretty fucked up. I read some crazy stories of people dying because they ate a burger after 40 days fasting, or getting an inguinal hernia from eating too much watermelon during the first day. It worried me a bit, but I had only fasted for 5 days so things couldn’t go that bad for me.
I learnt that the best way for breaking a fast is with vegetable and fruit juice, and strained soups. They are the easiest foods to digest. After a long fast our body isn’t used to processing food because the digestive system was off for so long. It needs to be conditioned again in order to learn to digest food properly. But, even with juices you must be careful and don’t get too excited. A watermelon juice or even a green juice with a couple of apples inside can taste like liquid candy after 5 days of only water, and sometimes you don’t know when is enough until your body starts reacting in a bad way.
I drank three 500mL juices: a green juice (celery, cucumber, kale, ginger, and apple); one a bit sweeter (carrots and pineapple); and another green juice (celery, apple, lemon, and ginger). I thought this was enough. Not too much. Soon after the third juice my belly started to make strange noises, and I went to the toilet about 8 times. So my advice is to start really slow. Take it really easy and don’t get too excited, especially if you have an irritable bowel disease or if your gastrointestinal (GI) tract is sensitive.
Learning from my mistake on the first day, the following days I took everything easy. I was careful in what I was putting in my body. I had vegetable soup, steamed veggies and small portions of fruit. When I was still hungry I waited 30 minutes or more to see if my body was having any reaction before eating again.
Fasting is the oldest practice used by humans for healing. It gives time for your body to rest and do its job. Animals fast when they are sick and there is a lot of research that shows fasting to be beneficial in many situations and conditions. I decided to fast because I thought that I could finally heal from Ulcerative Colitis, although it didn’t happen. I have noticed some benefits and I also learnt a lot from it.
We’re used to overeating. Everything revolves around food and food choices. And a lot of our food is of poor quality. We stress around counting calories, macros and micronutrients, and feel depleted when we skip a meal.
I remember what an old man once time told me, “If you wanna live long eat good but also less”.
During the fast I have been able to focus more energy on me and inside me. I have started to take it slow, I don’t react to stupid provocations, and do every little thing with full attention.
Even if I enjoyed, for quite sometime watching Netflix and playing video games, long self-reflection was an everyday practice. This came natural.
The fast reminded me of how fast we live. We multitask, and we are always too distracted to be present or aware of what we may have around us or inside us.
Fasting was a beautiful experience. Something I wanted to try, and I did it at the right time. Maybe in another time of my life I wouldn’t have gone through with the fast.
Would I do it again?
I don’t know, maybe. I will practice fasting 13 to 16 hours a day and eating following the circadian rhythm. But in the future if I do a five days water fast or longer, I would love to do it completely surrounded by nature, because I think the experience will be on a totally different level.
Do I recommend it?
I am not an expert on water fasting, so my first answer would be to check first with your doctor. But unless your doctor is familiar with water fasting he will always try to discourage you. That’s what happened with my doctor and dietitian, but it was my body and I took full responsibility. On the other hand I reckon it is an experience that you should try, but you must be aware of the risks, do your own research, and be sure that your body can handle it. I trusted my feelings, I knew that I could do it, what I was doing, and I felt ready.
At the end of the day, fasting is easy, you just need to drink water, rest, and wait while the body does spring cleans and reboots. Doing a water fast by yourself for 5 days and maybe even 7 isn’t dangerous when you do your research and if you are not emaciated. However, if you decide to try something extreme, 21 or 40 days, go to a center that is specialised in water fasting. You can die with it and on social media there are a lot of people fasting for that long to the point that you could think it is something easy to do, it’s not!
Also I wasn’t alone during my fast. A good friend of mine decided to do it with me and this helped me a lot. So if you decide to fast, find a good buddy that is willing to do it with you. It makes the process much easier and you can talk about how the body is reacting with each other. Especially how many times you pee in a day!
This was my experience. As I said, I am not an expert about fasting, but on google you can find heaps of information about the benefits of fasting. Dr Walter Longo is one of the pioneers of our time and he has done a lot of research on the effects of a water fast on the human body.
Thank you for taking the time to read about my experience. I appreciate it. If you have any questions and curiosity regarding my experience feel free to email me anytime!!!
Integrative Nutrition Health Coach
Vegan Nutrition Coach
Ulcerative Colitis Warrior
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Much peace and love!