The 7-10 day water fast

After you feel comfortable with the three-day water fast and your body can make the switch to ketosis without much fuss (more info here), then it’s time to consider the 7-10 day water fast.  For it’s only after you begin drawing solely on the energy of fat cells that the process of detoxification can kick into a higher gear (more info here).  This means that the three-day fast simply isn’t enough to confront any deeper issues you want to heal.

If you’ve found it difficult to get through your first few three-day water fasts, it’s only understandable that the thought of a 7-10 day fast seems even more daunting.  For this reason, I offer private online consultation as a fasting guide (click here).

Despite any doubts and fears emotionally, physically 7-10 day fasts tend to go more smoothly than you might first expect (so long as you’re healthy and don’t have any serious issues with detox).  This is because your body does the hardest work in the first three days while it establishes ketosis – during which your fuel tanks are also running on empty.  From the third day on, ketosis continues to become increasingly efficient, and so you’ll feel lighter and fuller with energy, like a well oiled machine.  Increasingly, the fast feels like a celebration of freedom from the daily need to eat food.  This freedom, as well as a lighter body and clearer consciousness, can feel so good that many people actually experience a sense of reluctance in returning to food at the end of the fast.  There really is a beautiful purity about just being, without the needs and addictions of food distracting you, weighing you down.

As your healing metabolism finishes establishing itself by the end of the third day, the digestive system also finishes shutting down its normal function.  As a result, most hunger pangs tend to subside after this point.  Given that digestion comes to a halt, it’s also extremely important to consider how and what you eat in the transition period both before and after any fast longer than three days.  The transition into a fast is important because you don’t want your digestive system to shut down with food still remaining inside the intestines.  It will rot inside you.  Not a pretty thought.  And as it rots, the toxic by-products aren’t going to help your body – precisely when you’re trying to detoxify.  The transition out of a fast is important because (continued below)


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your digestive system is hibernating.  It can’t digest.  You have to wake it up slowly and with respect, eating small portions of easily digestible foods.  Otherwise, you’ll be sorry!  Just as any food remaining in the gut at the beginning of a longer fast will rot, so a similar situation can occur now too.  Anything other than juices or the simplest fruits and vegetables will sit in your stomach, until your digestive system is able to cope.  This can and will take days.  After fasting, I find that the transition time back to normal eating with a normal appetite is similar in length to that of the fast itself.

I remember the exuberance of celebrating the end of my very first seven-day water fast by eating pizza.  It weighed like an anchor in my stomach for literally days afterwards…  Needless to say, I learned my lesson afterwards!

So what actually happens over a 7-10 day water fast?  How do you actually feel?

Days 1-3:
Of course, the first three days of a 7-10 day water fast generally follows the process described in the three-day water fast.  With experience, though, it will become much easier – even enjoyable – and the process to complete the switch to ketosis will accelerate.

Days 4-6:
After fully entering ketosis, your body can devote full resources to healing and detox.  You’ll know when this happens ;-).  Your breath will stink.  Your sweat and general body odour will stink, as your skin releases toxins which may have been locked up inside you for literally most of your life.  No, it’s not a very social occupation!  But directly experiencing the repulsive things coming out of your body can make you appreciate how good it is to be free of them!  It will give you the willpower to continue fasting in the future, no matter how hard it may have been in the beginning.  I myself became a convert to water fasting on day four / five of my first seven day water fast, when my tongue began to produce a foul metallic-tasting froth.  It tasted literally like poison.

Detox can also make the kidneys and muscles ache, but generally this is much more bearable than during the first three days, when you’re lower on energy.  You’ll find there are periods when physically you actually feel great, with a clear and still consciousness, and then this will pass into a period of deeper cleansing when you feel weaker and heavier.  During longer fasts, things always change.  From hour to hour.  From day to day.  There’s no apparent logic to it, so don’t try to analyse.  Just trust your body and go with the flow.  It knows what it’s doing: how and what to detox, where to heal, and when to take breaks in between these more intensive periods.

Days 7-10:
You might be wondering why I’ve not listed a ‘five-day water fast’ or something similar here on this website.  If you’d like to try four or five days, then by all means do!  Every day of fasting does you good!  But it’s because of what often happens around the end of the first week of fasting that, in my opinion, it’s worth aiming for a period of 7-10 days – but only once you’re ready emotionally to move beyond the three-day water fast!  It’s at this point that you may experience a so-called ‘healing crisis‘.  This occurs when your body has moved beyond the simple ‘house-cleaning’ of everyday toxins, and has started to tackle deeper illnesses, injuries and traumas (both physical and emotional).  This is also described in the article on extended fasts.

