Three days. No food. Only water. Whoa. This was the adventure that I embarked on from August 18, 2018 until August 21.
But why, you ask? Primarily to lose a few stubborn final pounds. At that point I had lost about 19 pounds in 2018, but I still had seven pounds to go to hit my goal. I had been stalled for a couple of months and I was looking for something new to get me across the finish line.
I never would have tried a three day water fast unless I had heard about it on Kevin Rose's podcast. The idea of fasting always seemed attractive to me, but not eating anything for three days seemed pretty dangerous. After I heard Kevin introduce it as a thing that people did though, that lead me to do some research, and finally convinced me to go for it. In addition to the weight loss possibilities, I was also attracted by the concept of autophagy (which seems valid, but then again, what do I know).
Below is a hodgepodge of thoughts from my experience.
- Mild initial panic on Day 1. After about 18 hours or so or not eating, realizing that I had another 50+ hours to go I did feel a low-level sense of initial panic. This didn't last long and was very manageable, but if I hadn't done some research before starting I would have probably bailed at this point, fearing that I was about to do some serious harm to myself. Other than this issue though, Day 1 was pretty easy.
- Smooth sailing on Day 2. This was far and away the easiest and best day. I had no mild panic, completely manageable hunger pangs, and an overall sense of "hey, look at me, I'm doing it!". It definitely helped that I dropped three pounds by Day 2.
- Feeling poopy on Day 3. By the third day I felt pretty bad. When I woke up in the morning I felt weak and light headed, and it was difficult to pay attention to multiple things at the same time (more on this later). It helped though that I was now down five total pounds (in less than three days). On my way to work, with 12 hours still left to go, I definitely considered bailing and calling it quits. Then however, I realized that I hadn't had any water since the night before. As soon as I slammed some water down my throat, I felt better -- not great, but mangeably better. Even so, by around 5pm I had a splitting headache and I was ready for it to all be over.
- Fast Breaking Meal: I had done a good bit of research about what food to eat when breaking a fast. There was lots of competing advice but I ended up going with fruit and rice cakes. I went to Whole Foods right after work to grab the food and I started eating it before checking out. I probably had about 900 calories and I felt 100% better immediately.
- Overall it wasn't that bad. The whole process wasn't nearly as bad as you'd think. There were many times when I felt great, in fact -- better than normal. While I found that it was hard to context switch or multi-task (e.g., I had a hard time talking to someone and typing at the same time), I found it easier than normal to deep focus on one particular task. Also, one thing worth noting is that by Day 3 I felt pretty sore inside my stomach and chest -- similar to if I had done a ton of sit ups (that feeling went away within 36 hours of breaking the fast).
- Final weight loss results: I lost almost exactly five pounds in three days. I'm typing this now four days after the fast ended, and the scale says that I've added back 1.5 of those pounds. As a result then, I probably legitimately lost 3.5 pounds in three days. That may not sound like much, but if you've ever done serious dieting (where "aggressive" means losing two pounds in a week), these results are phenomenal.
Update (September 3rd, 2019): It's roughly two weeks later now and I'm back down to a full five pound loss from the water fast. Since I broke the fast I've eaten mostly low calorie (though I've had some cheat days). Point being: I think I really did lose (and keep off) a full five pounds from the fast!
- I'd do it again. Aside from Day 3, the process was pretty darn easy. I do think that I'd do another three day water fast in the future, and next time be more strategic about drinking water as soon as I wake up (and maybe even once during the night). Or, I might only fast for two days next time. Overall though, the whole adventure was mostly postive and worth repeating.