Studies around the world revealed that fasting, when done properly, can help you lose weight and improve your wellbeing. One of the most popular fasts that hit the internet was the 3-Day Water Fast. As a dieter who wanted to lose weight and kickstart my metabolism, I was naturally curious.
How do you do the 3-Day Water Fast, and what kind of results should you expect? A 3-Day Water Fast requires you to eat nothing and drink water for three straight days. Results can be pretty shocking, with both fat loss and water weight loss regularly reported.
I’ll admit it. I decided to give the 3-Day Water Fast a try, if only because it seemed like an interesting challenge that could help me avoid doing the dishes.
Here’s what you need to know about the 3-Day Water Fast and what it does to your body, from someone who’s done it.
The 3-Day Water Fast is an underground fad diet that has you go for three full days without food.
Though calorie-free drinks and fruit-infused waters are allowed, you cannot have any form of food while you are on this fast.
In terms of results, it’s a mixed bag. You absolutely will see a weight change, but not all of it is fat.
Most people will see 1 to 2 pounds of weight loss per day, around half a pound of which is actual fat loss every day.
What Happens To Your Body During A Water Fast?
Going through a water fast is not something you can take lightly. Like any other fast, it’s important to remember that this is a relatively extreme short-term diet.
In order to fully understand what you’re getting into, it’s important to understand what effects you can expect.
The Benefits Of Water Fasting
The concept of a water fast seems pretty extreme, but then again, so are the results. The biggest draw of a water fast is that you can lose up to two pounds per day, with much of that weight being genuine fat loss.
Other benefits are a little more anecdotal. These include:
- Reduced Cravings. Most dieters who try this method find that working with diets is a lot easier. Cravings just don’t happen after you finish the fast.
- Higher Energy Levels. Many people notice that they feel more energetic after fasting. This is due to the detoxing fasting can offer, along with the boost your brain gets during a fast.
Your brain can become overactive after eating, using the energy provided to go into overdrive.
During fasting, your body is placed in a much more conservative setting. Energy reserves are low, and your brain must slow down and focus on being efficient.
- Reduced Risks Of Illness. Regular water fasting has been linked to lower rates of certain cancers and diabetes.
Research found that, the cells seemed to become optimized by the fasting and were better able to better clear the body of a familiar infection.
- Slower Aging. Certain studies have shown that people who fast regularly live longer and also have fewer signs of aging.
Water fast can slow down the degradation of DNA, which is what occurs when we age, and accelerates DNA repair, thus slowing down the aging process.
Of course, weight loss is still the most common benefit of fasting. That’s why I chose to do it, too.
Will The Weight Pick Back Up Again?
Oh, this is a million-dollar question! Unfortunately, it varies from person to person. That being said, you should expect at least some of the weight to come back on again. Weight loss during fasts isn’t easy to keep off.
After you water fast, you will be able to keep a small portion of the weight off as long as you stick to a healthy diet. However, any water weight you lost is likely to come back on again.
How To Water Fast Safely
Just like with almost anything else under the sun, there’s a right way to water fast and a wrong way to do it. Since this is considered to be a procedure that can affect your health, it’s in your best interest to do it the right way.
This guide will make sure you have all the knowledge you need to reduce your risk.
The Risks Of Water Fasting
Water fasting, just like any other crash diet, can cause problems with your health if you are reckless or if you have preexisting health conditions. These risks include:
- Blood sugar crashes. Because you’re not eating anything, your blood sugar may have sudden drops. This can cause dizziness, shakes, and, at worst, fainting.
- Electrolyte imbalances. Another issue that people can have a sudden drop in food intake is an electrolyte imbalance. This can be fatal if ignored, though it’s a rare risk.
- Lethargy and dizziness. Food is fuel. When you don’t have food, your body will feel like it’s running on fumes. This includes feeling lethargic or dizzy.
- Brain fog. Anecdotally speaking, some people also tend to get a brief period of “brain fog,” where it’s difficult to focus.