A healing crisis consists of symptoms of an illness returning or temporarily intensifying during the fast itself.  This can be a little worrying, especially if you don’t understand what’s happening to you at the time.  Nevertheless, it is perfectly normal.  Think of it like this: fasting calls the illness forth from where it is otherwise locked physically into the depths of your body and/or emotionally into your subconscious.  In calling it forth, you may temporarily experience the symptoms of the illness more acutely, but it is precisely through shaking it loose that you are then able to permanently expel the illness and truly heal.  Western medicine can hardly ever achieve this to the same degree, because toxic (allopathic) drugs and physical procedures tend only to reduce or suppress symptoms.  They do not deal with root causes of illness!

Given the degree of detox and depth of healing which occurs during a 7-10 day water fast, there’s no need to contemplate longer fasts unless you’d like to address a serious medical issue or unless you feel the need to go deeper into your being spiritually.  A weekly 24- or 36-hour fast (or regular intermittent fasting instead) combined with an occasional 7-10 day fast is all you’ll ever need.  Exactly how frequently you conduct a 7-10 day fast is up to you, but please don’t violate your body by fasting before it’s ready – even if your rational mind believes it’s for a good cause.  Once you’ve faced and overcome the basic physical and emotional challenges on shorter 1-3 day water fasts, you can begin to trust your body and what it wants.  At this point, your body always knows best.  When the time is right, you’ll feel an inner urge welling up inside yourself to do a 7-10 day fast.  You’ll look forward to it.  For some people this may be only once every few years, for others up to a couple of times per year.  Just follow your inner calling.

RELATED ARTICLES:

— A stronger immune system (click here)
— Deeper states of consciousness (click here)
— The deepest detox (click here)
— Extended healing fasts (click here)

119 thoughts on “The 7-10 day water fast”

    1. Hi April,

      Thanks for sharing.

      A black tongue (as well as other dark and scary colours) can easily be enough to frighten! In of itself, though, all it shows is a deep level of cleansing, and isn’t necessarily a cause for alarm. If we take a look at the information you gave, it actually comes as no surprise that you experienced this right now. (1) You woke up and found that your tongue was black. Of course, this was after a full night’s detox, while you were asleep and going through the deepest cleansing of the day. (2) It happened on Day 5. The first deep wave of a water fast’s cleansing can only begin after ketosis is fully established after the first 3 days or so. Based on what I’ve seen in countless cases, this usually happens around Day 4 or, even more likely, Day 5.

      Although not very common, a black tongue is usually an indicator that there are a lot of serious toxins to process. Have you been exposed to more than an average lifetime’s dose? (This may include exposure to prescription or recreational drugs, environmental toxins etc.)

      It’s important that, as much as possible, you give your body time to fully cleanse these toxins, completing the process of detox which has already begun. Your tongue itself is the indicator of when this process has reached its natural conclusion, and this means that, in an ideal situation, you’ll be able to continue your fast until your tongue changes back to a more normal colour. When were you planning on finishing your fast?

      For the next few days I’ll be able to answer any questions a little more promptly 🙂
      Tallis

      1. Thank you so much for your reply on my black tongue on day 5 comment. I have never taken prescription medication except for antibiotics a few times and Ibuprofen. As a matter of fact, I was finishing up a dose of antibiotics when I started the fast. I hadn’t taken them in years and thought it might be a good idea cause I had a sinus infection that wouldn’t go away. I finished my fast at 6 1/2 days because I was feeling really nauseous and ill. I know it was prob just detoxing but I had to go to work the next day and needed to be normal again. My black tongue had not cleared up completely, but it did look better. Also at the end of day 5 & 6 , my body eliminated a very sticky black tar looking substance. Never seen that before. I was also taking probiotics pills on my fast.

