36-hour dry fast

desert (4x3)Over the weekend I did another 36-hour dry fast: my second in just over a month.  In this article I’ll lay out my experiences and impressions of both.  For general information about dry fasting, please click here.

I first discovered dry fasting a couple of months ago.  Before that, of course I’d heard of the concept of not eating or drinking, but – like most modern Westerners – had written the idea off as something for just religious nutters.  Surely, without water, there could be no cleansing and no possible physical benefits…  Then I started reading the work of Dr. Sergei Filonov, and realised how fear and ignorance have distorted our perception of this ancient practice.

I became intrigued by the idea of dry fasting.  First, as someone who has years of experience with water fasting, I was interested by the idea of an even more powerful method to detoxify and cleanse the body.  Second, there was a kind of aesthetic attraction: so simple, the idea of neither eating nor drinking – just being.  Third, as a runner, the kinds of 7- or 10-day water fasts I was accustomed to actually meant that de facto I was missing out on at least two weeks of running with each water fast, taking into consideration the transition time back into normal eating and normal energy levels.  The idea of a shorter fast with similar benefits was definitely appealing.  I wouldn’t lose so much fat in the process (I don’t have very much extra fat to begin with!) and could transition back to normal life more quickly.

So I tried out my first 36-hour dry fast over the Easter holiday.  It’s interesting how, psychologically, it felt so similar to my first 36-hour water fast.  Back then, the idea of not eating for a whole day felt daunting, even slightly oppressive, and there was an element of ego fearful for survival – as much as, rationally, I knew I wasn’t going to die in the process.  Here it was almost the same.  I’d never experienced life without food or water for 36 hours before, and, especially given the way we’re conditioned to believe that humans are incapable of living more than two or three days like this, something felt a little unnerved deep inside.

So what actually happened?

The whole experience was amazing!

desert sunlight death valleyHaving eaten my last meal Friday evening, the plan was to fast through until Sunday breakfast – that is, Friday 9pm to Sunday 9am.  One factor in the success of a dry fast is the ability to enter ketosis as quickly as possible.  This is because once you’re burning ketones, the metabolism of fat creates water, preventing dehydration.  Given my experience with water fasts, I know I enter ketosis pretty quickly, but I wanted to accelerate the transition – so dinner on Friday was low-carb, with most calories derived from fat and protein.

I woke up Saturday with a dry mouth.  Don’t we all, every morning?  But somehow there was an underlying anxiety that this might be the beginning of dehydration caused by the fast.  How wrong I was!  Usually when we wake up in the morning with a dry mouth, we drink something to start the day.  Hey presto, problem solved.  The amazing thing was that, within 10 to 15 minutes, the dry feeling in my mouth went away by itself, and for the remainder of the day my saliva felt completely normal!

In a sense, a dry fast isn’t completely dry, because ketosis generates water from within the body.  In metabolising fat molecules, excess hydrogen atoms are released from the fat which combine in the blood with oxygen forming – you guessed it – H2O.  Dr, Filonov estimates that the body is capable of producing one to one-and-a-half litres of pure water like this every day: more than enough to survive on.  I’m not entirely convinced about this quantity, for if it were true, then surely we could survive on a dry fast so long as fat reserves remain.  Clearly, this isn’t the case.  The world record for living without food or drink is 18 days, and any dry fast beyond a week is pretty extreme.  Nevertheless, the fact remains that I experienced no signs of dehydration throughout the duration of my own fast: no headaches, no dry skin or mouth, no significant changes to the colour of urine.  If urination is the most reliable indicator of dehydration, then urine production was slow but steady, as I consistently produced 0.15-0.2 liters every six hours or so.

In fact, almost unbelievably, I felt great!

I went for a five-kilometre walk in the afternoon.  Although feeling a little light-headed, I wasn’t stricken by weakness.  After a siesta, I woke again with a dry mouth.  This time I thought dehydration had surely set in.  Nope.  Just as in the morning, my saliva returned to normal within 10-15 minutes.  Around 5pm I started to feel a slight sense of pressure in my head, as if it could be the beginning of a headache.  But I just sat for a while and breathed slowly and deeply, and the feeling soon dissolved.

I went to bed Saturday evening fully expecting nausea and a killer headache by Sunday morning.  I’d read that the extreme cleansing which occurs with a dry fast usually leads to such symptoms the first few occasions.  All that actually happened was a dry mouth upon waking – which, once again, went away within 10-15 minutes.