Most of these risks are easy to avoid if you practice fasting safely and make a point of checking to see if you’re a good candidate for water fasting.
When To Avoid Water Fasting?
Though water fasts can be great for your health, they also are not for everyone. Going without any type of food or sugar is not easy on your body, which is why this isn’t a universally-advised choice. If any of the following are true, you should not attempt this fast:
- You’re pregnant or nursing. It’s understandable to want to lose that baby weight, but this could cause your child to become malnourished too. Studies also shows that fasting may increase the likelihood of the baby being disabled as an adult
- You are under 18 or over 65. Water fasts are not advised if you are not a healthy adult.
- You have hypoglycemia, diabetes, or any other blood sugar issue. These health issues require you to have food on a regular schedule. Skipping a meal can be potentially fatal.
- You have gout. Trying this fast while you have gout can exacerbate your condition.
- You’re taking medication that needs to be taken with food. You should never risk taking medicine without following instructions. You never know how your body will react!
Generally speaking, the best way to make sure you are fasting safely is to sit down with your doctor and explain what you want to do.
If they approve it, you should be okay. If not, it’s best to try a different type of fasting, such as intermittent fasting, to get the results you want.
Before You Begin…
Water fasting is not something you should do without looking into it first, even if you are in decent shape. Generally speaking, people who have these qualities tend to be the best candidates for this fast:
- They have no pre-existing conditions that involve dietary restrictions. This means that you’re not diabetic, pregnant, hypoglycemic, or anemic.
- You have experience fasting. This is not a beginner’s fast. Try other fasts first.
- You are not obese. Obese people are more prone to blood sugar issues and sudden crashes than people who are at a healthy weight.
If you check off these boxes, you should be alright. However, it’s always a good idea to talk to your primary care provider before you try a fast. If they give you the green light, you’re ready to go!
Part of doing a water fast safely is knowing that you can’t just dive in head first. You need to prepare your body for the fast.
For the first couple of days prior to your fasting session, it’s a good idea to soften the shock of going foodless for days.
The best way to do this is to gradually decrease your meals in the days leading up to the fast and avoid drinking alcohol in the days leading up to the big event.
Even just eating half your regular portion can make a huge difference in your body’s reaction to the fast.
Prep Your Mind
Fasting can be a mental war as well, and that’s no joke. The good news is that prepping your mind for it is actually fairly simple. Here are some smart tips you can use to prep your mind:
- Start with small exercises that improve discipline. Even choosing to work out regularly can help you solidify your discipline enough to stick to your plan.
- Remind yourself why you are doing this fast, and frame it as something you deserve to do for yourself. You deserve a healthier body. You deserve to have more energy!
During Fasting: What To Expect?
Water fasts are intense, no lie. If you are new to water fasting, it may be difficult to know what to expect.
The Rules Of The 3-Day Water Fast
Water fasts have a handful of strict rules that will make or break your fasting results. In order to perform a water fast safely and effectively, you will need to follow these rules below:
- You cannot eat food during the duration of the fast. It’s true, and it’s also what makes a water fast so challenging for newbie dieters. You can’t have anything other than water and tea.
- Keep exercise minimal to light. Not taking in any calories for three days can make you very woozy at the gym. You don’t want to exert yourself too much.
- Avoid operating heavy machinery or driving if you get dizzy. That should go without saying, right? If it gets to be too much, cease your fast and eat something.
- Drink two to three liters of water and tea daily while you fast. Hydration is the key here. The water doesn’t just keep you hydrated; it also flushes out your system and keeps you full on your fast.
- You’re only allowed to drink water, lime water, or tea during this time. No sodas, coffee, or other drinks allowed. Other drinks can add calories to your fast (major no-no) or just exacerbate fasting side effects.
- If you’re feeling very hungry, crunch on ice cubes or have ice shavings. You’d be surprised at how well this can help you avoid feelings of hunger.
- Expect your bathroom trips to change. Because water will be diluting your electrolytes, you should expect your urine to become very light in color–possibly even clear.
