Warnings when doing a Water Fast & Managing Hunger

Water fasting is a powerful and intense experience. When done properly, you can have amazing results. It takes a strong-willed individual to be able to successfully do a water fast. The following are some important things to watch out for during your program:

Potassium warning

When I tried my very first water fast, I experienced low potassium levels during my first water fast, and luckily knew to immediately stop.

If you start to get extreme muscle cramps, to the point where you have trouble standing and feel like you are going to collapse, you could be suffering from a lack of potassium. You may also feel quite distinctly that something is very wrong. If this happens, listen to your body – it is trying to warn you!

I don’t want to scare anyone about this..don’t be alarmed if you feel minor cramping in your calves or arms while fasting. Minor muscle cramps are normal. In that case, just rest and drink more water.

But if the cramps turn severe, then you should seriously think about breaking the fast and taking some juice or liquid minerals right away.

If you quickly start to feel better, you will know that your body needed potassium.

Signs of potassium deficiency include: muscle cramps, muscle fatigue and weakness, irregular heartbeat, fatigue, mental confusion and irritability.

Taste of heavy metals

If you start to experience the taste of metal in your mouth during your fast and it doesn’t go away, you could be detoxifying heavy metals from your body. It’s not a good idea to continue with water if this occurs. Instead, break the fast and consider doing some natural heavy metal detoxing before you consider trying another water fast.

Physical cleansing reactions

There are many cleansing reactions that one can experience during their fast. The most typical ones would include headaches, fatigue, nausea, minor aches and pains, blurred vision, skin rashes or eruptions and trouble sleeping. For headaches especially, you may want to try an organic coffee enema.

Otherwise, just be gentle and patient with your body – rest as much as you possibly can and be grateful to know that your body is finally strong enough to start eliminating excess toxic waste.

If you start to have extreme reactions, it could mean that you did not prepare your body for the fast properly with good intestinal cleansing and healthy eating. You may want to stop, spend more time on your ‘pre-fast’ and then start again.

Heartburn and Acid Reflux

If you feel any heartburn or intense acid reflux during your fast, you could be too acidic internally. The best thing to do is slow down the fast, add some fresh lime or lemon squeezed into your water, and allow your body to alkalize. After you are feeling good, you can go back to pure water.

Keep in mind that if you have continual heartburn during your water fast, that may be a sign that you have acidity from excess toxins in your body, such as chemicals, food additives and heavy metals. You may want to stop the fast and consider doing a colon cleanse, parasite cleanse and heavy metal detox before trying water fasting again.

Emotional cleansing reactions

On my first long water fast, I experienced a lot of negative emotions including sadness, guilt, depression and anger. Usually these types of negative emotions arise more when the liver is cleansing, so take it as a good sign. Your body is pulling these deep-rooted energies out of the cells and is finally releasing them once and for all.

If you want, you can say mantras to yourself such as ‘I am releasing the anger from x person hurting me’ or ‘I am releasing the guilt of (whatever the situation).’ Allow your mind to work with the body to help actively release and be free of these burdens!

Hunger

This is probably the thing people worry about the most when they think about whether or not to try a water fast. I can tell you that in my case, the only real hunger I felt was in my mind! If I thought about food or I saw or smelled food, only then did I start to want it. But my physical body really did not experience hunger pains.

If you do feel a lot of grumbling, first try to drink more water. Always drink small amounts of water at a time so you don’t wind up feeling sick. Try to lie down, meditate and take your mind somewhere else. Think about all the good you are doing for your body. Know that this is your chance to heal in amazing ways. Ask for strength from your Source.

If you start to think about food, try as much as possible to NOT think about junk foods, comfort foods, de-vitalized foods, coffee or alcohol. If you do this, you are creating the seed of energy in your mind to seek those foods out later. For sure you will have a much harder time saying no to them once you break your fast.

Many people even think about such foods so much that they wind up breaking their fast on those very foods!

