[To welcome in the New Year I fasted on only water for five days. This post is a continuation of My First Water Fast Part 1.]
What surprised me the most was how easy it actually was to not eat for five days. I was expecting intense hunger pains, food headaches, hangriness (the essence of being hangry), and acid reflux.
However, what I felt was hunger as if I had missed dinner, some minor headaches (Day 3), light-headedness when standing up too quickly (Day 4/5), and intense daydreams of eggplant parmesan. Whenever I felt hungry I would take a sip of water. *Not bad considering!
*I have read that eating vegetarian helps reduce the side effects of water fasting, so I had that going for me.
When water fasting, they (the Russians in the documentary from Part 1) recommend light exercising several hours a day. I theorize this is to teach the body to use fat stores for fuel rather than muscle
Fun Fact: Typically 96% of energy during a fast is provided by fat.
Thus, per the advice of my Russian friends, throughout the five days I did some light yoga, walks, and breathing exercises in addition to my normal morning routine of sit-ups and push-ups. While fasting I had moderate energy levels and almost-normal strength.
While I won't know the full impact of fasting for many months (allergy season for me is the fall), I have already noticed some significant changes.
First, while weight loss was not a goal of mine, obviously it's going to happen. I dropped more than I expected... 8 pounds in 5 days! The average is usually a pound a day for the first one to two weeks of fasting. Most of loss is water weight, so I have gained half of that back since breaking the fast.
Secondly, a few days into my fast I noticed several old sports injury pains that had been bothering me for months, miraculously disappeared! That was a welcomed reprieve!
Thirdly, fasting made me noticeably stronger, both with resistance training and yoga. Since the fast I've been able to do things I hadn't been able to do before, ever.
Unfortunately, as of a week post-fast, there have been no changes to my blood pressure. But I'm hoping this will change over time along with my other practices of meditation, yoga, and lots of tea.
Breaking the Fast
How, what, and when you start eating is critical to breaking a fast. And if you don't do it right, you will be very uncomfortable at best, and endangering your life at worst.
Your digestive tract, including acids and gut flora, changes dramatically after not eating for several days . Depending on the length of your fast, expect to give your body a few days to reincorporate normal foods. (I couldn't eat the eggplant parmesan I had been dreaming of until three days after the fast. Even then my body had a hard time digesting the cheese.)
For me, breaking the fast and slowly reintegrating more complex foods was harder than not eating at all!
As I added food groups back into my diet, it became apparent which ones my body had a hard time digesting and caused inflammation (i.e. eggs, cheese and sugar). Now I have a better idea of which foods to reduce/remove from my diet.
Overall, after breaking the water fast I have much more energy and a desire to eat even healthier than I was before. Whether I follow through is for another blog post on the topic of willpower!
I'm very thankful for the water fasting experience, and mainly the loosening of control that food has on my mind. I now know that I could not eat for days, and still be fine!
And definitely, definitely, I want to find a way to incorporate fasting into my schedule, either once a month, or do a two week long fast next New Years!
Full Science of Fasting documentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1b08X-GvRs&feature=youtu.be
Fun facts: https://blog.sivanaspirit.com/water-fasting-facts-tips/
Russian study summary: http://cristivlad.com/the-five-stages-of-fasting-dr-nikolayev-russian-case-studies/
How to break a fast: http://www.fitnessthroughfasting.com/breaking-a-fast.html