Updated: Jun 21, 2021
A big part of my philosophy when it comes to fitness and self development is the practice of discipline. When we take even the smallest incremental steps towards self discipline, we're exercising our will power and commitment, which carries on into larger areas of our lives. Many of us are in a constant state of undisciplined consumption, whether it'd be things such as food, internet, video games, shopping or other vices. I myself have been guilty of over consumption, not out of necessity, but out of boredom. We're easily fixated and to a certain degree controlled by our external vices, that we rarely take the time to introspect and give our bodies the bare essentials. One small lifestyle change I've made that has contributed to my self discipline practice, was to cut out all food, internet and external distractions for a total of 50 hours, and going on a water fast. I've experimented with this a few times with the intention of cleansing or "detoxing" the body and mind, but there is a lot more happening in the body that we're unaware of.
Knowing your goals
One key question to ask yourself before going on a water fast is, What are the goals I'm aiming to achieve through this fast? For example in my case, my aim was to lose weight, reboot my immune system, and practice overall self discipline/will power. However, your goals may be entirely different, because the key is choosing a goal that caters specifically to your needs. If you're new to water fasting or fasting in general, it's recommended that you start small, by going anywhere between 10 - 20 hours, and having a third person monitor your condition. Any amount of time beyond that is not recommended. Be sure to research and check with a health care practitioner before partaking in a prolonged fast.
Thanks to extensive research on the various health benefits of water fasting by Dr Mindy Pelz, we now can get an overview on the different physical and biological stages the body undergoes during a water fast, between the 24 hour to 125 hour mark (Days 1 to 5). Let's take a look at those 5 key findings:
1- Blood Glucose/ Insulin levels decline between Days 1 and 4 of fasting, with a number of small spikes throughout. However those fluctuations come to a stop between Days 4 and 5.
**Blood glucose is the concentration of sugar present in the blood.
** Insulin helps turn the glucose in the blood into energy for the body. When we fast, this process still takes place but at a declining rate as the days progress.
2- Weight Loss occurs after the first 30 hours of fasting and generally continues
steadily between Days 2 and 5 onward.
3- Immune & Musculoskeletal Stem Cell Rebooting starts to spike at the 48 hour mark. This is when the body cleans out old immune cells and replaces them with new cells. This process reaches its peak at the 80 hour mark.
4- Autophagy begins to increase at 10 hours, peaks at Day 3 (75 Hours), and then sharply declines for the next 50 hours. This process is where the body cleans out excess or damaged cells. It allows the breaking down and recycling of cellular components in the body. This in turn reduces the risk of contracting any diseases.
5- Intestinal Stem Cells have the ability to regenerate and repair themselves and are responsible for the alignment of the intestine. At 20 hours this process rises rapidly and continues on a steady incline for the remaining four days.
***Remember to check with a health care practitioner first before undergoing on a fast of any kind. Fasting may not be recommended for individuals with certain health conditions. Always be sure to do your own research before partaking in a fast.
Sources: Dr Mindy Peltz "Fasting Benefits Over Time" (Graph)