To break the fast, I slowly drank a half litre of spring water, followed by a freshly squeezed lemon, and then two oranges.  Anna Yakuba, who runs The School of Healing through Dry Fasting and Raw Food in Ukraine, advocates this citrus mix to further cleanse and stimulate the liver before gradually returning to a normal diet.  I must admit, those oranges tasted particularly wonderful!  After only 36 hours without food or drink, though, no further transition was necessary, and I was eating normally by lunchtime.

The experience of that first dry fast incubated a curiosity and, funnily enough, yearning to try one again.  The second time around my experiences were very similar, except that, having survived the first fast, I felt no apprehension or anxiety.  I similarly went for an hour-and-a-half walk with the kids.  It was quite warm and sunny, and although I was careful not to sweat too much, I probably did lose a little too much fluid in the end, because energy levels were low for the next few hours.  Another factor for feeling tired through the afternoon could have been increased cleansing.  From 2pm onwards, my tongue was producing frothy extra saliva which – from the experience of previous water fasts – I recognise as a feature of detox.  The amazing thing, though, is that it should happen so soon after the beginning of a fast!  On my first 7-day water fast it didn’t happen until around the fourth or fifth day.  As I’ve gained further experience in water fasting, it’s gradually shifted earlier and earlier into each fast, so that on my last water fast the tongue-thing was happening already on day two.  But I’ve never experienced strong detoxing on the first day.  This means that I was already in full ketosis and detox/cleansing mode within 18 hours of beginning the fast.  Unbelievable!

I’m not suggesting that just anyone try out dry fasting.  If you have high levels of toxicity (as many people do in modern life), it will kill you in two or three days.  The cleansing is simply too fast, too powerful.  It’s something to consider only after experience with zero-calorie water fasting.  Just as I’d recommend that no-one try water fasting until feeling comfortable with juice fasting, I’d also recommend that no-one try dry fasting until feeling comfortable with water fasting.  And I mean comfortable: the thought of a week or so living only on water shouldn’t make you blink an eye!  I’m convinced this is the reason that, for me, the transition into dry fasting has been so smooth.

It seems to me that the success of dry fasting depends primarily on two factors: (1) the ability to move quickly into ketosis, as well as (2) having a relatively low level of residual toxicity in the body.  These two factors are ensured only with prior extensive experience with water fasting.  Please take this warning seriously!

In the months to come, I look forward to experimenting with gradually longer dry fasts – as much as family will permit me.  If fasting tends to effect those around you as well, then dry fasting has the biggest impact of all, causing loved ones considerable worry and fear.  Fair enough: this is to be expected, especially considering the ignorance and general misinformation surrounding the subject nowadays.  Regardless of the cause, though, it’s never ideal to fast in an environment where you have to take on the worries of others – instead of focussing within, where all the work is taking place.

10 thoughts on “36-hour dry fast

  1. Hello, I’m intrigued with the idea of dry fasting. My wife asked what the possibilities of getting kidney stones were if a person didn’t take in water to flush out toxins.
    I’m interested in hearing your thoughts.
    Thanks
    Larry

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    1. It’s a thought which crossed my mind too, before starting to practise dry fasting… First of all, I’d stress again that you should think about dry fasting only if you already feel comfortable with longer water fasts (a week or longer) – thus ensuring that your body already has a relatively low level of toxicity to it. Otherwise, here are my thoughts:
      1. Most kidney stones are a caused by calcium salts or uric acid crystalising – this has nothing to do with the toxins being released through fasting.
      2. Crystalisation may indeed be related to dehydration and low urine output, but it seems more likely to me that this would be a chronic process taking place over the course of months and years rather than hours and days. Crystals simply need time to build up – stalagmites in caves, for instance, take millions of years to build up…
      3. Dehydration – thus causing the low urine output mentioned in (2) – should not be an issue with shorter water fasts (anything less than 3-5 days), given that your body produces water through ketosis. If you find that you’re not producing a slow but steady amount of urine during your fast, then you should stop the dry fast. In this respect, I’ve documented my own experiences here on the website. If your body isn’t producing urine, then it’s a sign that your body is already chronically dehydrated (through bad diet and/or heavy toxin build-up over the course of your life) – again, something which is has nothing to do with the dry fast itself!
      4. For what it’s worth, I’ve never heard of or read about kidney stones caused by dry fasting.
      There’s so much fear surrounding dry fasts – and it’s especially difficult for those around us when we decide to experiment with the practice. I’d recommend starting slowly, with something that causes less fear to your family (and possibly yourself too :-)). Even if you yourself don’t feel any angst, it’s a whole lot harder to fast when you’re surrounded by and subsumed in the fear of others. Why not try a 24-hour dry fast first? If your wife sees that you don’t suddenly develop a kidney stone after 24 hours, then it’ll probably be easier for her to accept a 36-hour fast next time. And in any case, it never hurts to walk before you run!

