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?
This post was originally published on September 27th, 2021.
🗝️ 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:
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
📗 My 21 Day Water Fast Diary
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.
💦 Daily Water Fast Results
For reference, I am 160cm/5ft3″:
- 66.6kg (146.8 lbs)
- 63.1 kg
- 61.6kg – Note: If I had decided to do a 10 day water fast, I would’ve lost exactly 5kg (11lbs).
- 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.
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.
❤️ 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.
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 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.
💭 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
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.
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.
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.
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%.
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.
😋 Recipes To Try (When Not Fasting!)
- Whole30 Ramen Eggs (Ajitama)
- The Best Vegan Stir Fry
- Apple Pie Smoothie
- Lahanodolmades (Greek Stuffed Cabbage Leaves)
- Paleo Greek Stuffed Tomatoes
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📖 How to make Electrolyte Water (Recipe)
- 1/2 tsp Food Grade Epsom salts
- 1/2 tsp Pink Himalayan Salt
- 1 tsp Lo-Salt
- 1 tsp Baking Soda
- 2 liters water
- 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.