        1. Hi again,
          Regardless of the toxins you may or may not have been exposed to, the black tongue and tarry substance both show that your body was trying to cleanse itself. I’m glad your tongue was beginning to clear up before the end of the fast, but it would probably be a good idea to try and stay on a detoxifying diet for a while, to help continue the process initiated by the water fast. No diet will ever reach as deeply as a water fast, but you might be able to carry through some of the momentum from your fast. The best way to do this would be to eat only fruits and/or vegetables. The next best thing would be to eat a diet composed of mostly fruits and/or vegetables. Anything else takes more digestive energy, thus reducing the energy available to cleanse.
          Hope this helps,
          Tallis

  1. Hi

    Is it okay to have a herbal tea? Like chonyung tea once a day while having a water fast? Or Isit best to have nothing but water. And is chewing gum okay?

    Thanks

    1. Hi again Asiya,

      Is it “okay” to have herbal tea? Well that depends on how you’re approaching your fast. If you’re concentrating on simply the physical aspects of fasting (as opposed to deeper emotional and/or spiritual aspects), then herbal teas certainly don’t interfere with ketosis and the biology of the fast – in fact, many herbal teas help to stimulate detox.

      Chewing gum, on the other hand, isn’t such a good idea. The physical act of chewing stimulates production of saliva and stomach juices exactly at a time when you want your digestive system to switch off as quickly and efficiently as possible – especially for a longer fast like 7-10 days. If you “need” the chewing gum to help yourself get through the fast, then it won’t kill you. But I’d definitely avoid it if possible.

      Tallis

      1. Hi thank you for your reply!

        Yes I am doing it more for self control, weight loss and a good body detox. I managed to do 5 days then I was so weak I couldn’t even get out of bed so I had a handful of pasta and a hot drink. I then decided to continue my fast straight after and it’s been a further 3 days. I feel so much better and loads of energy and not hungry at all.

        I’ve been having chewing gum just for my breathe to be honest. So if I have herbal tea this shouldn’t affect my digestive system?

        Thank you 🙂

        1. Certain medicinal herbal teas can affect the digestive system in terms of speeding it up or slowing it down, but they won’t affect ketosis.
          Tallis

  2. Hi,

    I am on my 2nd day of a 28 day fast. I haven’t prepared at all! As I been eating quite unhealthy past month. I did cut down to one meal a day 3 days before I started.

    I just wanted to know should I be exercising? I have been quite lazy these two days and have some time off work so won’t be quite active this month.

    I had a lot of energy in me all day but now feeling exhausted and just want to sleep. Is this normal?

    My reason for fasting is to get rid of any toxins in my body and parasites! As they majorly freak me out. Also hoping to lose 1-2 stones in weight. I currently weigh 11 stone.

    Any advice would be great.

    Thanks

    1. Hi Asiya,
      Sorry to take a while in responding. I’ve been away these last few days.
      Hopefully by now you’ve figured out what is right for YOU in terms of exercise. Gentle exercise such as walking and easy yoga is a great way to move toxins out from deep tissue, which helps to prevent detox symptoms from building up. The important thing to remember, though, is NEVER to push yourself to the point of feeling out of breath or like your heart is pounding hard. This means you’re reaching the so-called anaerobic threshold, which means that your body will have to metabolise muscle instead of fat in order to achieve the energy levels you’re demanding of yourself. Gentle exercise, on the other hand, helps to promote fat burning (ketosis).
      All the best,
      Tallis

  3. Hello Tallis,

    Great article and thank you for all the great information!

    I am on day two of a planned 10 day fast. This is the first time I have ever completed a fast and honestly the first time I have probably ever gone more than 8-10 hrs without eating. I operated from a traditional mindset as a wanna be bodybuilder, that I needed to eat every 2-3 hours. By no means am I a bodybuilder but I am in decent shape. I am a male 40 year old, exercise 3-5 days per week, started yoga about 4 time a week this year and weigh 175 with about 18% body fat.

    My question/concern is, should I be worried if I did not prepare for the fast? I actually over indulged some the days before knowing that I was not going to eat for the next 10 days.

    I am feeling pretty good right now and have been only drinking water (w/salt and creme of tarter) and black coffee. I feel like I can make it to 10 days but is it going to be dangerous since I did not prepare?

    Thanks,
    Gabe

    1. Hi Gabe,
      Thanks for writing.
      So, before getting to your question, can I ask you: are you doing a water fast or a cream of tartar and black coffee diet? 🙂
      I’m not sure why you’d want to add salt and cream of tartar to your water…

      You should also know that black coffee is just going to acidify your digestive system and prevent it from fully switching off, when instead you should be leaving your stomach alone! If you’re addicted to caffeine and don’t want to detox from this during the fast, then I’d DEFINITELY switch to green tea for now, because green tea has caffeine without the acids.

