I Fasted for 7 Days on Water. This Is What Happened (Diary of a 7-Day Fast)

Monday Feb 15 | BY |
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My menu for 7 days

My menu for 7 days

On February 1st, I arrived at the True North Health Center in Santa Rosa, California, and embarked on a 7-day water fast. This is my story of what happened.

Why fasting?

I’m not new to fasting. I’ve done a few short fasts (2-4 days), many one-day fasts, and one 23-day water fast. Two years ago, I also visited True North for a 5-day water fast.

Over the past few months, I’ve even been fasting one day a week for 36 hours. It might sound like I’m addicted to fasting. But in fact, if you exclude the one-day fasts, I’ve only fasted a few times in my life.

Most people who try a long water fast do so for therapeutic reasons. Water fasting is extremely useful in assisting the body in healing hypertension, auto-immune diseases, acute illness, and many types of chronic health problems, especially if they are caused by the Western diet. Fasting could also be a powerful tool to prevent cancer, boost the immune system, and possibly even slow down the aging process.

When I fasted for 23 days on water, I was sold on the benefits of fasting and thought of it as a potentially “miracle” therapy. I was 28 years old at the time, and I thought that fasting might heal my nearsightedness, and the acne I tend to have on my back since my teens. It did none of that. However, I discovered that fasting was a powerful spiritual tool.

Although my 23-day fast was very challenging, I came out of it with a new sense of direction for my life — a newfound power and energy that lasted me for several years and propelled my business and my life in a new direction.

The reason I sometimes go on a water fast for more than a day is because I believe in its therapeutic, preventative and spiritual benefits. It’s worked for me in the past, and that’s why it’s part of my life.

I decided to go on a 7-day water fast because I’m going to turn 40 next month. I figured it would be a great way to create a sense of ‘fresh” energy in my life and also enjoy some of the physical benefits of fasting.

Before the Fast

I prepared myself for the fast by eating a very clean diet throughout the month of January. Not only did I eat my usual plant-based diet, but I also made sure to avoid eating out and not eating a single drop of oil. I also avoided nuts, seeds, and avocados as an experiment.

In the two days leading to the fast, I ate only fruits and vegetables.

The only thing I could not give up was caffeine. You see, I was still drinking green tea every day and coffee once or twice a week. This caffeine addiction is very hard to break for me. I knew I had to give it up for the fast, to avoid the caffeine-withdrawal headaches. But I didn’t manage to do so. The best I could do was to switch to green tea exclusively the week before the fast, and reduce somewhat the quantities that I drink.

I arrived at True North on February 1st and got settled in my room. That night, I had a big migraine headache from the caffeine withdrawals (and all the traveling from Montreal). At that moment, I wished I had given up caffeine before the fast!

The next day I met with Dr. Klaper, one of the great doctors working at True North. He did my initial consultation and declared me “an expert on fasting” and wasn’t too worried about my fast. Blood tests would be done in a day or two to go along with my consultation.

The next day, my water fast started. Here’s what happened…

My Fasting Diary

Note: I also recorded daily videos during my fast that I posted on my Facebook page.

Day 1

Day one was no big deal. Fasting an entire day and going to bed on an empty stomach? No problems, I’ve been doing that once a week for the past three months. But it’s only “easy” when you get to eat the next day.

Weight: 163.8

Day 2

Hunger games. Though determined not to spend any time thinking or thinking about food during this fast (after all, I’ll be able to eat all the food I want after the fast), I end up being hungry all day and images and thoughts of food pop up all the time. I go to bed at 7 p.m. and get up at 7 a.m. and sleep maybe 9-10 hours. In my dreams, I’m sharing a giant granola bowl with my mom and we dice a huge mango in it, which surprisingly has a white flesh.

Weight: 162

Day 3

I wake up feeling great and end up having a long chat with my roommate James, who’s already several days into his fast. I feel positive and as energetic as someone can feel during a fast. The only issue is a mild, low-grade headache that probably is a remnant of my green tea habit I just gave up before coming to True North.

Weight: 159

Day 4

The morning starts out a little rough with low energy but gets better as the day progresses. I end up going for a nice walk in the afternoon, despite the center’s warning for fasters not to leave the property. I feel like a kid skipping class. I thought I would get some writing done during the fast, but I’m not. Concentration is difficult when the body is running on ketones instead of glucose. One faster told me “I couldn’t fast without Netflix.” I find the same. I end up watching an entire season of “Better Call Saul” in 2-3 days. Overall, an easy day. Hunger is gone!

