You wanna know what it’s like to eat absolutely nothing for 5 days? I was visiting family, eating too much, drinking too much and socialising – when the idea occurred to me to give my body a rest from all that digestion-overload stuff.
And that got me thinking . . .
I toyed with the idea some, threw it around from side to side like a game of ping-pong, yes-no-yes-no, until a light exploded in my head and suddenly I said, ‘I’m going to do a 5 day fast when I get home’.
It felt like a great decision.
I mean, not in a serious way, I’d done intermittent fasting for shorter periods. Plus I’d read up on prolonged fasting.
So I wasn’t scared for my health at all. In fact, I was doing this for my health.
But it was still scary to imagine a whole 5 days not eating.
Ok so I know other people fast and it doesn’t sound scary. It’s just somehow different when it’s ME.
The idea of not eating any food whatsoever. . . I mean, that was just too weird to imagine.
And I’d read that the hunger stops once the body switches over to burning keytones, but I didn’t know exactly when I would stop feeling hungry on a fast.
You might have guessed it already – food plays a central part in my life. I adore being vegan & WFPB and eating all the range of colourful veggies.
The idea of 5 whole days without ANY mealtimes blew my mind.
And then I was excited.
So I thought I’d share my journey with you – but of course it’s different for everyone. This is just my story this time. Next time it will be different. For you it will be different.
So here’s a story about a woman in her mid 50s (me lol) and lots of large glasses of water. And herbal teas.
Table of Contents
Why did I Fast for 5 Days?
Well, honestly, my motivation wasn’t to lose weight even though I’d love to throw off a few kilos. My drive came from needing to experience it, to know what it’s like.
To reap the benefits of autophagy and to actually see what it’s like to live without eating. To take control of my own reactions to hunger. To experiment. To feel it.
Once I was on the fast I got a bit excited to see the weight falling off literally by the day. And one of the unexpected benefits what the complete 360º change that came about in my subconscious mind relating to eating and to hunger.
This 5 day fast made doing the OMAD diet an absolute breeze for me. It got me into training, showed me that hunger doesn’t matter. Doesn’t have to be unpleasant.
I’ve always felt better without breakfast, so intermittent fasting comes naturally to me. Some people they might wonder which is better intermittent fasting or OMAD but for me the perfect solution is a combination of the two.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. I’d never tried prolonged fasting before and the idea of autophagy intrigued and excited me.
(Autophagy = the healthy cells mopping up our system by munching on damaged, inflamed and diseased cells.)
I was fascinated, and more than a bit in awe of the idea of not actually eating anything for a whole day. My brain struggled to imagine what that would be like!
And the fact that it was so absolutely alien to me, made it attractive too. Would fasting slow down my metabolism?
How to Prepare for My 5 Day Fast
Well, actually there’s two things going on here. How you should prepare and how you do prepare.
Sometimes they’re the same things and sometimes they’re not.
And if you wondering why fasting is so hard, it might just be that you haven’t prepared well enough for it. Because fasting needn’t be too difficult, but it can be. Ok, so maybe it’s not a walk in the park, but if it goes well, it’s not hard, either.
You should spend a couple of days before starting a fast eating clean, not drinking caffein, no alcohol and not eating huge portions.
That way you can ease yourself into the fast.
Above all, if you regularly drink caffeine and alcohol and/or consume a lot of refined sugars (think processed foods), you might end up with withdrawal symptoms and a horrible headache when you start your fast.
Believe me, I’ve had the dreaded withdrawal headache in the past, and it was right up there with the baddies. You know, like the hammer hammering away at your brain from the inside until it feels like your head’s going to explode.
Better to deal with any addictions before starting the fast.
I don’t actually drink caffeine or eat processed foods so I figured I was safe there.
But I did drink alcohol while I was away and leading up to my fast and if you’re thinking of doing a fast with a hangover, I wouldn’t recommend it as it could sabotage your experience.
But as I don’t drink alcohol habitually (any more), I figured that wouldn’t interfere with my well-being either. If you want to change your relationship with alcohol it would be better to focus on that first and leave the fasting for later.
And so, on Sunday night I did a self hypnosis session before going to sleep and my fast began.
My 5-Day Fasting Week Plan
- Weigh myself every morning when I first get up, but it has to be said that my old scales aren’t accurate, so I can only read to the nearest kg. If I really was focussed on weight, I’d need to buy a more modern set of scales.
- Drink vegetable broth once a day on days one and two. (See: can you drink vegetable broth while fasting?)
