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My 21 Day Water Fast: A Complete Guide to Water Fasting

Embarking on a 21-day water fast can be a life-changing experience, with profound physical, mental, and emotional benefits. In this journey, you’ll discover the potential advantages of detoxification, autophagy, and weight loss, all while gaining insights into your relationship with food. I’ll also be sharing my personal experience in water fasting for 21 days. Are you ready to unlock the secrets of a 21-day water fast and transform your life?

Bethany Galloway before and after a 21-day water fast.

This post was originally published on September 27th, 2021.

πŸ—οΈ Key Takeaways

  • A 21-day water fast is an extended period of abstaining from food for physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits.
  • Careful preparation and monitoring are essential to ensure a safe experience.
  • Long-term results include weight loss, improved health, increased mental clarity & emotional growth.

🧠 Understanding the 21-Day Water Fast

A 21-day water fast is an extended period of abstaining from food, during which you consume only water to nourish your body. The objectives of this fast are:

  • Detoxification
  • Autophagy
  • Ketosis
  • Weight reduction

These contribute to various health benefits, including health improvement through a healthy diet.

This fasting regimen, which has been studied in randomized clinical trials, should ideally be tried by individuals who have experience with shorter fasts like one week or a 10-day water fast, always under medical supervision.

Purpose and Goals

The primary goals of a 21-day water fast, at least for me, include physical detox, losing weight, and establishing a new relationship with food. By abstaining from food, your body undergoes a process of cleansing, which can lead to weight loss and improved well-being. Additionally, the fasting experience may provide emotional detoxification, as it allows for introspection and self-reflection on your eating habits and relationship with food.

Autophagy, a process where old parts of cells are broken down and recycled, also occurs during a water fast, contributing to weight loss. Ketosis, a metabolic state in which the body burns fat for energy, typically begins on the fourth day of the fast. This shift in metabolism can lead to a deeper spiritual connection for some individuals.

Comparing Fasting Methods

It’s beneficial to contrast water fasting with other fasting methods to identify the most suitable approach for personal needs and objectives, given its significant health advantages. Intermittent fasting and alternate-day fasting are considered more effective, safer alternatives for periods of 24 to 72 hours.

Intermittent fasting typically involves restricting your eating window to a specific time period each day, such as 16 hours of fasting and 8 hours of eating. This pattern of eating allows for more sustainable and safe weight loss compared to a prolonged water fast.

The lemon detox cleanse is another fasting method based on the water fast, consisting of consuming a mixture of lemon juice, water, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper multiple times per day for a maximum of 7 days. You need to explore diverse fasting methodologies and take advice from a medical professional before deciding on the optimal approach that aligns with your personal needs and aspirations.

🚰 Preparing for a 21-Day Water Fast

Adequate preparation is key to success before you start a 21-day water fast. This includes seeking professional medical advice, gradually increasing fasting duration, and mentally preparing for the challenges ahead.

It is important to consult with a doctor before beginning a water fast, as it can be dangerous.

Medical Consultation

A primary step before a 21-day water fast should be a doctor’s consultation to ensure safety and assess potential risks along with benefits. A water fast may result in adverse health and metabolic changes, such as dehydration, loss of lean muscle mass, and dangerous nutritional deficiencies. Hence, a medical professional’s assessment of your health status and guidance throughout the fasting process is of paramount importance.

It’s also important to consider alternative fasting protocols, such as:

  • a 3-day water fast
  • a 5-day water fast
  • a 7-day water fast
  • a 10-day water fast

These protocols may be more suitable for your health needs and goals. Regardless of the fasting duration, always consult a doctor before, during, and after the fast to ensure safety and monitor your progress.

Gradual Approach

Making a successful transition into a 21-day water fast is easier if you start with shorter fasting periods like intermittent fasting or 24-hour fasts. Familiarizing yourself with the physical and mental sensations associated with not consuming food or calories during these shorter fasts can be beneficial before undertaking a longer water fast.