Be careful what you think about. If you start to fantasize about food, imagine yourself eating all the pure, divine foods from Mother Earth. Visualize having the perfect fruit salad for breakfast, then imagine preparing the most delicious raw salad for lunch and watch yourself eating that wonderful dinner of mixed greens and garlic with a fresh basil pesto dressing. Be creative and have fun in your mind, but keep it healthy!

Surround yourself with positive people: No gossip or negative talk

As much as you possibly can, maintain a circle of supportive friends and loved ones around you during your fast. If someone you know disagrees with what you are doing, don’t tell them right away. If anyone is making you feel less than the perfect person you are, politely avoid them during that time.

Realize that you will be much more sensitive to others and to your own feelings as well. If someone really cares about you, they will understand and do everything they can to support you.

Make a rule for yourself not to engage in any gossip or negative talk about anyone during your fast! These energies spread like wildfire and a wildfire is very hard to put out!

Be positive and loving and you will attract more of the same into your life!

Otherwise try spend a lot of time alone, reading books, health dvds, spending time in nature, keeping motivated and inspired and really connecting to your body. I like the way that Daniel Reid talks about ‘saving your breath’ in his book, The Tao of Detox. He explains how much energy is wasted simply from speaking and to consider talking as little as possible during your fast to keep that energy for your own healing. It makes sense!

Rest even when feeling good


Rest is one of the most important factors in a successful fast. Give the body all the time it needs to do it’s internal healing. If you start to feel really good, it can be very tempting to want to head out for a walk, run to the shops or meet some friends for an outing. As much as you can, try to avoid this temptation! Even when you are feeling good during a water fast, you should still rest as much as possible!

You will benefit so much more in terms of how much your body can achieve with the fast if you rest, rest and then rest even more!

More information

    My story & experiences during water fasting
    Preparing for a water fast
    How to maximize your water fast
    How to break a water fast

For more info, go here: 40-Day Water Fast: Comprehensive Guide & Personal Journal

Disclaimer: The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for prescription of any medication or other treatment. You should consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem. You should not stop taking any medication without first consulting your physician. Read full disclaimer here.

More on Water Fasting:

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Jennifer Thompson has been working with raw food, juices, smoothies and detox for over two decades to help people heal. Today, she shares her expertise worldwide, offering lectures, workshops, training and one-on-one consultations at various health and detox retreat centers. She provides Iridology Readings & Health Coaching via Skype and Phone to clients and continues to educate, motivate and inspire others on their journey of healing. When she’s not working, you’ll find her hiking in the mountains, power-walking along the sea or globe-trotting to a new and exotic health destination.
27 replies
  1. Louisa Kay
    Louisa Kay says:

    I’m on a dry fast but from one glass of water a day so as not to be dehydrated. Is this OK?

    Also my eyes are twitchy. I’m on Day 6. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Louisa Fay
      Louisa Fay says:

      I’m on a dry fast but drink one glass of water a day so as not to be dehydrated. Is this OK?

      Also my eyes are twitchy. I’m on Day 6. Thanks.

      Reply
  2. Alla
    Alla says:

    Hello Jennifer, I started my first water fasting. I am on day 9 for 10 days target. I drink lemon/lime water and water only. Could you please let me know is it normal:
    1) I am very weak physically, can’t do to much
    2) my urine is still very acidic and I wonder why
    thank you for your help

    Reply
    • Jennifer Thompson
      Jennifer Thompson says:

      Dear Alla,

      It’s pretty normal to feel weak during water fasting, however if you are concerned for any reason you should consult with your medical doctor.

      Without knowing if you pre-cleansed with a high nutrient and alkaline diet, if you did other cleansing to prepare your body for water fasting or what health conditions you may be working on, I can only say I have no idea why you are still acidic. All of these details are very important and relevant to what you are experiencing now. I hope that makes sense!

