Prolonged fasting can accelerate your weight loss efforts. Learn how to do a 72 hour or more prolonged fast safely and reap the many other prolonged fasting benefits for your health and well-being.
The idea of not eating for multiple days in a row may seem overwhelming. But when done safely, a prolonged fast can be the best way to reset your body and achieve your wellness goals.
Prolonged fasting refers to fasts of 3 days or longer. There has been significant intermittent fasting research on the 16/8, the 5:2, alternate day fasting, and the 24-48 hour fast, but the research on prolonged fasting is limited.
Prolonged fasting is simply next-level intermittent fasting. The fasting time is extended a notch, and the results are magnified. With intermittent fasting, you are eating 1-2 meals during the day with a period of fasting typically 14-18 hours; with prolonged fasting, you don't eat anything during the entire multi-day fast.
When you take a break from eating for 3, 5, 7 – even up to 21 days – your body enters “survival mode”. Your body's systems, including your digestive system, get a well-deserved rest, and your body starts other processes that provide benefits you might never otherwise receive without prolonged fasting (1).
Think of prolonged fasting as a periodic add-on to a healthy lifestyle, not as a means of extreme dieting. The benefits go well beyond weight loss.
Extreme Hunger – Not eating for days may cause hunger pains, dizziness, and insomnia. But hunger usually resolves after 2-3 days.
Risk of Dehydration and Electrolyte Imbalance - Much of our water intake comes via food, and when you aren't eating food, you need to make sure you drink enough water to avoid dehydration. Also, you need to replenish your electrolytes, the salts that help maintain proper body functioning, such as sodium and potassium (8).
Foul Mood- Some people get "hangry" (hungry + angry) when they don't eat.
If you want to adhere to a clean prolonged fast, you are only allowed water, unsweetened tea, black coffee, and sea salt. Bone broth is suggested if you are struggling to maintain the fast.
Here is some advice that you should keep in mind when doing a prolonged fast:
You should not do prolonged fasting if pregnant, breastfeeding, have a history of eating disorders, or if you are already thin (BMI < 19) and can't afford to lose any more body weight.
Prolonged fasting can be another amazing tool for your healthy living toolbox. Fasting for three or more days, periodically, leads to accelerated weight loss, has anti-aging benefits and decreases inflammation. Build up to the prolonged fast slowly and stay hydrated for the duration of the fast. Make sure to break your fast slowly when returning to your regular eating schedule.
You might be interested in reading our other article "Should I fast daily ?".
It can be difficult knowing if intermittent fasting is the right fit for you. In this article, you will find out if you can start the journey.
Stay hydrated, reduce caffeine slowly, and consume plenty of calories, with an emphasis on healthy fats, to prevent headaches while fasting.