Weight: 157

Day 5

I’m entering a new stage of the fast. I’m deep into ketosis now. I’m still sleeping like crazy, unlike other fasters! Again, spent 12 hours in bed last night. In the first few days of the fast, I drank because I had to. Now, I’m thirsty like crazy and end up drinking twice the amount that I usually drink. My pulse is higher. My blood pressure is higher. I can feel some acidity in my stomach.

Weight: 154.4

Day 6

I’m in deep detox mode! I feel like my body is doing a deep cleansing. I’m much more tired today, and the roof of my upper throat is inflamed.

Great doctors and interns at True North visit you twice a day. Dr. Roberts — a real gentleman — discussed with me that during a fast, many health markers go up (cholesterol levels, pulse, blood pressure), as the body does its “thing,” and then go down.

The mystery of the sore mouth/throat? Dr. Klaper explains to me that during a fast, saliva chemistry changes, and different, not-so-friendly bacteria start dominating. This change can occur in as little as two days, and changes as the fast goes on. This is a common symptom that will clear out after the fast.

Weight: 152.6

Day 7

I had officially a horrible night last night, making officially day six the worst day of the fast. I couldn’t sleep because all the aches and pains I ever felt in my life (it seems) came back to haunt me with a vengeance! For example, tooth pain where I had repairs done, leg pain where I had an accident 15 years ago, upper back, lower back, you name it. Doctor told me that old injuries and pains often come back during a fast. Looking forward to breaking the fast and counting the hours.

Weight: 151

Day 1 of breaking the fast

Day of juices only! My first watermelon-celery juice hits the spot and tastes better than any juice I remember having since my last fast. I’m allowed four juices today, every 3 hours. Still, I’m not feeling like myself still! However, I know better. You have to be patient…

Weight: 149

Day 2 of breaking the fast

Today on the menu: raw foods and some steamed vegetables. My morning fruit meal does the job. Fruit tastes amazing, of course, but I also feel the energy coming back soon after eating it! I make sure to eat fruit before every other meal, along with the salads and greens, which don’t taste any better than they normally do without dressing.

Weight: 151

Day 3 of breaking the fast

The inflamed throat that was bothering me in the last part of the fast is starting to heal quickly. My body chemistry is changing back to those friendly carbohydrates! Yay! Don’t let anyone tell you that ketosis is the body’s natural state.

Today on the menu: same as yesterday, but add cooked potatoes and other mild starches.

Now, I’m almost feeling like myself! But a bubblier version of myself! My physical energy is not back 100%, but I’m in a state of deep happiness. Last night, I watched “Crocodile Dundee” for the first time since I watched it as a kid and ended up crying in the cheesy finale.

Weight: 153

Thoughts About the Fast

Fasting is a process of preservation, rejuvenation, and revival. It’s part breaking down and building back up. The revival phase feels particularly good regarding mood and spiritual benefits.

The first 4-5 days of my fast were particularly easy, and the last few days were very challenging, because of the aches and pains I was feeling. Was it worth it?

It’s been now almost seven days since I broke the fast, and I can already report a few benefits

Benefits from the fast

The “High” — First, you can’t beat the “post-fast” high. For 4-5 fast after the fast, I was walking around in a state of elevated mood and heightened mental and spiritual awareness. Although my body was still “recovering” from the fast, I was feeling better and better every day.

Mood and energy — The mood enhancement seems to be lasting beyond the first few days after breaking the fast. I noticed that even when I get less sleep, I seem to function better during the day with higher levels of mental and physical energy.

Improved digestion – My digestion is noticeably better since I broke the fast — which surprised me. Every meal has digested perfectly, and elimination is perfect. I was doing well in those areas before, but I’ve noticed that it’s even better now.

I’m Off Caffeine! I can’t believe that I managed to give up caffeine completely. I tried to phase it off at home, but couldn’t. Since I broke the fast, I’ve had no desire for caffeine at all.

Mobility & Pain — I told you about the lower back issues I experienced during the fast, as well as the body aches and pains. All of that disappeared after the fast! But even better, my body feels even more mobile now and feels better all around.

Improved Taste Buds — You might have heard that natural foods taste better after a fast. My experience was a little different. Fruit tasted amazing after the fast, but vegetables tasted like they normally do. However, what has truly changed for me is my interest in salt is noticeably down. I just don’t want any! I’m turned off by any food that contains salt or too many strong seasonings (except natural spices). Before the fast, I was still using salt and seasonings (like salsa) that contained it, but now I’m determined to eliminate them or cut back significantly, and my taste buds are leading me in that direction!

