How to do a prolonged water fast

After having fasted for 7 days twice and once for 10 days, I became obviously very interested in the topic and studied the benefits and what it does to the body.
After having read several books on the topic and countless articles on the internet, here is my summary of how to approach water fasting to get the most benefits and make it as easy as possible.

Reines, stilles Wasser ist die Grundlage für das Fasten.

The Preparation:

A preparation is not essential but it can make your fasting experience much easier. The best tip I can give to anyone planning ahead for a water fast, is to eat a very low carbohydrate diet leading up to the fast for at least 5-7 days. During that time the focus should be put on protein intake and low carbohydrate vegetables. This will pull your metabolic shift from carbohydrates to fats ahead and out of the fast. That way you go into the fast somewhat adapted to ketosis. Of course not all cells have switched fuel sources, but wasting of lean muscle mass is greatly reduced in this way.

The water fast:

During the actual fast, it's best to consume only pure water. No salt, potassium or any minerals. Of course, depending on the length of the fast, you have to look out for any symptoms of electrolyte imbalances after a longer time period. But for hunger and the actual purpose of the fast, autophagy and to rest the bowels, you want to consume nothing that could stimulate digestion. Drinking herbal teas actually makes the fast more difficult instead of easier. The flavor signals the body to start the digestion process and it makes you more hungry rather than less.

You can decide if you want to use something like enemas or salt water flushed to "clean" out the bowels at the beginning of a fast. I have done with and without it, and both ways I had no issues. But I have found the salt-water flush to be uncomfortable and you run the risk that it does not work, which leaves you bloated and your electrolytes out of balance. Enemas are the most pleasant way to empty the bowels. If you had a lot of fiber in your last meal, an enema is a good idea, otherwise the stool might become hard over the fast if you were not able to completely pass it during the first days.

If you do the fast because you are sick and want to heal something specifically, you should rest and abstain from heavy exercise. I have found though that at least some outside walking daily is very beneficial. I have also exercised (running) during another fast and found it to be no problem. But you can only do that if you have enough fat mass and do not intend to fast as long as possible.

Drink according to your thirst. I actually found that to be difficult, because most of my life I drank a certain set amount per day. Therefore I have found the optimal amount to be when the urine remains only slightly yellow. This gives the kidneys enough water to deal with the increased elimination.
In case you experience pain in the kidney area, first increase your water intake and if that does not help, you can take half a teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water. This helps the kidneys buffer the acids.

Breaking the fast:

Breaking the fast can be done in several different ways. But in general it is important to start with a reduced amount and eat slowly. Expect to be back to full digestive capacity in about a third of the amount of time that you fasted. If you fasted for three weeks, slowly bring back up food intake over the course of one week.
Most fasting practitioners recommend to start with vegetable and fruit juices. I would only stick with low sugar vegetable juices as the sugar content of fruit juices can overwhelm the body. After vegetable juices I would go to steamed vegetables and whole fruits. After that cooked grains and lastly legumes and nuts.
Depending on which diet you want to follow after the fast, it is also possible to break the fast with high-fat foods. Starting with an avocado or raw nut butters is a good idea.
I have tried both approaches and both of them worked.

Interesting benefit of short 7-10 day fasts:

I have found that the greatest benefit of a 7-10 day fast, in practical terms, is that is completely resets your taste buds. That gives you the opportunity to follow any diet you want after the fast and if you consequently stick to the new diet, you can taste and enjoy foods you didn't like before.
For example, after one of my water fasts I chose to eat the diet recommended by Dr. Esselstyn. A low-fat, whole-foods, plant-based diet, without oil, sugar and salt.
For most people that diet is very difficult to stick to in the beginning. But coming from a water only fast, the taste buds are so sensitive that it is easy to avoid all oil, sugar and salt. You basically compress the adaptation period of about a month down to one week of fasting.

From Vegan To Carnivore And Back - What I Learned

Yes, after more than six years of eating a mostly vegan diet, I have experimented with eating mostly meat. Why did I go from one end of the dietary spectrum to the other? Why not just eat a balanced diet?

To be honest, I would like to have some of this carnivore-stamina.

In my past, I had to deal with some digestive issues and cured them through a primarily plant-based diet. But I still had some areas that I was not totally satisfied with. I like to experiment with my diet and see how different foods make me feel. That way, I ate a low-carb vegan diet for a long time now. I am generally doing some form of intermittent fasting too. Among all the vegan foods and supplements that are supposed to improve health, I was attracted and may be blinded by the simplicity of the carnivore diet. Eat meat, drink water.

As it turned out, while working on a free-range cattle farm in Denmark, I had access to a lot of meat, which otherwise would have been thrown away. In this case, I had no moral or environmental issues with eating a lot of meat. Let the meat feast begin and my experiment with the carnivore diet.