      My best,

      Jennifer

      Reply
  3. Alla
    Alla says:

    Hello Jennifer, I am on my 9 day fasting, thinking to do 10 days and switch to juicing for a month or so. It is my first fasting. I feel good, the only thing I have physical weakness, can’t do to much. Is it normal? One more thing please, my urine is very acidic, and I wonder if it is normal. I don’t eat anything and drink lemon/lime water or just water. As I would think the urine should be alkaline.
    thank you

    Reply
  4. Michael Rouleau
    Michael Rouleau says:

    Hello. My question has to do with adding lemon or lime to your water when you have heart burn. How does that alkalize you when the fruits are so naturally acidic? And what about working? I have to work and my job involves some heavy lifting, and a lot of physical activity. I am on day 7 of a water only fast, and after my job was done I was so exhausted and my lower back was extremely painful. On day 4 and 5 I had fatigue and mental foggines. I feel like I need to add some liquids maybe juice some broth, or should I break the fast? Thank you and Shalom.

    Reply
    • Jennifer Thompson
      Jennifer Thompson says:

      Dear Michael,

      What is pH health?
      The most important thing to understand with pH health is how your body digests food. Alkaline foods are foods that require almost no extra acid from the stomach for digestion. Even though a lemon is acidic on the table, for example, it’s 100% alkaline-forming to the body and is therefore an alkaline food. On the other hand, meat takes a whole lot of stomach acid to digest and so it’s an acid-forming food.

      Ideally, the pH of your blood should be slightly alkaline, in the range of 7.385, in order for your hormonal system and immune system to work its best. To achieve that, you should strive for a diet of 80% alkaline-forming foods + 20% acid-forming foods. (In reality, most people are doing the exact opposite, eating 20% alkaline-forming foods + 80% acid-forming foods. Is it any wonder why the rates of disease are so high?) The best anti-cancer diet is an 80% alkaline diet.

      If you don’t eat the right combination of alkaline vs. acid foods, your body will try to force itself into an alkaline pH. The way it knows how to do that is to leech calcium directly from your bones. Calcium is the best natural buffer there is! Long-term, if you eat an acid-forming diet for many years, you’re setting yourself up for loss of bone density, more likelihood of hip, knee and joint problems and even osteoarthritis in addition to higher risk for disease.

      Can you do physical work while water fasting?
      If you read my book, you will already know the answer to that: NO! When you are fasting, you need to internalize energy for healing. Physical labor externalizes your energy, so what do you then have left for healing? Nothing. You’ve sent all your energy out and now your body is literally exhausted. It’s not easy to make such a commitment if your job requires you to do hard work and you can’t take the time off. Waiting 6 months or even 1 year to do a fast when you have the time to REST and do it right is well worth the wait in the long run.

      Only you can decide what to do next but be sure to listen to what your body needs. Good luck and congratulations on 7 days – that’s a great accomplishment!

      To your health,

      Jennifer

      Reply
      • Michele Miller
        Michele Miller says:

        Hello Jennifer,
        I just ended a 3 day water fast last Sunday. I started having symptoms of a rash on my legs on the following Monday or Tuesday night, but it went away. The rash came back with last night and is getting worse. I have taken an antihistamine and rubbed my legs with Hydrocortizone, but no relief. I have read several articles that say my body is eliminating toxins through my skin. What else can I do for relief? Should I go back on a fast to rid my body of these toxins? Any assistance you can provide would be great. Thanks.

        Reply
          • Michele Miller
            Michele Miller says:

            Hi Jennifer,
            Sorry I over looked your response. Of course, I am now off the fast, but would still like to know for the future. The rash lasted for about 2 weeks but got worse when I returned to water aerobics and swim class. Thinking the chlorine may have irritated it. I took Aveeno baths, used Aveeno shower gel and lotion as well. I also took Benadril at night. I also went to the Vitamin store and purchased a natural colon cleanser to relieve my body of the toxins. Probably should have done this BEFORE the fast.