Fast Loss — Although I was at a good weight before the fast (between 163-166 pounds), I probably lost 2 pounds of fat during the fast. I do enjoy my slimmer, trimmer body!

There are probably other benefits of the fast that I can’t pinpoint because they are happening on a much deeper, physiological level. All I know is that it was a worthwhile experience, in spite of the level of difficulty in doing a fast longer than 3-4 days.

FAQs

Here are a few questions I received about water fasting. If you have more, please write them in the comment section.

How much water to drink?

It’s recommended to drink 2-3 quarts or liters of water a day.

Have you ever done a juice fast? And if so what are the differences for you between a juice fast and water fast?

Yes, I’ve done many juice fasts, although none longer than five days. When doing a juice fast, I never felt any of the benefits I have felt with water fasting, except for the higher energy during and after the juice fast. Even that was short lived.

A juice fast is not a true fast. It’s a 600-1500 calories a day liquid diet. It can lead to some benefits, but in general, I don’t recommend it for more than a day. You’d be better off eating a whole, high-raw, low-fat, oil-free vegan diet instead.

Frederic Patenaude

Frederic Patenaude has been an important influence in the raw food and natural health movement since he started writing and publishing in 1998, first by being the editor of Just Eat an Apple magazine. He is the author of over 20 books, including The Raw Secrets, the Sunfood Cuisine and Raw Food Controversies. Since 2013 he’s been the Editor-in-Chief of Renegade Health.

Frederic loves to relentlessly debunk nutritional myths. He advocates a low-fat, plant-based diet and has had over 10 years of experience with raw vegan diets. He lives in Montreal, Canada.

49 COMMENTS ON THIS POST

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  1. Jackie says:

    Why oil free. What are he benefits/Cons of adding the oil? Are your salads still oil free/Avocado free? Back to a normal diet are you eating seeds, nuts and where do sprouts fit into your after fasting?

    • Hi! No benefits in adding oil to the diet. It’s a refined food — not needed, no nutrients. Cons? It’s pro-inflammatory (Omega-6 oils), carcinogenic, and contributes to heart disease. However, nuts and seeds and avocados are great because they have all the nutrients and fiber with them. No problems with those. I currently eat some, yes.

      • Frederic, have you considered that your insomnia may be due to a lack of sufficient fat in your diet? It seems like you are still sticking to an ultra-low-fat diet? Fats serve many useful functions in the body. Saturated fat helps the body to make cholesterol and hormones. Fat helps the body to better digest, absorb and utilize proteins and minerals. If you are having insomnia, then your body is trying to tell you something, there is some sort of imbalance. I hope you are able to figure out what it is, and then let the rest of us know. You are such a talented writer and educator, I look forward to reading whatever you have to say as your diet and your knowledge base continues to evolve.

        • Good point, but my insomnia is mostly psychological. I went through periods in the last two years eating a lot more fat and it did not make a difference. Also: I don’t stick to an “ultra-low fat diet.” I tested my omega 3 balance via a blood test and it was perfect.

      • Julie says:

        What about coconut oil? There are many books written on the health benefits of coconut oil. Are you throwing that out as well? This is very interesting. Thanks. Julie

        • No coconut oil! It raises LDL levels and is a refined oil just like any other oil. The benefits are largely exaggerated and you can get get all the benefits without the negatives by eating whole coconuts, the way we were meant to.

  2. Andrea Gerak says:

    Hi Frederic, great results!

    I have 3 questions:

    1. When your body has quite a few detox symptoms on the last day, wouldn’t it be advisable to continue until they subdue or better, disappear? Fast 2 or 3 days longer?

    2. Do you consume salt with the water, to keep the balance of the fluids in your body? Himalayan salt or such, of course.

    3. I missed the part before: why are you advocating a low-fat, oil-free diet? What about highly nutritious oils, like coconut, olive, avocado, grape seed and a few more?

    Thanks.

    • 1- Yes but often on a long fast it will take a while for all symptoms to subside. So sometimes you are limited with the time you have.
      2- Very bad idea to have salt on the fast. The body auto regulates and maintains its electrolyte balance during a fast. However, you shouldn’t fast more than 3-5 days without monitoring.
      3- Oils are not nutritious more than white sugar is nutritious. However, oils contained in natural foods that haven’t been stripped away are healthy. For example there’s a percentage of fat present in all whole plant foods, even greens.

  3. Seema says:

    Thanks for in depth information on water fasting. It was really useful. I have been thinking about going to true North for fasting because I have autoimmune condition. What is approximate cost associated with it.