- Watch out for diarrhea. Diarrhea is the most common side effect of fasting, and it’s often caused by the sheer amount of water that goes through your GI tract. Stay close to a bathroom and have a small pinch of salt if you notice this happening to you. The salt can help balance your electrolytes out.
- Cease your fast immediately if you feel seriously sick. If you experience extreme weakness, fainting, blackouts, mood swings, or serious GI tract problems, stop your fast immediately.
Side Effects To Watch Out For
Considering that you’re actively refusing food for three days straight, you have to expect your body to have a little bit of a reaction to the big change. Side effects are fairly common with this fast. Here’s what to expect and how you can mitigate them:
- Bathroom Trips. Along with regular pee breaks due to the increased water intake, there’s a good chance that you may have several major bowel movements during the fast. This is your body’s way of clearing things out.
- Irritability or Hyperactivity. This is yet another symptom of detox. Thankfully, the irritability tends to go away after the first day and a half.
- Dizziness. Dizziness is normal during a long-term fast. If it gets to be too unbearable, it might be a good idea to end your fast prematurely.
- Bad Breath. When you’re not eating, bacteria tend to multiply in your mouth at a faster rate. The easiest way to fight bad breath on the water fast is to drink more water or just switch things up with some lime water instead.
- Body Odor and Sweats. Though this is a bit rarer than other side effects on this list, it still can happen. This is a sign that your body is removing toxins effectively and cleaning itself out well.
If you’re concerned about side effects, it’s a good idea to chart how you feel each day. This will give you the ability to see how the fast is making you feel when it’s working, and if you should cease your fast.
How Long Do You Water Fast?
As the name suggests, you can water fast for up to three days. However, you don’t have to fast for three days if you don’t want to or if you’re not really physically capable of it. As long as you fast for one day, you’re good to go.
Fasting, even for a single day, can help you drop weight and flush out trace amounts of toxins. The longer you fast, the more toxins get cleared out, and the more weight you lose. That being said, it’s best to try to fast for at least two days to guarantee more noticeable results.
After Fasting: How To Eat After Your Water Fast
Once you’re done with the actual fasting part, it’s important to maximize the results by following up with some healthy eating. Here’s what diet experts suggest doing once your 72 hours of fasting are up…
- Re-introduce food slowly, in small portions. Your stomach may have shrunk since you haven’t eaten in a while. Considering that, you don’t want to immediately dive into a giant plate of food. Portions should be minimal, with your meals being no more than 350 calories apiece.
Doing so could put you at risk of potentially-lethal refeeding syndrome. Start eating slowly and build up to full meals over the course of three days. The best foods to start with are fresh vegetables, leafy greens, savory broths, and foods rich in probiotic content.
- Keep foods healthy. Part of the reason why water fasts work so well is that they detox you. So, knowing that you’ve cleaned out your body, you don’t want to reintroduce toxins to it too quickly. Say no to junk foods like soda, alcohol, cookies, or fast food.
- Consider starting your new diet afterward. If you wanted to turbo-boost a diet or make it easier to stick to a plan, now would be the best time to kick off a new lifestyle.
- Take multivitamins. You might be a little low on certain nutrients like iron or vitamin A, so it makes sense to replenish what you’ve lost. A generic multivitamin is a great way to replenish your goods.
- Remind yourself that you were able to accomplish this fast. Water fasts are no walk in the park! You should take some time to congratulate yourself on this and remind yourself that you have serious willpower. Celebrate that!
After your fast, you should start to feel more alert and ready for action. So, don’t be surprised if you feel like going for a walk or hitting the gym.
How Often Can You Water Fast?
Water fasting is fairly intense. It’s easy to overdo it, so if you want to make this a routine part of your life, it’s a good idea to space things out. Doing it once a month, max, is a wise choice. That being said, you probably should talk to a doctor when you make this decision.