Additionally, reducing the intake of sugar, processed foods, and caffeine from your diet for a period of 2-3 days prior to commencing the fast can help ease the transition into fasting. Consuming raw fruits and vegetables for two days before the fast can also help prepare your body for the fasting experience.

Mental Preparation

For a successful water fast, mental readiness plays a significant role. This involves understanding the intention and objectives of the fast, comparing fasting techniques, and observing your body during the fast. Establishing realistic expectations for your water fast by considering your current lifestyle, health, and objectives is essential for staying motivated throughout the experience.

Being aware of potential challenges, such as hunger, cravings, and fluctuations in energy levels, can help you develop strategies to manage these obstacles during the fast. Having a support system, such as friends and family, to provide encouragement and assistance can also be beneficial in maintaining motivation during the 21-day water fast.

🧭 Navigating the Fasting Experience

To embrace the fasting experience, you must manage hunger and cravings, maintain energy levels, and address the emotional and spiritual facets of fasting. It’s crucial to put your ego aside and listen to your body during a prolonged fast.

Fasting can be a powerful tool for physical and mental health, but it’s certainly a challenge. Here are a few things you may experience:

Hunger and Cravings

Food cravings are a frequent response experienced by people who take part in a 21-day water fast. When I did my extended water fast I was hungry every single day. Many people find such cravings tough to handle, but with willpower, they can be managed successfully. To manage hunger during the fast, it’s advised to stay hydrated, allow yourself to experience hunger, and consume whole, unprocessed foods when breaking the fast.

If hunger persists despite consuming water and taking necessary rest, it’s recommended to consult a medical professional for further attention. Determination and motivation can aid in overcoming hunger and cravings during the fasting experience.

Energy Levels and Exercise

Energy levels may fluctuate during a 21-day water fast, ranging from feeling very energetic to feeling weak or dizzy. It’s essential to pay attention to your body and make the necessary adjustments to your exercise routines during the fast. If you experience weakness or dizziness, consider reducing the intensity of your workouts or taking a break from exercising entirely.

Light exercise, such as walking or yoga, can be beneficial during the fast to maintain physical activity while not overly exerting the body. Always listen to your body and adjust your exercise routine according to your energy levels throughout the fasting experience.

Emotional and Spiritual Aspects

Fasting can lead to emotional and spiritual growth, as it provides an opportunity for introspection and self-reflection. The discipline and self-control required for a water fast can result in a sense of empowerment and a stronger mind-body connection, often pursued for religious or spiritual reasons.

During a 21-day water fast, you may experience a range of emotions as issues that were previously masked by food consumption come to the surface. Embracing these emotions and using the fasting experience for self-reflection can lead to a deeper understanding of your relationship with food and contribute to personal growth.

🍡 What Can You Drink During a Water Fast?

Surprisingly, not just water! I drank plenty of herbal teas and plain soda water. You can even drink coffee as long as it doesn’t have any sugar or milk in it. I would avoid adding sweeteners as well, just because I find that they make me feel hungrier when I’m fasting. A couple of coffee recipes I make regularly on a fast are French Press Espresso for a quick energy boost, and Greek Frappe without any sugar or sweetener. Sumac Tea is delicious as well. A tart treat for your tastebuds.

I also drank an electrolyte salt mixture which was essential to keep my body in check. Your body needs essential minerals to thrive. The formula for fasting juice (sometimes referred to as “snake juice”) was:

  • 1/2 tsp Food grade Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate – magnesium is important for many processes in the body, including regulating muscle and nerve function, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure and making protein, bone, and DNA.)
  • 1 tsp Lo-Salt (potassium chloride – Potassium is essential for the function of the heart, muscles, kidneys, nerves, and digestive system)
  • 1/2 tsp Pink Himalayan Salt (Sodium chloride (NaCl – salt) – an essential compound our body uses to absorb and transport nutrients, maintain blood pressure, and maintain the right balance of fluid.)
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda (sodium bicarbonate – often used to treat conditions caused by high acidity in the body, such as heartburn, which is a common side effect when fasting.)
  • Mix this up in 2 liters of water.
  • Drink the entire 2 liters daily.