  4. Sharan says:

    Hi
    Just wondering how long you spent at TrueNorth after the 7 days of water fasting? I am thinking of going there but the price is a issue for me so wondering if you felt the need to break your fast there?
    I have been there for appointments with Dr. Klaper and he thinks it would be helpful for me.
    Thank you so much for this information!

  5. barbara says:

    Frederic: did you loose muscle mass in addition to the 2 pounds of fat loss?

    my experience is I loose muscle mass — perhaps True North makes sure you
    are only burning fat?

    Thanks

  6. Hello,

    Did you follow the raw food diet before the fast?

    Next time try the dry fast, which results are superior to water fasting.

  7. Marion says:

    I did a 10 day watermelon fast years ago when I first started having colonics. I also drank a lot of water. I learned about it from Dr. Bernard Jensens’ book called, Tissue Cleansing through Bowel Management. I had been in pain for years due to a MVA and unable to work. I also had had 3 C-sections and a repair job due to doctor’s errors. I had several colonics done before I started my fast. Several days into the fast, I woke up in the middle of the night with diarrhea then started vomiting. I felt fantastic after each release. By the time I was done, my bathroom smelt like an operating room. (I’m a nurse.) I hadn’t had surgery in 5 years. I called my colon therapist and had a treatment later that day. I thought that I would never eat again. I was happy, energized and had no pain. Since that time, I have been able to work. What’s my work? For the past 33 years, my nursing practice has been doing colon therapy on others and doing other alternative practices. I am always surprised when people do fasts and don’t do colonics. It would be very doubtful if you would have had any “aches and pain” if several colonics had been done. I tell my patients to get a couple of colonics done before starting a fast, another one done in the middle of the fast, followed by one at the end and maybe one in a week. Amazing what can be stirred up when fasting. Best to get it out sooner than later and not suffer the side effects.

    • I personally believe that colonics are damaging, and so do the doctors at True North with a lot of experience in fasting. The colon becomes perfectly aseptic during a fast.

      • Jacek says:

        Frederic, regarding colonics I respect your opinion. However, many people have poor or sluggish colons due to years of consuming the Standard American Diet (SAD). I have met several people who were elderly, healthy, and very grateful that they were getting periodic colonics. I personally am in agreement with Marion and Susan’s comments regarding colonics.

        So you’re turning the big 40? Congratulations! I hope you hit 40 at least two more times.

        I once had a naturopathic doctor tell me that good health really breaks down into two simple rules. (1) Get the toxins out of your body. (2) Put good nutrition back into it. That doctor was also in favor of colonics and enemas, especially if one had a sluggish colon, where good elimination did not take place on a daily basis. Among other things, he was also in favor of eating fermented cultures so as to restore necessary probiotics.

    • Susan says:

      Thanks for inspiring me to do a water fast again. I think Frederic should try a colonic next time he does a water fast. You’d surprised at what the body is able to expel during a colonic while fasting. Takes a lot of detoxing symptoms away, not to be reabsorbed. Colonics are safe, natural and effective leaving you feeling cleansed and refreshed. Colonics have helped me with constipation over the years. Stress relief, resetting body after long flights, keeping my skin blemish free and much more.

    • Personally, I have felt great benefits from doing colonics and/or enemas during both juice fasts and water fasts (although I would not do more than 1 in conjunction with a water fast, as the colonic may cause some loss of minerals from the body, and of course on a water fast, minerals are not getting replenished). I have never felt any damage to my colon or anything like that from doing colonics or enemas. I feel that they are a fantastic tool. Of course, they may remove beneficial bacteria from the colon to a certain degree, so I don’t think it makes sense to do them too often or to do too many of them.

  8. Debra says:

    Hi Fredrick,

    Have you tried Sacha Inchi oil for insomnia? It apparently supplies some essential oil many of us do not get enough of (I think Omega 3)–I sleep GREAT when I take this oil–(often even through the night!)
    Thanks for the inspirational article–I have been feeling the need for a water fast and will start a 10 day in March after fulfilling some business obligations.

    Best Regards,
    Debra

  9. Joyce says:

    Why do you feel pain in certain areas of your body when you fast? Is the body trying to heal itself? I have fasted a few times in my life for 5 to 7 days, and I always feel pain in areas where I know I have health issues.

  10. Peter says:

    Frederic – as always you are doing a great job of sharing – and I like your books too!
    Water Fasting is not recommended to everybody – is that right? Some are doing Juicing all the time – why you do not like it?

  11. Brad says:

    Hi Frederic,

    Thanks for your sharing your experience.