            Nonetheless, to answer your question, I broke the fast by eating broth only on day one and two while continuing to drink water and hot tea. On day three, I added diluted cold pressed apple juice, melons and grapes for breakfast and lunch, and salad greens with no dressing for dinner. Day four I added scrambled eggs for breakfast, salad greens with no dressing for lunch and salmon with asparagus for dinner.

          • Jennifer Thompson
            Jennifer Thompson says:

            Dear Michele,

            If there was any “yeast extract” “spices” “natural flavors” or other flavorings in the broth, then I would guess your rash was caused by that and was not a cleansing reaction. There are chemical additives in those ingredients which can cause an itchy rash and especially after breaking a fast, your body will absorb all of that very quickly. It would be better to blend some raw fruits or veggies and sip on that, or make your own broth with no spices and just boiled organic veggies. Hope that helps and many blessings to your health!

            My best,

            Jennifer

  5. jb
    jb says:

    “If you start to experience the taste of metal in your mouth during your fast and it doesn’t go away, you could be detoxifying heavy metals from your body. It’s not a good idea to continue with water if this occurs. Instead, break the fast and consider doing some natural heavy metal detoxing before you consider trying another water fast.”

    Why is it a problem to continue water fast?

    Reply
    • Jennifer Thompson
      Jennifer Thompson says:

      Dear JB,

      If you start stirring up heavy metals during a water water, your body has no way to chelate them out in a safe way. That means they can start ricocheting around your organs, just like a bullet doing damage at every turn.

      When heavy metals are stored in fat, tissue and bone…they are safe and away from major organs (still not great to have them of course but they are not as much of an immediate danger). You can really mess yourself up if they get pulled out into the blood with no way out. And it will be a LOT more work to fix all the damage in the long run. Trust me on that.

      My best,

      Jennifer

      Reply
  6. Nicola
    Nicola says:

    Hi I have 3 autoimmune disorders Type 1 diabetes, hypothyroid and RA. I follow an organic carb free diet which keeps any inflammation pretty much out of my body. I have just started a 6 day fast. I am on day 3 and I seem to have more inflammation in my hands and feet than I have done in years, could this be due to toxins being released into my body and will this pass. I have tried researching this on the web but have not found any info other than water fasting REDUCING inflammation.

    Reply
  7. SUMAN DAS
    SUMAN DAS says:

    I want to do fasting once every week and I am totally new to the idea of fasting and I am suffering from hyper-acidity, and if a don’t eat anything for 3 to 4 Hrs I have a bout of acidity. Please tell advice me should I take fasting at all and if so how to prepare myself for fasting.

    Reply
    • Jennifer Thompson
      Jennifer Thompson says:

      Dear Suman,

      You’re not ready for water fasting. Slow down. Work on your acid problem first. Have you consider trying a day of eating only organic fruits or green smoothies as a more gentle and alkaline form of cleansing for your condition?

      To your good health,

      Jennifer

      Reply
  8. Marc
    Marc says:

    Hello, wanted to share day 6 of a 10 day water fast. I have been over eating and very non physical. Last year in August I had hernia surgery and then again in September. So since then I have not been very active physically. Now about 25 pounds over my normal weight. Spiritually I decided to do a 10 day fast. On day 6 and I can feel all the symptoms headaches, a little bit of physical aches, a lot of fatigue. Yesterday I didn’t drink as much water and I could feel it in my stomach. I started thinking about food more watching commercials mostly. At times I have few moments of thinking I should break the fast. But this is the most committed insturment thing I have done a long time. Hope the next three days goes better, I’m very excited about this fast then and in considering I might continuing to 5 more days. Actually my body is beginning to feel better, my mind is more clear spiritually my relationship is more clear as well. Comments please on 1st timer ?