- On days 3,4,& 5 drink hibiscus tea, decaffeinated black coffee, herbal teas, water and salted water.
- Take vitamins: I took magnesium, phosphorus, B12, zinc and benfotiamine but the best approach would be to speak to your nutritional therapist or advisor about which ones are right for you.
The Start of the Fast, Sunday Night
I practised a little bit of self-hypnosis, allowing my narrative voice to talk me through the fact that I wouldn’t want to eat food in the upcoming days.
If you’re considering a fast, I think it’s important to be clear about your motives.
Mine, on this occasion were to de-bloat, detox, and maybe as a bonus to lose a little weight at the same time.
If there was ever a perfect time to do this, now was that time.
A regenerative experience and an adventure – I’d never fasted for longer than 20 hours before.
I’ve done intermittent fasting on and off for most of my life, but that doesn’t really count because it’s so easy for me to do.
I don’t need breakfast. In fact, I prefer not to eat breakfast. I feel better on an empty stomach in the mornings.
Am I the only one who gets completely exhausted if I eat a big breakfast? And then I want to eat more than normal at lunchtime. I get more hungry earlier if I’ve eaten breakfast.
So, mainly because of that, I’ve always skipped breakfast, way before I came across the term intermittent fasting.
People used to tell me it was unhealthy. But I didn’t believe them.
3 meals a day didn’t feel good in my body. So I did 2.
But to go several days without eating anything, now that’s a different level altogether, and the challenge appealed to me.
I wanted to test being in charge of my hunger.
So it was on. Decision made. Conversations within my head done. Self hypnosis ticked.
Monday: Day One of a 5 Day Fast
- Weight: 70 kg
I embrace the feeling of hunger and visualise myself going all day without eating.
At around lunch time, I begin to feel the physical symptoms of the body requesting food so I made a basic oil free onion soup, so that I’d have something to put in my tummy to keep it happy.
I’d decided to allow myself a cup of vegetable broth on day one. It wasn’t really the whole soup recipe – I just boiled up an onion with a potato and some herbs, miso and a dash of Tamari (gluten free soy sauce).
I figured it made more sense to ease in gently and trick my brain into believing it was a wholesome soup (haha).
This seemed to be enough to settle my body down into the serious business of not eating any more.
In the evening I had 2 more cups of onion broth.
This was after a week of serious over-eating, so it was quite a leap from full-on to just a little.
Day 1 on onion soup went fine. Nothing to report.
Tuesday: DAY 2 of Fasting
- Weight: 70 kg
On day 2 I hadn’t decided whether to include a cup of onion broth or not. I started the day drinking my usual cups of herbal tea and decided to see what happened.
My mind didn’t feel sharp and I had a hollow feeling inside my gut. It was as though there was an air bubble inside me.
I found self-hypnosis harder to do this morning. As though my mind wouldn’t settle down.
My mind played with the idea of not eating. Over and over again, churning around the thought: Omg, I’m not eating anything.
My mind can’t really believe it actually.
But then I remind myself that we can all survive a few days without food. And get healthier for it.
I want to complete the challenge.
As long as I can I will . . . and I still can.
I now have a light-headed feeling, a difficulty in concentrating and a strange overall sensation. I’d quite like to lay on the sofa and do nothing.
Ok, come on. It’s only day 2 and I was eating 3 meals a day just 3 days ago. I went for it: 2 cups of onion soup broth.
Feeling empty, flat, blah, lathargic, slow-minded and more.
1 cup onion soup. That’s the end of the soup relationship. Over. Kaput.
No more, baby.
Feeling a little bit better than earlier.
weight: 70 kg
Can’t sleep. . . . strangely restless.
Wednesday: Day 3 of Fasting
A bit slow to get going this morning although I did get up at 8 a.m., with a slightly blank mind. But no hunger except brain-hunger and definitely feeling better.
As the day progressed, the better I felt. Hunger suddenly evaporated and I didn’t drink any broth or soup, just water with Himalayan salt, herbal teas and a couple of decaf coffees.
Not a very pleasant mouth – furry and bad tasting. I have bad breath too (ew sorry!). Gargling with hydrogen peroxide solution to control it.
I am overall slower than normal, and less productive. I haven’t experienced the super focus that people speak about when fasting. Instead my mind is slow – but ironically bitty and overactive when trying to meditate or practise self-hypnosis.
I forgive it, it isn’t used to being starved, after all.