    What is your opinion on “dry fasting”? As you’ve no doubt heard, some opinions out there say that one day of dry fasting might be equivalent to three days of water fasting, and the lack of water helps to starve the undesirable microbes. Whaddya think?

    • Dry fasting is very damaging to the body. You could do it for a day, but beyond that our bodies really need water

    • Regarding the question about dry fasting, it can be tough on the kidneys and bladder if your body is releasing a lot of toxins and acidity. Most people have a lot of toxicity in their body, and water fasting is an efficient way to allow the body to flush that out. Dry fasting does go deeper, but one has to be ready for it. Don’t try dry fasting unless you’ve done water fasting first. Then if you feel inclined to try it, you can check out the Facebook group called “DRY FASTING (No Water or Food)”. I have done several dry fasts up to a maximum length of time of 3 days, but don’t try this unless you’re an experienced faster and build up to it.

  12. Sue says:

    Dear Frederic,

    I’m curious – did you get enemas or anything else besides water and post fast food?

    Sue

  13. Would you recommend doing an unsupervised water fast for more than one day?

  14. Sarah says:

    Your account of fasting is so informative and inspiring, thank you! It’s something I’ve been curious about for a while and though part of me is intimidated / a little scared about embarking on a water fast, I really enjoyed reading about the details of your experience and the True North Center.

  15. Nancy says:

    Hi Frederic
    What water was used in your fast?
    I find the whole water issue confusing
    So I add only coconut water in my juices.

  16. Mary says:

    Great article!!!!! Thanks!

  17. patrick says:

    thank you! l always like to read youer posts as it seames to me that you are a straight shooter! meaning no b-sh,lve been vegan for 4yrs now and l can say its the only way for me now! l still drink beer and smoke cigs,but l just feel so much better not eating anything thats bleeds,maybe someday l will really want to feel good,and then maybe l wiill quit my sins!keep it comming Fredric as l know and feel you are the real deal!!! thks

  18. Gail Murray says:

    Hello Frederic,

    Thank you sending the mail. Please send my question by e-mail. What cause a person to fall out , dizzy or loose their balance when day on a water fast. They have hard to get back up

  19. Nieves says:

    No oil? no avocado or coconut or olive oil? why? even raw diet recommend it.

  20. You wrote that “It’s recommended to drink 2-3 quarts or liters of water a day,” and that “In the first few days of the fast, I drank because I had to.” I am a little surprised that you are still clinging to such a rigid and rules-based mentality so far along in your evolution. The recommendation for 2-3 quarts of water a day actually has little basis in anything scientific. It can be useful for people whose bodies are very toxic, people who have a lot of unnatural substances in their body that they need to flush out, but for someone such as yourself, there is no need for such a large amount of water, and if you are constantly drinking all of this water, then you are putting unnecessary extra stress on your kidneys, which may be contributing to your insomnia. There is no reason for you to have “drank because I had to.” Trust in the innate wisdom of your body, and only drink when you are thirsty. All the best to you!

    • True North and Dr. Golhammer have fasted over 15,000 people successfully. My teacher Albert Mosseri fasted over 4000 people. All of those professionals recommend drinking water during a fast. I don’t drink that much water when I eat food, because I get plenty of water from food. It’s only when fasting that drinking water is important. You can skip it the first day but not after.

  21. Derek says:

    Wow – that’s a real commitment! I do not think I could go for 7 days. I would also be interested if you noticed a loss in muscle mass.

  22. Georgia says:

    Hi Frederic,

    Why shunning oils and nuts and seeds and avocado before fasting?
    They contain healthy fats, bits of protein the nuts and seeds and minerals as well as oligoelements.

  23. eva says:

    Hi, Just wondering if you were ever able to cure your acne. I have acne on my chest and back and shoulders and I would love to figure out how to cure it naturally.

    • I still have some from time to time. But not on my face. In 20 years no diet I ever try or any health protocol has ever made any difference. Even when I fasted 23 days. So I have accepted as a flaw of my own body and stopped stressing out about it a long time ago.

  24. Juliet says:

    Hey Fred,

    I can’t take off work to do a water fast. In your opinion, is it safe to do a water fast for like 4-5 days and still have a regular schedule? I really need to do a fast, but can’t take off. What do you think?

    • I wouldn’t recommend it. Remember fasting is mainly about RESTING. You could do three days over a weekend. For example: Friday at work, weekend fasting (try to rest). That being said, many people have done 4-5 days of water fasting while continuing their activities. It wouldn’t be safe for everyone to do this, but people in good health can.

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