How a three day water fast can reboot and benefit the body

Two years ago, I finished a "Seven Apples in Seven Days" fast that was… well,  it was crazy – too difficult and too much weight loss. Yet it opened my mind (and research) to fasting, and 16-hour intermittent fasts became part of my (and my personal training clients') routine.

I'm in tune with my body, so after my apple experiment, I felt a three-day water fast would be a rest and test for my system. Yesterday, I finished it.

Here's how it went:

Sunday. The last supper.

At 6pm, I enjoy a nice Sunday meal of Asian pork belly with fresh coriander paired with lemon-butter broccolini while cherishing that last (oversized) red wine.

Day one

Motivation, hunger, and the toilet.

I wake at 6am, and technically I'm 12 hours down – easy, I think.

I get water into my body immediately. Then again, then again. Then the bathroom breaks begin. Throughout the day I consume countless glasses of water and spend much of the day staring down at the toilet.

Early in the day, hunger is manageable. Missing breakfast is no big deal, but by lunch my body signals the brain: "Mate, I'm ready. What's for lunch today?" I'm keen to exercise but understand a few days off while reserving energy is probably best. I'll be lazy and enjoy it.

When 6pm rolls around, the hunger is real. Socially, culturally, physically… I'm ready to enjoy dinner instead of abstaining and continuing to pee, pee, and pee. I head to bed at 9.30pm with a fusion of hunger-meets-committed feeling.


Day Two

Hunger settles in.

My alarm buzzes at five, and I'm greeted with next level of hunger. I open my fridge, perving at the eggs and kiwis I'd love to consume. My body has used up its carbohydrate reserves (stored as glycogen), which is its primary source of energy. Ketosis sets in, and fat becomes my body's source for energy.

Surprisingly, energy is still with me. I have personal training clients, so a bit of movement and motivation for myself and clients is challenging, but I face no major dramas. By midday, hunger is tangible. As I write, The Food Network is on, and I could lick the television screen as I watch them consuming oversized portions.

A friend messages for a couple of catch up beers in the city. I tell him I'm water fasting. He replies I'm a "f#$%ing idiot". Watching Married at First Sight is almost dumb enough to get my mind off this penetrating hunger.

Day Three

Energy shift and weight loss.

My alarm buzzes. My current state: New South Wales and bloody hungry.

Yet the hunger is a bit more dull and numb rather than sharply present, as in days one and two. Light is at the end of the tunnel – come sundown, I can eat again. In the afternoon, I exercise at 70 per cent and do a 15 minute session of push-ups, sit-ups, bicep curls, and barbell shoulder presses.

"I can eat less"

It's a powerful feeling to own, and 70 per cent of Australians could use a dose of that statement. There's a false sentiment of "If I miss a meal, I'll die". Trust me, you'll actually be healthier for it. I'm gratified that hipster burgers and fancy supermarket packaging tried to lure me in, yet the big food machine lost this battle. My body is healthier for it – it's mind over matter.

The benefits of a three day water fast: I see healthier eyes. I feel smoother skin. My heart rate is lower, and I'm equipped with a relaxed energy. Weight loss (2.5kgs). I'm focused yet relaxed with positive energy change. I'm rested. At times I'm a tad woozy, perhaps a bit euphoric.

Do I recommend it? Yes but no. How could I, unless you know your body quite well and/or speak with a health professional before, during and even after. If it's a route you choose, I'd recommend: Try one day first. Then the next week. And then again… If it's something you benefit from, only then ramp it up to three days.

It's time to eat.

Handmade pasta with pumpkin and chorizo in a burnt butter and thyme sauce with pecorino cheese is my meal of choice. Green is required so broccolini is steaming as well. A bottle of Australian Shiraz will be opened. Fasting has been a challenge, but it's time to refuel while surrendering to my taste buds.

I'm not superstitious. I don't read star signs. But there's something yogi-spiritual about a water fast in giving the body and digestive system a much-needed rest. I feel and see the benefits. It's all part of a "less is more" message that our gluttonous culture should take notice of.

Passion for lifestyle change is the cornerstone for everything Michael Jarosky does. A Sydney-based personal trainer, he cajoled thousands of Executive Style readers to undertake his "Cut The BS" diet, and champions a charity weight-loss event, Droptober.

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Have you found intermittent fasting successful with weight control? Share your experience in the comments section below.