I did experience a momentary sensation of greater beauty in the clouds, a little bit like hallucinating, where the colours became so vibrant and the clouds took on a life-form of their own, like giant animals in the sky.
It was nice. Special. Spiritual even.
I haven’t done any physical activity during this fast. I know lots of people do just fine but I’ve felt a bit/a lot low on energy.
Next time I fast I’d like to keep up some simple hiking and yoga. But this is my first time so cut me some slack, please!
In the evening I watched TV and went to sleep, tired.
Thursday: Day 4 of Fasting
- Weight: 67 kg
Difficult to get out of bed!
Lay in bed until 9:30 then got up feeling a bit weak and a tiny bit dizzy. Drank some tea and water with Himalayan salts in it and a decaf coffee.
I still don’t feel hungry except the small desire in my brain to eat. But the moment the idea of eating food appears in my imagination I flick it away and change channel.
I don’t daydream about food. That would make this torture, I think. Instead I say to myself, ‘Wowee! You’re doing it! 4 days without food! Whopee!!! Yaay!’
Went to the local town to do the shopping for everybody, including 3 shops and a bar and it was absolutely fine. No weakness, dizziness or anything like that. Just a normal trip to the shops with a lot less interest in the food!
I didn’t feel inspired to buy anything for our shopping list. Zero interest.
And a black decaf coffee in the bar.
Today is good. Still love the idea of eating though lol.
Friday: Day 5 of a 5 day Fast
- Weight 66kg
I feel great today!
No problem with feeling hungry or anything. It was so weird to think that I hadn’t eaten in 5 days!
Actually the day went so well that on a whim I decided to extend my fast for another 2 days. Little did I know that my body would disagree.
But don’t worry, I listen to my body if it complains.
And complain it did. . .
Saturday: Day 6 – Transition Day
- Weight 65kg
I woke up at 8 a.m. but I felt tired, not like getting up at all. So I lay in until 10:20. Then I got up but found myself feeling weak. I felt a bit dizzy and lightheaded and struggled to concentrate on my husband’s words as he spoke to me.
All I wanted to do was lie back down and my heart began to race. My blood sugar was dropping and it didn’t feel good so I decided to be happy with my 5 days!
Back to the onion broth, with a few slices of onion in it this time, to break my fast at 11 a.m., 131 hours after eating last.
And I so my fast was over.
It was time to feel extremely happy and gently start to re-feed my body.
Everyone speaks of being so careful when re-introducing food and I was surprised by how easily I ate my food on this day.
I ate half an avocado for midday break-the-fast, followed by an apple and 2 medjool dates.
In the evening I had 2 big bowls of onion soup, 1 kaki fruit and 1 date.
Did a 2 hour yoga class and it went fine.
Sunday: Day 7 Since Starting
- Weight 67 kg
Feeling completely back to normal except not as hungry as I used to be before!
Still feels like ketosis is working.
Went for hike for a couple of hours and it was incredible.
Ate one meal today – at 6 pm.
It was: a small bowl of spinach with kimchi, a large bowl of onion soup, 1 avocado with balsamic vinegar and nutritional yeast.
2 Medjool dates for dessert.
After that, I didn’t eat any more and I went on as usual with my work.
Tuesday: DAY 4 Post Fasting
- Weight 67/68 kg
I’m amazed how fast the weight goes back on even though I’m still hardly eating anything compared to pre-fasting.
End of fast completely.
I returned to normality with usual joy of eating. The weight fell off me during the fast and flew back on afterwards. It took a grand total 3 weeks to come back completely, though to be fair, I did do some emotional eating after the fast.
Final Thoughts on My 5 Day Fast
It was an incredible experience and one which I will repeat one day for sure. Since then I’ve adopted an OMAD (one meal a day) routine for 5 days and it’s sooooo easy.
I believe it’s because my body got into training with the 5 day fast. OMAD doesn’t cause me any stress, hunger pangs, worries, weakness or anything.
In fact, I think this totally suits my body but that’s another story.
It’s important to say that fasting isn’t for everyone. If you do want to try fasting, read up as much as you can about it before you start. As well as monitoring your weight it would be interesting to chaeck for ketosis and wise to monitor your blood sugar levels.
Fasting isn’t recommended for the elderly, for children, for anyone who resonates with an eating disorder or for pregnant women.
It’s also common sense to talk to an expert before you try to go 5 days without eating.
I am not in any way medically trained and this article is about my own personal experience. It is not intended as advice.