It tasted absolutely disgusting, and I probably didn’t drink enough of it. Before my next fast, I want to experiment with making this more palatable.

For a more in-depth look into what you can drink on a water fast check out this post: What Can I Drink On A Fast?

πŸ“— My 21 Day Water Fast Diary

body weight loss progress pics, front

After day 9 it’s not very detailed, because nothing really changed.

  • Day 1: Pretty much normal. Hunger was normal, nothing too crazy. Good Sleep.
  • Day 2: Slight headache. I went for a long walk, felt fine but tired around 5pm. Hungrier, but taking supplements so it’s bearable. Sleep is fine.
  • Day 3. Woke up with a headache and feeling generally fatigued. I took supplements with water and felt more energetic. Still hungry, but it comes and goes.
  • Day 4: Massive hip, lower back, and leg pain. Headache is pretty much gone. Hunger pretty much gone.
  • Day 5: Felt great most of the day. Slight pain in the evening right before bed, but a heating pad took care of that nicely.
  • Day 6: Felt pretty normal, a little more tired than usual. No more pains.
  • Day 7. Had a bowel movement. Felt tired all day, and hungry. Upped my water intake.
  • Day 8: Feeling a bit better – less tired, taking more electrolytes really does help.
  • Days 9 – 12: Feel great! Occasionally tired but overall good for 10 day water fasting. Can’t exercise too hard – walking for 20 minutes seems to make me more tired but I feel good after. Plenty of yoga. Bowel movements days 9 and 11.
  • Days 13-21: No real change. Overall still a bit hungry (definitely want to eat), but nothing that I can’t mentally fight through. Feeling weak after exercise. 

πŸ’¦ Daily Water Fast Results

body water fast weight loss progress pics, side

For reference, I am 160cm/5ft3″:

  1. 66.6kg (146.8 lbs)
  2. 66kg 
  3. 63.1 kg
  4. 63.3kg
  5. 61.9kg
  6. 62.2kg
  7. 62.2kg
  8. 62kg
  9. 61.9kg
  10. 61.6kg – Note: If I had decided to do a 10 day water fast, I would’ve lost exactly 5kg (11lbs).
  11. 60.7kg
  12. 60.2kg
  13. 60.1kg
  14. 59.5kg
  15. 59.2kg
  16. 58.8kg
  17. 58.7kg
  18. 58.4kg
  19. 58.2kg
  20. 57.9kg
  21. 57.5kg (126.7 lbs)

Total loss: 9.1kg (20 lbs)

🍲 How I Broke My Water Fast

Having heard of refeeding syndrome, eating again was the main worry of my fast. After some research around the internet and Reddit, I decided that it was probably something I didn’t need to worry about too much. Generally, from the cases I read, this refeeding syndrome happens to severely malnourished people, and that just wasn’t me. If I fasted past 30 days it would be more of a concern.

My brother (who did his first extended fast in January of the same year) had an old book on fasting and breaking a longer fast. I loosely followed the advice for two days and then…had steak and chips. I do not recommend that (!), and next time I’ll move much more slowly into eating regular food. But here’s what I ate to get back into the swing of things (and I now feel fine):

My initial breaking of the fast:

Day 1: 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar in a pint of water, 250g passata (tomato juice/sauce) diluted 1:1 with water, and 1 knorr chicken stock pot added. It tasted amazing, just like tomato soup. I drank this slowly over about 3-4 hours. Then I had some apple juice, and eventually kimchi and sauerkraut for dinner. Felt great.
Day 2: More of the same, plus some eggs. Felt great.
Day 3: Steak, shrimp, fries: felt terrible.

