How I Survived 4 Days With No Food

fasting 101

Don't worry, I was not smiling the whole time during my four days without food. This picture was taken at the tail end!

Fasting is an unpopular and frightening subject for many people. It was a daunting thought for me too for most of my life. My first experiences with fasting were strictly for spiritual reasons. The Bible mentions fasting all throughout the Old and New Testament and is a powerful prayer tool.

What I didn't understand until recently was the miraculous health benefits that result from fasting. Go figure. Isn't it cool that God gave us the ability to fast as a spiritual discipline which also has profound physical benefits? 

physical benefits of water fasting:

  • Reduced inflammation by controlling glucose and insulin: without a constant spike in glucose (caused by eating) the body is left to burn its own fat which slows aging. (1)
  • Slows aging process: by maintaining optimal glucose levels and reduce inflammation. (2)
  • Autophagy: "self eating" is the body's natural process to remove toxic cellular debris. Autophagy has been known to remove skin tags, shrink tumors, rid viruses and more. (3)
  • Boosts immune system: rebuilds cell population with native T-cells which combat particular microbes. (4)
  • Epigenetics: "turns off" harmful genes and "turn on" good genes we were born with. (5)
  • Hormone sensitivity: the body is forced to listen to hormones making cleansing and physical change easier. (6)

I recently completed a four day water and bone broth fast. I know it sounds crazy to the average Joe, but I survived and came out stronger on the other side. The crazy part is that I did not experience hunger one time. It's important to note I've made fasting a regular part of my life in the past year so I was not jumping into the deep end without experience.

How I set myself up for a successful 4 day fast.

  1. Already eating low carb/high fat.Three months prior to this fast I had adopted a low carb/high fat diet. My body was primed for being a fat burner instead of a sugar burner. So when I went without food, my body didn't signal me with a screaming tummy or headaches telling me I  needed a quick sugar fix - it knew how to dip into fat stores for its energy.

  2. Tapered food the week prior to fast. Unlike other times of fasting I didn't stuff my face two days leading up to my fast. I actually started tapering overall food intake about 3-4 days before the fast. I also started to slightly reduce my workout program so I didn't begin my fast ravishing from hard workouts.

  3. Removed caffeine a week prior. This was a biggie! It's hard enough to go without food, but dealing with caffeine withdrawls would make it worse. I don't drink coffee everyday either on a regular basis. Someone who drinks coffee everyday would do best going at least two weeks without caffeine prior to a fast.
  4. Removed meat 3 days prior. I don't have any scientific evidence for this other than common sense that it takes more energy for the digestive system to break down meat. So in effort to start to allow my digestive system to "rest", I cut out meat three days prior. This also helped me mentally to start being able to say "no" to certain food for a period of time during my fast.
  5. Ate very high fat the day prior. Along with eating lighter fare prior to my fast, I ate very high fat which included coconut oil, avocado oil, and olive oil the day before starting my fast.
  6. Prepared activities during my fast. I scheduled a few playdates prior to starting the fast so I had something to look forward to. I knew I would have less energy and I didn't want these four days to be miserable for my toddler! I picked a couple books I wanted to read, along with a list of Bible readings I wanted to complete. This is one of the most important tips! Going without food means much more time. It's just as important as what you DO, DO as what you DON'T EAT during this time. Our spirit and emotions are more impressionable during this time so it's important to listen, read and watch only things that are positive and uplifting. Plus, there's nothing like devouring over two books in 4 days.

Other fasting options that reap similar benefits that work into almost any lifestyle.

Intermittent Fast

Alternate Day Fast

Daniel Fast

Bone Broth/Juice Fast

Fat Fast

My experience

Fasting is always the hardest mentally and it was no different this time around. Whenever my mind was off the task of the moment I would find myself counting down the days or the hours until it was over. I didn't experience hunger one time. What I did experience this time was extreme fatigue. Thankfully I had time to rest in the afternoon when I needed. Daily tasks like going up stairs, getting in and out of the car, or changing diapers were literally exhausting for me. Another slightly annoying side effect I experienced was trouble sleeping which is common while fasting due to drop in insulin and increase in the body's fight or flight state (7).

Before I lose you and you never want to fast, here are a few positive notes. First I lost several pounds of water weight and even some fat. Because I was not hungry, I wasn't temped by food whatsoever. The only motivation I had to eat during those four days was because I knew I would regain energy if I did! I had lots of time to read, journal and reflect. Some of the insights I gained during my four days were so profound they will outweigh any physical benefits I received! Another positive was the self discipline I was able to practice. Let me tell you, going four days without food makes you feel like you can do almost anything.

Post fast I have eaten more mindfully, experienced much less bloating, and sleep AMAZINGLY. Not to mention my skin is clear and has more glow.

Brooke's 6 Fasting Tips:

  1. Know Your why. Know if your fast is spiritually motivated, physically or both? That will determine your protocol and will provide the motivation to stick it out. Using it as a fad diet won't work to say no to free donuts in the office!
  2. Accountability. Don't fast alone! Tell a small group, a health coach, your wellness practitioner. Especially consider working with a coach if you are embarking on a 3+ day water fast!
  3. Replace. Replace the time you would normally eat and prepare food with something else restful or encouraging: reading, journaling, light walks, phone calls with family or friends, pedicure or massage.
  4. Rest. This is important! No hard workouts, no over time at work. Now is not the time to catch up on laundry. Your body will do some pretty funky stuff and it's important you give yourself grace and margin to rest when you need. Light walks or light stretching is okay. Reserve your energy for your body to heal.
  5. Prepare right. Before the fast begins decide what protocol you are going to stick to and just as importantly how you are going to break the fast. Otherwise you will spend it daydreaming about Golden Corral!
  6. Exit right. DO NOT break your fast by a trip to the buffet. (Been there, done that, wanted to die!) Have probiotic rich foods on hand when you're done and other soft real foods on hand for smoothies and lightly cooked veggies. Start off with only soft foods the first day like soups or light smoothies with kraut or other probiotic rich foods. Check out this short video for more tips.

All in all I plan on continuing my fasting practice as needed. We live in a world of abundance and plenty. At least in the Western world. It was actually a joy to experience a level of "suffering" and weakness for a short period of time. Not only did I know my body was going to restoration mode, but my spirit was reminded how dependent I am on God's strength. If you are brand new to this concept check out some of the resources I've linked below with trusted sources on the subject.

Enjoy reading up and let me know what you find!

Have you ever done a fast? What was your experience?

    Fasting resources:

    Leanne Vogel - Blog & Videos

    Dr. Pompa - Blog & Podcast ( Cellular Healing TV )

     Dr. Jason Fung - Website & Videos

    The Obesity Code - Dr. Jason Fung

     

    *endnotes:

    1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6: https://drpompa.com/additional-resources/health-tips/testimonies-in-water-fasting

    7: https://www.dietdoctor.com/trouble-sleeping-anger-common-fasting