      Okay, is it dangerous that you haven’t prepared? I highly doubt it. In instances of natural disasters, for instance, when people have been buried alive or unexpectedly separated from food for a number of days, I’ve never heard of anyone dying or suffering serious consequences from not preparing beforehand. However, a good preparation is likely to make your fast go more smoothly. The best way to prepare is by slowly reducing food intake over a few days, while cutting out different food groups until only fruits and vegetables remain. So… indulging in extra food beforehand isn’t going to help things because you’re actually stimulating your digestive system before suddenly switching it off for 10 days. Also, with more food sitting in your gut when you start the fast, more of it is going to start rotting inside you. This is especially true if what you were eating wasn’t high in fibre and is therefore slower moving in your gut. This means it’ll probably end up sitting in your intestines for the duration of your fast, and could well lead to bloating. You’ll see.

      Besides this, a lack of preparation isn’t going to kill you either! If the stagnant food does cause you discomfort, then an enema is the quickest and easiest solution. You’ll see.

      Hope all goes well – you’ll survive!
      Tallis

      1. Great, thanks Tallis! Almost done with day 3 and I feel pretty good actually!

        The salt and cream of tartar was recommended on another blog I read. The creme of tartar is really high in potassium.

        I really dont like the taste of the black coffee so I will definitely cut that out tomorrow morning. I just had a half of a cup today. I think it really has helped with the caffeine withdrawal headaches since my body was used to 400 to 500 mg per day. I haven’t experienced them too much but only on day one and two.

        Thanks again!
        Gabe

        1. Glad to hear you’re feeling okay, Gabe.

          I’d cut out the cream of tartar. You’re not going to exhaust your electrolyte/mineral stores in only ten days! And besides that: anything you take INTO your body detracts from the process of detoxing things OUT of it. It makes sense, right?

          If you’re used to that much caffeine then of course you’ll be susceptible to headaches! But if you switch now to green tea and then gradually reduce the dosage from day to day, you can be off caffeine in a few days – and then finish your 10 days with a pure water fast 🙂

          Tallis

  4. Just finished my 1st 7-day water fast. Loved it. You mention doing a 7 to 10 day water fast up to a couple times a year (for some people). Do you think doing it 3 or 4 times per year is to often or unhealthy?

    1. Hi Marcus,
      Congratulations on your first 7-day fast!

      Good question about the frequency of 7-10 day fasts :-). Doing them 3 or 4 times a year isn’t going to be unhealthy if you’re eating well and fulfil all your nutritional requirements. Far from it, fasting like this is great for your health!

      The question is rather WHY do you feel like wanting to fast this frequently, racking up about 40 days of fasting per year? (Because most people certainly don’t!!!)

      Not like I’d want to put you off the idea of fasting or anything ;-), but I feel it’s important we examine our motives behind fasting in order to establish that it’s coming out of self-love, that the voice which is calling us to fast is truly authentic – and that it’s not coming out of self-hatred or even, ironically, issues related to addiction. For instance, anorexics often feel called to fast, but this is often a voice originating in the illness itself and only leads to a further deepening of inner wounds.

      I would say that one or two 10-day fasts per year is plenty to deal with the everyday accumulation of toxins. With each fast you’ll cleanse not only the accumulation of recently ingested toxins, but you’ll gradually go back further and further, deeper and deeper, eventually cleansing yourself of everything you’ve ever accumulated. If you have a specific health issue you’d like to address, I can see more frequent 10-day fasts serving their purpose – although in this case it would probably be more advisable to do less frequent but longer fasts.

      If you’re a relatively healthy guy, though, then why?
      I hope it really is out of self-love, self-discovery: out of the urge to experience life in its fullest.
      But only you can answer this question!
      All the best,
      Tallis

      1. Thanks for the thoughtful response!

        I am very healthy, weighing about 160 pounds (at average height).

        My reasoning is mainly spiritual (although I’m glad to hear of the physical benefits too). I’m Orthodox Christian and we believe, as many other religions do, that fasting brings you closer to God and affords virtues, like self control. I felt so free when fasting. And we consider the body a gift from God that we must take care of; hence my caution and question. I wouldn’t want to overdo it and hurt my body.