🍽️ Breaking the Fast Safely

A smooth and safe transition back to regular eating requires you to break the fast gradually, avoid hard-to-digest foods, and observe your body’s reactions to the reintroduction of food.

Gradual Reintroduction

Food reintroduction should be done gradually after a 21-day water fast. Start by consuming fruit or vegetable juices, bone broths, and diluted vegetable juices. On the second day, you can begin introducing raw fruits and vegetables, as well as steamed vegetables and fermented foods.

Gradually increasing the amount of food consumed over several days can help your body readjust to regular eating patterns and prevent digestive discomfort. Always monitor your body’s reactions during the reintroduction phase and adjust your diet accordingly to ensure a smooth transition.

Foods to Avoid

When breaking the fast, you should steer clear of hard-to-digest foods like processed or high-fat items, fried foods, and sugary snacks to avert digestive discomfort. Instead, focus on consuming easily digestible foods that can stimulate the production of digestive juices, such as eggs, avocados, vitamin-rich juices, raw fruits and vegetables, broths, fermented foods, fresh fruits, vegetables, soups, and maybe a little dairy, like yogurt.

Monitoring Your Body

Monitoring your body’s reactions and adjusting your diet accordingly is key as you reintroduce food. If you experience fatigue or lethargy, reduce the amount of food intake, while if you feel revitalized, you may increase the amount of food.

Additionally, continue to support your body’s detoxification processes by consuming adequate amounts of water, herbal teas, and fiber-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Avoid processed foods and refined sugars to maintain the health benefits achieved during the fast.

Bethany Galloway before and after a 21-day water fast.

❀️ Results and Long-Term Benefits

The impressive outcomes and enduring advantages of a 21-day water fast encompass weight loss, health enhancements, and mental clarity along with emotional growth.

Weight Loss

A 21-day water fast can lead to significant weight loss, as it directly impacts your body weight, helping you to lose weight. I lost 9.1kg (20 lbs) over the fasting period.

Although regular food consumption might lead to some weight regain, the insights gained from the prolonged fasting experience about your relationship with food can be instrumental in long-term weight management.

Health Improvements

Health improvements from a 21-day water fast may include lower blood pressure, improved insulin sensitivity, and reduced inflammation. Participants in an observational study who fasted for 20 days experienced a mean reduction in weight of 8.6 kg (19 lbs) and improvements in several cardiovascular risk factors, such as obesity, abdominal circumference, and systolic blood pressure.

Adopting appropriate dietary habits post-fast and committing to a healthier lifestyle can help sustain these health benefits. Regular fasting can contribute to long-term health improvements and a better quality of life.

Mental Clarity and Emotional Growth

Fasting can contribute to mental clarity and emotional growth, as it allows for introspection, self-reflection, and a deeper understanding of your relationship with food. The discipline required for a water fast can result in a sense of empowerment and a stronger mind-body connection.

The emotional development during a 21-day water fast can foster a renewed sense of purpose and direction in life, enhancing self-awareness. By embracing the fasting experience, you can unlock your potential for personal growth and transformation.

πŸ’­ Summary & Final Thoughts

In conclusion, a 21-day water fast can be a transformative experience, providing profound physical, mental, and emotional benefits. By understanding the purpose and goals of the fast, preparing adequately, navigating the fasting experience, breaking the fast safely, and embracing the results and long-term benefits, you can unlock the potential of fasting and transform your life.

Remember, it’s essential to consult a medical professional before embarking on a water fast and to listen to your body throughout the experience. As you explore the world of fasting, you may discover newfound clarity, health, and a deeper understanding of your relationship with food.

❓ Frequently Asked Questions

How much weight can you lose in 21 day water fast?

You can lose 8-12 kg in a 21-day water fast, however, some of the weight may return when you resume eating. To maintain your reduced weight, it is important to follow a controlled diet afterward.

What does a 21 day water fast do to your body?

A 21 day water fast can have a significant effect on the body, including reducing body fat percentage, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides – making it an effective way to support weight loss.