I had no issues adopting this diet coming from a low-carb vegan diet. In the beginning, I was still eating a green leafy salad every day. But I reduced it over time. And for a few weeks, I ate almost exclusively meat, still including some coconut and olive oil, but basically no fibre.

I was very surprised to learn that this did not cause any constipation. Stools were of course considerably smaller, but easy to pass. My digestion felt good all the time. Basically, the feeling is similar to water fasting, pretty much empty all the time. Something to get used to, as there is no more being "full" after a meal. Satisfaction still set in though, just through a different mechanism it seems. Instead of the stomach being stretched it is more a signal coming from the brain.

I also did some blood-tests during this time. And this is where the diet became really concerning to me. Before the test, I rode my bike for 15 minutes at a moderate pace. I say that because it might explain the high triglycerides because I haven't eaten anything for more than 12 hours.

I am particularly concerned about the high cholesterol in combination with the CRP value being on the upper end of the spectrum. This means I fall into the high-risk category for heart disease. But according to some of the keto advocates I would be classified as a "lean mass hyper responder". Which means that lean and athletic people tend to experience the highest increase in LDL-cholesterol and total cholesterol. As the body as little other reserves and no glucose available it has to be able to quickly mobilize a lot of fat when exercising. To do that, the body produces a lot of cholesterol.

But I am concerned that this cholesterol is just not good for my arteries in the long run. Based on all the best available evidence, the overwhelming amount of research shows that is saver to have lower cholesterol levels. The whole foods plant-based low-fat diet is the approach with the most scientifically sound data backing it. Taking into account research funding by the industry it is clear that most of the low-carb and ketogenic research might be biased in favour of restricting carbohydrates.

Additionally, during some days on the carnivore diet, I experienced some intense chest pain, increased heart rate and blood pressure. I never had this happen before. Not even on a high-fat vegan diet.

Here is what I am going to do:

I have ended my carnivore diet around a week ago and started a water-only fast. I want to extend the fast to 14 days. Coming from a ketogenic diet is a good way to start a water fast as the body does not have to switch fuels from carbohydrates to fats. The transition period was easy.
After that, I will go back to the diet which I think is the healthiest in the long run: a whole-foods, plant-based, low-fat diet. Will I eat completely vegan? Probably not. On certain occasions, where the best quality meat is available, maybe a handful of times a year, I will eat meat. But that will still make my diet 99,9% plant-based.

This is the diet that has healed my digestive issues and has kept me feeling very good for the majority of my vegan period. But my experimentation with the low-carb approach was definitely interesting and has me taught to understand people eating carnivore. There are definitely benefits to this way of eating. But overall and for the majority of people, the whole-foods plant-based approach is by far the better option. And for the environment, it is anyways because even totally free-range raised meat requires much more land and resources than sustainably farmed plants. Not to mention that most people can't or won't afford the cost of this meat and instead by lots of factory-raised meat products.

Decision Fatique - Not Another Piece Of Information

You came across this blog looking for an answers, right?
You opened up your browser because you had some kind of question?
Your curiosity led you to search for experiences of others on the www, experiences you can relate to and learn from.
You want to reach a desired outcome by implementing what worked for others.
This is probably not the first time you use this method. This might have become your new normal.
You have a question or a problem? It surely is already out there, somebody has already lived through it and has come up with a solution. So, clearly, the most efficient way is to look it up.

Information overload? How confusion can help us see more clearly.

This is in fact not only you who I describe, but myself.
I grew up with the internet and with google. When I was younger I still had to use a computer every time I wanted to look something up and do it at home, but it was not so much different than asking google through a smartphone.

What is this new environment doing to the way we think and especially to the way we come up with solutions. How is our creativity influenced and has it changed our decision process?
How can we know what is right for us? Among all the different ways people life their lives and have made it visible through social media?
When do we reach the point where we can say we have read enough in order to make a decision?

How do we discriminate the honest from the dishonest?
Who is stuck in his story because he has created a product around the information he provides?
What resources are worth taking into account?
Can we judge the value of the information by how we feel about the person that is providing it?

You probably think that all of these questions make your decision more difficult instead of easier.
You are right and wrong at the same time. Because the resources, to deal with any deep and meaningful problem in your life, lie mostly within yourself. So you are right in the sense that the search for deep and meaningful answer from others are never going to fully apply to your own situation and is therefore highly confusing and very complex. And you are wrong because you can rely on your own insights to be fully applicable to your current situation.

I guess by the end of this you have noticed what I did here. Instead of giving you another answer or another personal life story you can compare your own to, I leave you with open questions. I hope that you embrace uncertainty and let yourself be guided again by your own creativity. I hope that, the next time you want to look for an answer on google, you pause for a second and remind yourself to tap into intuition and inner intelligence that lie already within you.
That is all we are doing here in all the blogs and videos anyways, we inspire each other and help each other learn faster and to avoid mistakes. But in the end, everyone has to craft his own unique path with it's own unique challenges and solutions. I guess that's why it's called Life.