    Reply
  9. Margaret Schneider-Grall
    Margaret Schneider-Grall says:

    I planned to fast for a week however I reached day 4 and could not sleep because of aching legss which proceeded to my lower back.It is worse when I lay down or sit down. I have to stand up or lie in warm bath to get relief!! I ended up breaking i tt on a mango and a carrot, I plan to eat raw food for a week and try another 77. day water fast! A bit disappointed that I ccould only fast for 3 days! Any advice to help that 4th day of pain? Thankyou

    Reply
    • Jennifer Thompson
      Jennifer Thompson says:

      Hi Margaret,

      Did you do any preparation before the fast like taking mineral supplements and green juicing? In my book I explain the importance of these steps. If you pre-cleanse well, you should not hit a wall on day 4. Good thing you broke the fast – it’s really key to stay in tune with your body and listen to what it needs!

      To your health,

      Jennifer

      Reply
  10. Tatiana Hohnke
    Tatiana Hohnke says:

    on june 19 i start a 40 days water fasting ,everything went well i do fasting for a 40 years , My longest and most happiest time was 6 month water fast. I felled great! Haw I am 62 and try to go for a long time fast, but after a 30 days I start to throw up after 6 pm .with a bile and acid mostly acid ,I have to stop fasting and searching for solving this problems ,and go back to fast. during the fast i been doing enema everyday with 2 tbs salt,coffee ,colonik one in week,infrared sauna everyday,massage,sports. I been helping my body to detox any sagestions haw i can control acid?

    Reply
  11. Hari krishna PM
    Hari krishna PM says:

    My name is Hari my friend vinod talled about fasting method.because he is taking water fasting last 4 years continously weekly once.He is more energetic.so this month 10th july 2014 i started my fasting with juice fasting thecfirst day so horrible to comple fasting without food.that day itself drunk 3 glasses lime juice.4 glasses of honey water 4 glasses of butter milk water.and 4glasses of plain water.yesterday i taken my second fast.i taken 5 glasses of lime water.3 glasses of plain water 5 glasses of butter milk water.1 glass of glucose water.but yesterday night i feels slight head ache.today morning i drunk 1 glass of lime water.but today early morning i get up feels stomach ache.and feels tired.iam interested to cotinue fasting. Kindly advice how to start fasting and how to finishe and what r the methods of taking food after fasting.

    Reply
  12. Greg
    Greg says:

    I just finished second waterfast day. I intend to do one week. Each finished week I extend my fast for another week. When I feel nervous for 3-4 days, then I usually break fast with raw food.
    I have never fasted long enough to clean my body as it is supposed to be. I fasted for 6 times. Longest two fasts lasted 42 and 46 days. And I never succeeded to break fast the right way. It means, that after 2-3 days I ate almost everything.
    I hope that after breaking this one I will be on raw food for at least a month. Preparing on the fast was o.k.
    I don’t eat junk food or huge quantities, but because if hormone disorder I am fat gaining machine. (hyper-insulinism, low T, insulin resistance, etc.)

    Reply
  13. David
    David says:

    I’m on the third day of a three day water fast. The first 36 hours I neither ate nor drank anything since then I’ve been drinking water freely. I’m used to fasting I do two 7 day juice fasts and two 3 day water fast each year in addition to 24 hour total religiously prescribed fasts each month. I resonated with what Jennifer said about the blissfulness of fasting. I feel a little tired and a slight tightness in my forehead, but otherwise feel strong, positive and peaceful. When I began fasting 30 years ago it was not the same experience it is now. I think you have to be fairly clean internally for the bliss to fully bloom.

    Reply
  14. Renaye
    Renaye says:

    I fast each year. One of the things that keeps me from feeling bad during a fast is a morning/daily enema. That is a huge factor in my fasts being pleasant rather than painful. I also do a daily dry scrub before I bathe to help with my skin move toxins out. If I feel achy in my joints, I do gentle stretching, especially for my lower back.

    Reply

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