        Your thoughts?

  5. Hello. I was wondering if you have any points on getting past 3 days of a water fast? Ive tried twice already in one year period but cant seem to get past 3 days. Thank you in advance.

    1. Hi Mike,
      Thanks for writing. What do you really mean that you can’t “seem to get past 3 days”? Physically, your body most certainly can (unless you suffer from extremely rare medical conditions). As with so much else to do with fasting, it’s really a question of emotional/psychological resistance. What is holding you back? If you can be more specific, I’ll be able to offer possible solutions.
      Tallis

      1. I do apologize for not being specific. I meant emotional/psychological resistance. I have these thoughts around day 3 where I am leveraging eating vs. not eating. How does a person change their state of mind to keep going through with the water fast? Also, I keep craving fast food & sugary foods right around day 3.

        1. Well, the reason that your mind is playing tricks on you is ultimately because of fear. Fear of not eating – and ultimately this relates to a fear of starvation and death from not eating, even if rationally you know that a 7-day fast isn’t going to kill you.

          The best thing we can do to assuage those fears is to take little steps into the unknown rather than big leaps. Jumping from 3 days to 7 days can certainly feel like a big leap, given that it’s more than double the length. My advice to you would be to try 4 or 5 days next time. Make it something more manageable, something which feels more easily within reach.

          If you’d prefer to aim immediately for another 7-day fast, then my advice would be to work with someone who can provide support, helping to coach you through your fears during the fast. (If you need, I provide online consultations precisely for this reason: https://waterfasting.org/water-fasting-the-path-to-physical-and-spiritual-healing/online-personal-consultations-and-fasting-guidance/).

          Hope this helps,
          Tallis

          1. Many people suggest that preparation is key. For example I found this post goes into interesting detail on the nutritional side of preparation.

            https://www.tylertolman.com/health-articles/10-day-water-fast/

            Personally, I’m on day 8 of a ten day fast and started without preparation but bloated after too much Easter celebrations…

            My only other 10 day fast was 5 years ago, and it went well (except for a broken finger I got playing football with my son that seemed to take forever to heal…)

            Psychological preparation is important also – get a goal and a reason. Do lots of research to help sell yourself and be ready.

            Finally, be ready to break the fast carefully and slowly.
            See:

            https://www.livestrong.com/article/488952-how-to-eat-after-a-short-water-fast/

            and

            https://thequantifiedbody.net/10-day-water-fast-results/

            Good luck, and be well!

            – Robert

            1. Hi Robert,
              Thanks for sharing. Yes, preparation before and after a 10-day fast really is important! Thanks for the links – they all show possible approaches in how to approach this.
              Enjoy your last two days of fasting 🙂
              Tallis

  6. Hi

    I’ve read your article on 7-10 day water fast and decided to embark on it. The main purpose for fasting is I’ve been down with severe side affects (hormonal) from a hairloss medication (finasteride). It’s been almost 10 months and I’ve had limited success with allopathic medicines to recoup. After some research I learnt that finasteride is fat soluble and it makes sense to detox to recover. I am presently on day 2 of my 10 day water fast and I intend to juice fast day 11 – 13 before introducing any food. What are your thoughts on Ayurvedic panckarama detox, it is said to be the master detox. What do you suggest in my case ?

    1. Hi Rahul,
      Thanks for sharing, and sorry about the slow response. I’ve been unable to access my email over the last two weeks!
      You’ll have finished your fast by now. I hope all went well for you 🙂

      As to Ayurvedic pancharma, I’m certainly not going to criticise it. But you should know that the Ayurvedic approach to detox is different from water fasting. Ayurveda hardly ever recommends water fasting, given that the primary goal of Ayurveda is in balancing out the doshas. Water fasting has nothing to do with balance. It has to do with maximisation of your body’s abilities to detox. In this sense it’s “extreme”, and doesn’t fit into Ayurvedic philosophy.

      Water fasting is always going to be stronger in terms of detox than pancharma. Period. But it may leave you energetically a little out of balance (especially if you’re predominantly vata). It’s a question of pros and cons, of giving and taking.

      If you’re already on your juice phase, you could always follow this with pancharma. It certainly couldn’t hurt. And it’ll help to smooth things out following your fast.

      All the best,
      Tallis

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