I recently decided to follow a 24 hour water fast. I know it sounds crazy - only drinking water for 24 hours and not eating food. But there are so many health benefits to fasting. Fasting has been around for thousands of years. Mostly commonly known are religious fasts, which are part of a spiritual practice that shows sacrifice and cleansing oneself. (Source: Cultural Awareness)
Fasting can last for several hours or several days. The health benefits will depend on the length of the fast. A type of fasting that has become very popular is intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting is when you decide to restrict the number of hours that you eat food. It can be for 10 hours, 8 hours or 6 hours. The goal is not to reduce the number of calories you eat but to reduce the time that you are eating. It should really be called intermittent eating!
By restricting the amount of time you are eating, you are allowing your body to take a break from processing and digesting food. Let's face it, we could eat 24 hours a day if we wanted! Food is always readily available. Now, the body can focus on healing.
The specific healing process that the body enters when fasting is called autophagy. It means auto (self) phagy (eating). While that doesn't sound pleasant, stick with me. Autophagy is an important process that allows the body to purge damaged cells and create new, healthier cells. Unfortunately, this process naturally slows as we age. Just when we need it the most!
When damaged cells are allowed to stay in our bodies, they cause disease and inflammation. Proactively choosing to give our bodies time to get rid of these damaged cells means the new cells are able to decrease the oxidative stress that happens during every day living. (Source: AAPTIV) Some of the health benefits of autophagy are:
Blood Sugar regulation by reducing insulin resistance. Decreasing insulin resistance can increase your body’s sensitivity to insulin, allowing it to transport glucose from your bloodstream to your cells more efficiently. Combined with the potential blood sugar-lowering effects of fasting, this could help keep your blood sugar steady, preventing spikes and crashes in your blood sugar levels.
Fights Inflammation. Some studies have found that fasting can help decrease levels of inflammation and help promote better health.
Supports healthy weight and increases metabolism. one review showed that whole-day fasting could reduce body weight by up to 9% and significantly decrease body fat over 12–24 weeks. Another review found that intermittent fasting over 3–12 weeks was as effective in inducing weight loss as continuous calorie restriction and decreased body weight and fat mass by up to 8% and 16% respectively. (Source: Healthline)
Fasting may protect the good bacteria in your gut. When your gut bacteria are protected, you will have a healthier immune system. Almost 75% of our immune system lives in our gut. If the gut is unhealthy, so is the immune system. (Source: Shape)
How do you know if your gut is unhealthy? Does any of this sound like you?
👉Diarrhea and/or constipation
👉Bloating and gas
👉Congestion, coughing, wheezing
👉Brain fog, difficulty recalling words, short term memory issues
👉Headaches and migraines
👉Hives and itchy skin
👉Tired all the time
👉Sensitivity to fragrances and chemicals
If you said yes to even one of the above, your gut is unhealthy. Learning how to make it healthy so you can stop suffering can be hard!
I am a Certified Holistic Nutritionist obsessed with teaching people just like you how to heal their gut so you can stop suffering and get back to living!
I offer a FREE 30 minute call where we will talk about your specific symptoms and how the Simply Great Health program can help. Fasting is just one of the complimentary therapies that can restore your gut health and get you on your way to a healthier life.
How would eliminating your symptoms improve your life? You could:
✅Be more present with your children
✅Thrive in your career
✅Improve your communication and your relationships
✅Have more fun!
✅Move your body and improve your fitness
✅Lose weight and feel better about yourself
✅Be able to cook healthy meals for you and your family
✅Take an active vacation
✅Reclaim your life!
Simply Great Health is a customized 5 Step plan that heals your gut and fits your busy lifestyle.
It’s very simple. No jumping through hoops and NO PRESSURE.
If we determine it’s not a fit, we’ll go our separate ways for now.
If it is a fit, we can take the next step and get you started on the path to healing.
Now that you know some of the benefits of fasting, here is how to prepare for a successful 24 hour water fast.
1) Start with intermittent fasting.
It would be really painful for anyone to go from eating their normal routine to not eating for 24 hours. The body would be in total denial that it isn't getting food, making it a very uncomfortable process. If the fast is too uncomfortable, you will break the fast and then feel frustrated that you couldn't achieve your goal.
Intermittent fasting is the easiest way to get to a 24 hour water fast. Start slow. Try 12 hours of fasting. Then work your way up over time. Make sure to take advantage of sleep time for the fast. I typically practice 16 hour intermittent fasting 4 days a week. I stop eating at 6:00 PM and don't eat again until 10:00 AM. I take advantage of anywhere from 7-9 hours of sleep. That makes it so much easier to not wake up and eat something immediately.
2) Drink up to 32 ounces of water when you wake up.
We are constantly dehydrated. No one drinks enough water. We need to drink half our body weight in ounces every single day. By drinking water when you first wake up, you are starting the cycle of hydrating.
While fasting water is even more important. First, it will help to keep your stomach full while you aren't eating. Second, it will help to stimulate a bowel movement in the morning. Finally, it will set you up to avoid constipation when you come off the 24 hour fast.
During a fast, your body is not processing food. When you break the fast and start to eat food with fiber, if there isn't enough water in your body, you will be constipated. Becoming constipated after a fast creates a negative experience. Fasting is so good for our bodies that having a great experience will keep you motivated to do it again.
3) Listen to your body.
During any fast, intermittent or 24 hours, you must listen to your body. When I started intermittent fasting, I could do 12 and 14 hours without any issue. Getting to 16 hours took time. I needed 4 to 5 weeks for my body to get used to it. The key was I didn't beat myself up when I had to abandon 16 hours for 15 because I really needed food. I continued to work on it. I knew eventually my body would get to the point where 16 hours was easy.
4) Fast when you are ready.
Don't fast just because it is popular and other people you know are doing it. Do it when you are ready. If you aren't mentally prepared, fasting may not work for you. Also, some people can work while they are fasting, others cannot. Fasting for the first time may be more difficult if you need to get a lot of stuff done, such as getting children to activities or making sure they are doing school work at home or having to juggle work along with children at home.
Being able to take time for yourself while you are fasting might be necessary. I found on the 24 hour water fast that as the time got closer to the 24 hours, I needed to be distracted. I took short walks. I drank water and herbal tea with nothing in it (no nut milk or honey). But what I also found, which was really shocking to me, is that when I took those short breaks, I had really creative thoughts.
Creative thoughts about a project I am working on, creative thoughts about my business, creative thoughts about life. It was really amazing how late in the fast I was able to have such energizing thoughts. Taking short walking breaks may not work for you. Maybe you need to take a few minutes to lie down. Maybe some time listening to music or writing in a journal. Maybe stretching your body for a few minutes. The point is to be prepared with an activity that you love so when the fast feels a little difficult, you can focus energies elsewhere.
Those are my tips for a successful 24 hour water fast. Overall, when you are trying something new it takes time to get used to it. Starting with small, actionable steps is the key to success. As you get more skilled at fasting, you can take it further. Now that I've completed one 24 hour water fast, I plan on practicing it twice a month.
As my body gets used to twice a month, I'll wait for the signals that I am ready for 48 hours. I may start with 36 hours first. Just to test my body and mind to see how I do. I know that by taking small steps, I am building a new routine. If I fail at 36 hours, I will try it again. The body is amazingly resilient. All we have to do is listen to it and challenge it.
Do you think you will try fasting? Do you already fast and have some tips and tricks to share? Let me know by leaving a comment below.