Is it okay to fast for 21 days?

Fasting for 21 days may be safe and lead to improvements in physical and emotional wellbeing, if done with medical supervision. The results from a study of 1,422 subjects suggest that such a fasting period is well tolerated and provides numerous health benefits.

How much weight can you lose from water fasting for 20 days?

Fasting for 5 to 20 days can result in a weight loss of 7% to 10%, according to researchers. Those who fasted for 5 days lost about 4% to 6%, those who fasted for 7 to 10 days lost about 2% to 10%, and those who fasted for 15 to 20 days lost 7% to 10%.

Can I exercise during a 21-day water fast?

Light exercise can be beneficial during a 21-day water fast, such as walking or yoga. However, it is important to listen to your body and adjust your exercise routine accordingly based on energy levels.

Photos of a woman before and after a water fast.

πŸ˜‹ Recipes To Try (When Not Fasting!)

Have you ever tried fasting? We’d love to know <3 Tag us (@makehealthyrecipes) on Facebook and InstagramPin it on Pinterest, and please leave a star rating review below! Don’t forget to subscribe to the email list (top right of this page) for sparkly new recipes in your inbox.

πŸ“– How to make Electrolyte Water (Recipe)

Bethany Galloway before and after a 21-day water fast.

Electrolyte Water

Bethany Galloway
This water and salt formula is essential to keep your body functioning properly during an extended fast!
4.61 from 46 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Servings 9 8oz Glasses

Ingredients
  

  • 1/2 tsp Food Grade Epsom salts
  • 1/2 tsp Pink Himalayan Salt
  • 1 tsp Lo-Salt
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 2 liters water

Instructions
 

  • Mix all of the ingredients in a 2 liter jug of water.
  • Drink over the course of one day.
  • Mix with herbal tea for a better flavor.

Notes

Storage: Keep it in the fridge – it tastes best chilled!

Nutrition

Sodium: 1470mgPotassium: 907mg
Keyword electrolytes, extended fast, fast, fasting, water fast
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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34 Comments

    1. I did until I got pregnant, still working on the pregnancy weight gain. If I wasn’t breastfeeding I’d probably go ahead and do another fast.

      1. Wow you did incredible with the water fasting and providing these awesome details I truly appreciate it and ready to begin. Congrats on your pregnancy btw

          1. Sorry if I missed it in the write up, but how tall are you? I have almost the exact same starting weight

          2. I am 5ft3/160cm. I’ll edit the post and make sure that pops up a couple of times – it’s definitely handy to know!

          3. Hello, I am also starting this fast today but I was curious as to what supplements you took during this fast?

          4. Hi Lalanie,
            If you scroll to the recipe card, my daily Electrolyte Water recipe is there, and I also chat about it in section 2 called “What do you drink on a water fast?”. Hope that helps and good luck! Feel free to reach out with any more questions!

      2. I m also done 21 days water fasting in 1jan2022 . But I can’t maintained weight.. So my question is that when I started again long fasting???

    1. Honestly, I stopped taking them as soon as possible because I was sick of the taste! I didn’t continue them with the refeeding. I’m working on a better electrolyte recipe for next time as drinking salt is a little rough, even when you mix it with iced herbal tea. When refeeding, I tended to have food that had salt or I’d season it well (e.g. eggs, broth), or I’d have a fermented food like kimchi which is stored in a salty brine.

    1. I actually became pregnant pretty soon after fasting. I’m not too sure if the two are related. I managed to stay at a lower weight until I was pregnant though, (for around 3-4 months) not losing any extra – just maintaining. I wouldn’t say I necessarily ate healthier purposefully, but it was summer and I was swimming and grilling every day, eating fresh Greek produce from the market, so much more nutritious than my usual foods, and was more active as well.

  1. You indicated you used supplements; can you please detail those? I’m thinking of doing this and adding collagen peptides to my liquids to mitigate loss of muscle. Thoughts?