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      1. Hello, how are you?
        Thank you for replying. I’m excited to try dry fasting. But I need to work on water fasting some more. My only water fast was 7 days, I really enjoyed it.
        I’ve read many people’s claims that with water fasting, eventually the body begins to repair itself from beginning of a water fast to the signal of true hunger.
        I wonder if the body would repair itself during a dry fast.
        What are your thoughts?

        Thanks!
        Larry

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  2. Good idea to wait until you have a little more experience with water fasting – but the fact that your first 7-day experience went so smoothly is a really good sign!
    I’d say that it’s definitely more than just peoples’ “claims” that the body heals itself through fasting. There’s oodles and oodles of evidence. It’s just that Big Pharma doesn’t stand to make a profit by promoting fasting as a health modality. So it’s not widely advertised. I myself, for instance, accidentally cured myself of years’ long sinusitis over the course of two week-long water fasts separated by six months. I didn’t even realise what was happening at the time. What a dope! It’s amazing to go through a healing crisis and then be truly free from illness.
    There’s no question that dry fasting can do the same.
    After Chernobyl, Dr. Filonov even talks about dry fasting as the only means to heal the worst cases of radiation poisoning. He also applies dry fasting as a method of curing to other serious diseases, including cancer.

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    1. Nice article. But as a Muslim, who dry fasted from a child ( we start off with partial days) I would disagree with this idea that one has to be used to water fasting to dry fast. For many people, even those who start later in life.. dry fasting is actually a lot easier than the water fasting because you are still having to digest the water. So the stomach is stimulated and this can cause even more hunger or cravings.

      I have dry fasted up to five days and on the fifth day carried up many gallons of water up to my apartment ( the elevator was out) without any problems. So I think that if a person prays on it, or is called to dry fast, they should go ahead and try it. Or perhaps do a partial dry and break with water and continue dry.

      That’s my two cents.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for your thoughts and feedback. I’d say you hit the nail on the head in describing your own experiences: dry fasting should be no problem, especially if you’ve grown up with it, because (1) regular fasting means that on a physical level you’ve never accumulated a large quantity of toxins and (2) emotionally/psychologically you’re completely at home with the idea. I also agree with you about it being potentially easier for other people too. Increasingly, when I plan on doing short-ish water fasts myself, I find them evolving into dry fasts because I don’t feel the need to drink.

        Having said all this, though, it’s also a fact that many people who’ve followed a standard Western diet unload their toxins too quickly if they dry-fast without any other previous fasting experience, causing headaches, nausea and other unpleasant symptoms. Along with this, if there’s an element of fear involved, this only makes the physical symptoms worse. If you pray on it, though, and put your faith in God as you do, it all goes much more smoothly.

        If you feel called to dry-fast, then a short one certainly won’t kill you. I suggest water-fasting before venturing into dry fasts simply in order to err on the side of caution.

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  3. Hi just wondering how long u waited to get back into strenuous exercise after the fast?

    Im unsure if lifting heavy weights 12 hours after the fast is okay or even running?

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    1. After 36 hours, it shouldn’t take long to adjust back to your usual routine. For me the only thing I’ve noticed is a bit of stiffening in the muscles if I try to run too far the next day, probably because I’ve not fully re-hydrated deeply enough on a cellular level. I suppose lifting heavy weights might also lead to a similar sense of tightening. In any case, your body will let you know if there are any after-effects. Just respect that, and I’m sure you’ll be fine. By the second day, I never notice any limitations from the fast.

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  4. Hi Tallis, thank you for sharing your account of dry fasting. I too just finished my first 36 hour dry fast, and I loved it! I have experience with water fasting, but during my last water fast my kidneys started hurting on day 5. I cut the water fast short, and started to focus on consciously supporting my kidneys. During the dry fast I jumped into ketosis pretty quickly and experienced great energy. The only issue I ran into was that my urine was discolored and it was painful to pass right before I went to bed. I’m taking this as a sign that I still need to support detoxing my kidneys. I am interested to hear your journey with longer dry fasts.
    Peace and health to you and your family!

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    1. Hi,
      I find kidneys can often ache during both water and dry fasts, both in terms of my own experience as well as that in guiding others. What you say about getting more quickly into ketosis during your recent dry fast sounds familiar, and it corresponds with general opinion too. It’s totally normal for urine to darken during a dry fast, but pain is always a warning sign!
      If I were you, I’d continue in the future with water and dry fasts of similar lengths to the ones you described in your comment, lengthening their duration (if you feel the need to do so) ONLY when your kidneys no longer bother you.
      Peace and health to you too :-),
      Tallis

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