My 3-Day Water Fast Results
When I kicked off my fast, it took about two days before I stopped being totally hungry. There were moments where I really had to fight myself to walk away from the kitchen, and at points, I almost felt angry about volunteering for this mission.
By day two, it was like a switch flipped. Something started to kick in. I started to crave food less and less as the day progressed.
Food started to feel almost foreign to me. I started to be okay with it, and that’s when I was able to get the strength to push through.
After the third day, I weighed myself and lost about six pounds. I felt better, had more energy, and also got a confidence boost from it.
Even though the overall results are pretty clear to see, there’s still a little bit more I want to point out about this fast.
Before & After Water Fast
The biggest thing that I noticed after doing a water fast wasn’t the weight loss. Rather, it was the more subtle changes that my body went through during the fast and how it changed the way I live. Here’s what I was like before and after…
I like to think of myself as fairly health-conscious, but I still had a lot of issues I needed to address when I first started my fast. Here were some of the bigger ones that I had:
- Bowel Issues. Maybe it’s because I’m no longer 20, or maybe it was just a bad diet. Either way, regularity was an issue.
- Cravings. Did you ever randomly wake up at 2 AM with a strong craving for ice cream or nachos? No? Okay, that was just a regular occurrence in my life before.
- Brain Fog. I couldn’t concentrate as well as I once could.
- Lethargy. I was beginning to suspect that my diet was making it hard for me to stay awake. I didn’t want to do anything but snuggle up in bed and sleep!
I’ll start off by talking a little more about my mental state first. During the fast, I had one day of serious mental struggle and two days of relative comfort.
By the end of the third day, I actually had to fight myself in order to start eating again. Wild, isn’t it?
In terms of physical symptoms, the one issue I really had (aside from hunger) was the urge to pee every hour or so. I really couldn’t stay too far away from the bathroom! Overall, it was surprisingly, not that bad.
Once I finished the fast, all of the issues I listed above changed for the better. In fact, I also got a couple of other perks along the way, too. Here’s what my body was like after the fast:
- Regularity. Bathroom trips were no longer a problem. The water flushed my system out during day two, and I was regular ever since.
- Greater Interest In Healthy Food. I no longer craved greasy, sugary foods. My palate changed to favor foods that were lighter, healthier, and fresher. To a point, I started to view food as fuel rather than food.
- Better Focus and Energy. Don’t ask me why, but going on that water fast made my body snap to attention. I was on point throughout my workdays following the experiment.
- A Smaller Stomach. Try as I might, I couldn’t eat the same large quantities of food I once was used to eating. That water fast shrunk my stomach.
- Water Cravings. Rather than craving soda, I started to be more interested in drinking water after the fast. This was a welcome change and made it easy to pick up good habits.
Another major change that happened dealt with my mindset. I felt accomplished for sticking to the fast. I felt more confident in my ability to lose weight and stick to a diet.
Notes About The Weight Loss
The one thing that many dieters and potential fast partakers need to know is what kind of weight loss they will have after the fast.
It is true that you can lose up to six pounds in three days during this fast. However, not all of the weight loss is due to fat loss. The majority of it is due to water weight loss.
That being said, there is some legitimate fat loss that happens during your fast. You can expect to lose up to ½ a pound of fat per day. That makes it a fairly worthwhile way to kickstart a new diet.
Though I did lose quite a bit of weight, around half of it came right back on when I started eating again. This is to be expected since that was water weight, and the food I eat tends to help my body absorb water.
After I tried this three-day fast, I really saw a major change in the way that my body looked and felt. Heck,
I noticed a serious change in the way I saw myself. Doing this fast was a great choice for me, and I honestly can see it making a big change in the lives of others, too.
That being said, this isn’t something that everyone should pursue. There are risks involved, and it really does take a lot of willpower to stop eating for three days straight. However, if you are healthy enough to give it a try and are able to do it, then make it happen, it’s a great experience.
Would I do it again? Absolutely, and I intend to. The fast really wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, and it absolutely made starting my new long-term diet a breeze. It was an excellent way to kick off a new lifestyle.