    1. Hi Alisa!
      If you scroll to the recipe card, my daily Electrolyte Water recipe is there, and I also chat about supplements in section 2 called β€œWhat do you drink on a water fast?”. I stuck to the simplest supplements (basically just the necessary ones), so I don’t have anything to report on collagen peptides while fasting. However, I’ve read that they are really good for you, and have taken some in my protein shakes but that was post-extended water fasting. The only thing I’m not sure about is if they would break the fast. My collagen peptides don’t list the calories, and over 50 cals would technically not be fasting anymore. Let me know if you try it and how it goes!

    1. I didn’t while I was fasting, but I did 3 months later, which coincided with both my pregnancy and also I was visiting a hot country for a month. I’m not sure if all 3 factors resulted in the hair loss, or if it was one thing in particular. It’s definitely something I’ll be looking out for the next time I do an extended fast or if I become pregnant again. My hair loss wasn’t terrible, just excess shedding to the point that my partner noticed more hair everywhere but it didn’t look too bad.

  2. Hello! Your water fasting journey is incredible! Congrats on all the success! I did have a question though, are the results noticeable? I’m trying to lose weight and fix my PCOS with water fasting for a month. I just wanted to know if like the changes are noticeable – health wise and physique wise?

    1. Thank you! Physically it was quite noticeable. Health-wise, I didn’t really feel much different afterward. A good sense of accomplishment, but health-wise I haven’t really seen any differences as of today.

  3. Hello! Thank you for such an inspiring sharing.
    I’m now on my day 4 water fast. One thing I’m curious about…did it cause any sagging skin after the fasting?

    1. Hi Annie!

      I didn’t experience any sagging skin, however, I didn’t have that much weight to lose. I imagine if I was a bit more overweight the sagging skin issue may have crept up. Good luck with your fast!

    1. Wow, hope it goes well for you, Rosslyn! Feel free to reach out if you have any questions.

      Cheers,
      Bethany

      1. Hi Bethany! Thanks for documenting this! I’m starting day one tomorrow! My biggest concern is giving up my coffee with heavy cream! I have lots of experience fasting but have always done a version of fasting while still enjoying my coffee. I’m excited to try β€˜water only’.
        Thank you for inspiring me!

        1. Hi Piper!
          Wishing you the best of health in your fasting journey! Funnily enough, I switched from coffee to tea when I fasted and haven’t really looked back! I have an occasional coffee every now and then but not the whole pot like I used to. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions while you fast.
          All the best,
          Bethany

  4. I’m on day 2 of my water fast! Starting weight was 74kg (I’m 5’7) and this morning I was disappointed to see I only lost 0.4kg but reading your progress put my mind at ease a little bit. I have to accept that it takes time. So far I have a bit of a headache but otherwise I’m doing pretty good. Also adding salt to the water fast is a game changer for me and I can see myself doing it on the regular! Your comment about β€œyou can do anything you put your mind to” was really inspiring thank you so much!! if you ever do another fast I’d love to read about it.

    1. Amazing! I’m glad it’s going well so far and that this post is useful. 0.4kg in a day is a great loss =] I’ve just finished breastfeeding so I’m doing alternate day fasting at the moment to work off the pregnancy weight. I’m tempted to do another extended fast but a little apprehensive as I need to be on the ball for my toddler. We’ll see though, you might see another post in a few months!
      Good luck with the rest of your fast!

  5. Hi
    Thank you for your post. Very informative and inspiring.
    Were you able to do another round of the extended fast? Also, did you notice any changes to your skin/eyesight while you were on the fast? Also, did you do a pre and post blood work up during the fast to document if there were any changes?

    1. Hi! Glad you liked the post. My skin had a few more blemishes than usual, but I didn’t notice a change in my eyesight. I did not have any blood work done at that time. I haven’t done another extended fast as I was breastfeeding for the last 2 years, but I’m tempted to do one soon. Hope your fasting journey is going well.

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