Wednesday, January 23, 2008


So I'm toying with the idea of trying an extended fast sometime in the next couple of months. Has anyone ever done this? I don't mean a 12 or 24 hour fast but more along the 7-day deal or something like that. I've been reading A LOT about that stuff recently and the more I read the more it seems like a healthy thing to do once or twice a year to clear our the system and give it a chance to repair a bunch of damage that occurs during modern living.

The thing is, unless you grow your own stuff you are going to be taking in a lot of garbage with what you eat. That stuff builds up and causes all sorts of weirdness to happen. So I want to give a fast a try and see what happens.

From what I can gather, day 2 and 3 are REALLY bad. After about 24 hours your body stops the digestion process and starts processing fat and such from your reserves. The toxins that you take in are mostly stored in the fat so your bloodstream just gets flooded with this crap. Additionally once the digestion process stops your body can start looking for dead or damaged cells and start to fix them. Between these two actions your can have 10x the toxicity in your blood than you normally have. This leads to, apparently, a REALLY BAD TIME for a couple of days while your body gets rid of all this crap that has been building up. The more toxic you are, the worse it is. Apparently it can be similar to a really bad hang over, vomit included. All kinds of weird crap comes out of your body in all kinds of weird ways. Sounds positively delightful.

However, once you get past that 2 day hellish period things start to look up and start to cycle between these really intense highs and these more mild lows as your body switches between detox and healing cycles. By the time you get to the end of the fast (if you do it for 7 days in a water fast) your body has more or less cleansed itself off the majority of toxins and your digestive track has regenerated itself. Several other systems reset and, apparently, you feel fricken awesome for quite some time. Then if you fast once a week for 24 hours or so and/or do a 7-day water fast twice a year you can maintain a more healthy system and those two days won't be as hellish.

So, wtf, right? I just feel like I am full of garbage in my system. I've been eating super healthy the past two weeks and have noticed a marked difference in my energy and mood. I just keep coming back to thinking if just eating a lot of fruit and nuts and cutting out the majority of processed foods can make that much of a difference, what would really cleaning my system out and resetting do? Everything I read about it and people I talk do that have done an extended fast all tell me that it really makes a difference.

There are two different types of fasts. A water fast, which is just absolutely brutal but is the shorter 7-10 day one. And a juice fast which is much longer but a lot more gentle. My current plan is to make an appointment with my doctor next week to talk to him about it. I am leaning to the 30 day juice fast but I'd like to see if he would be willing to monitor me to make sure the toxicity doesn't get to such a level that I my body can't deal with it. I'm also not sure how to deal with my medication in a fast. So I figure with his guidance I can give this a shot sometime in February or March and see what happens. If (when) I do it I will be updating my blog with my experience as it goes (I hope) with the good, the bad and the ugly.



Silent Joe said...

your body still needs nutrients. Calories for your daily activities can be pull from fat reserves but you start pulling minerals and vitamins from the body, you will get sick. If you are doing the juice one, and one I recommend over the water, is to get a juice with zero calories, zero everything except has lots of nutrients. Also you have to limit your intake of this juice. You can really throw your body off balance with any fasting and can get really sick. I know a person that tried it and actually ended up in the hospital with an IV drip doing the water version.

Water is good for you but not as your only intake.

Oh and plan to have a major headache for at least 3-5 days at the start of it. That is your body burning off toxins and lack of nutrients. Maybe mix with some all natural basic herbs to keep your balance of healthy nutrients up where you need it. Will help a bit with the headaches but you WILL get headaches.

- Joe

Kirsten said...

Have you checked out the Master Cleanse?
I think the lemons and maple syrup actually give you some nutrients that you need....I had a friend that tried this and swears by it! He has done it a couple of times w/great results. good luck!

Bunny said...

Wow, I'm impressed. I will be very anxious to hear how this works for you. I'm also curious to see what your doctor will say when you ask about it. I would predict a very scientific doctor to think this is all holistic voodoo and that he will tell you you're nuts. Not that I think you are. I absolutely know that my body feels better when I feed it good things and it feels worse when I feed it a bunch of cookies. (But boy do the cookies make me feel better in my head...I suppose this is a problem) I am very intrigued to see what happens with this.

James said...

So, I had a colonoscopy last spring. Let me tell you, the prep for that is a *VERY* cleansing experience. Unfortunately, it's pretty you have approximately 24-36 hours of complete misery before the procedure. After the procedure, they told me to have a very light meal to ease my system back into normal mode. Instead, I went to 5 Guys Burgers, had a bacon double cheeseburger and a big thing of fries, then walked next door to Cold Stone Creamery for ice cream. So much for easing back into things, but boy did it feel great to stuff myself after a day and a half of not eating (and being rapidly "cleansed").

Anyway, in all seriousness, I echo what Bunny says about healthier foods making me feel better. Fasting sounds interesting, but a little too drastic for me. I'd rather commit to being a vegan for a month or something like that.

EJ said...

I think before you do this, you should also look more closely at the physiological response of your metabolism to this. I am not sure at what point your body will turn to basically eating its own muscle, but that is something you need to look at.
I'm also very interested in what your doctor has to say regarding this.
If you do this, make sure to also have a plan for AFTER and how to normalize your metabolism.

Ryan said...

Thanks for the feedback everyone.

I have looked a lot into this and particularly into the physical and psychological effects it has on the body. As I went over in the original post they can be pretty extreme in the begining as a result of the body detoxing itself but ultimately, it repairs itself. In other words, the body feeding off muscle, protein defiency, etc can happen but only with very long fasts. The muscle bit in particular recovers within 5 or so days after the fast ends.

In any case, I'm pretty sure my doctor will be in on it so I'll be in good hands from that perspective. Although it may take some blood though. Ick.

Antijen said...

There's a lot to be said for fasting, just look at its history in all sorts of cultures. It's supposed to help you balance your psyche and connect with yourself or with your spiritual boss in the sky, and it is definitely healthy for you to stop eating junk for a while. But your body repairs stuff better when you're giving it food - why do you think weightlifters take in so much protein while they're trying to build up muscle? If you want to do your body a real favor, change your diet to a healthier one for good, not shock it into submission by starving it for a week.

Oh, and while some "toxins" (lord, I hate that word, EVERYTHING is a toxin in a high enough concentration) can build up in fat cells over time, such as organic-compound pesticides, it's not the huge increase of these in your bloodstream that will make you feel like hell, it's the hypoglycemia and the ketoacidosis you'll have after a day or two.

And if you have nothing at all but water, you will fuck up your electrolyte balance, which is a very bad idea. You need sodium and potassium and chloride in the right concentrations, or you will die.