As I woke up, my mind wandered to the health benefits from 3 day fasting and getting older. In my early 70s, life is good, but I'm starting to feel the years of wear and tear.
With all the obvious signs. Firm fat turning to wobbly fat! Skin morphing from silky smooth to crepey and wrinkly, from blemish-free to blotchy! Muscles to flab! These clear signs added to the invisible internal decay.
Will fasting benefit any of these?
Whether or not, having reached the so-called 'vulnerable group' – those seen as heading for infirmity with a growing range of ailments - I felt I needed to do something!
I had read that there were several benefits from 3 day fasting. These included reducing inflammation, lowering blood pressure, boosting brain function, increasing HGH production (human growth hormone), and delaying ageing and extending longevity.
All these just for not eating for a few days were too good to pass up. It sounded valid, and anyway, I felt I could do with a deep clean.
Thanks to a defective prostate, my previous night had been disturbed by 4 pee breaks, and today was the first day of my planned 3 days fast.
As an ageing male, I'm one of the many BPH (benign prostate hyperplasia) victims. This is an inconvenient disorder that affects the same percentage of men aged over 50. So, by age 70, 70% of men suffer from it!
For younger people to understand, it's a grandfather condition where the toilet becomes a priority. This because this "condition" (a design defect?) creates an uncontrollable urge to pee and "when you have to go ... you have to go"... immediately and anywhere.
So if you see an old man standing on the side of the road with his face buried in a bush, you'll now know why.
But, back to my thoughts about the fast. I was not doing it to lose weight as my weight has never been a problem ... but I had not escaped other age-related issues!
I had practised fasting many years ago and felt it was time to try it again. And decided that whether or not there were any real benefits, that after not eating for over 3 days, my mind would make me believe there were.
Day 0 of my 3 day fasting
Before starting the fast, my last meal was a delicious Sunday lunch of roast chicken and vegetables (all healthy). This is followed by a large bowl of ice cream and chocolate sauce (not healthy but a good start to a fast).
The next few days would be interesting. It was a weird feeling knowing that there would be plenty of food available and you're planning to starve yourself.
My plan was that for the 3 days, I would only have liquids: mainly water, black coffee and some broth.
My day started with a customary 2 minute cold shower. A morning ritual I've practised all my life which fortunately is not too harsh in places like South Africa in summer.
Another creeping age-related disorder is my inability to concentrate. So as I'm writing, I get distracted by searching to find the font used by Grammarly and the closest alternative font in Word. Then a question, "Is this age-related or have I always been like this?" And that raises another concern "Why so many questions?"
Like other parts of the body, one's memory and knowledge also appear to shrink with age. Or is it that there's just so much more to learn about and understand?
But I digress, so back to the 3-day fast.
My "food" for the day started with a mug of hot water with a pinch of salt. The salt has something to do with electrolytes which I didn't fully understand, but it was recommended.
I wondered how many more toilet visits I'd have to make over the next few days on a liquids only diet?
I drank a glass of water at 10 o'clock, followed by a cup of black coffee at 11 o'clock. Fortunately, a year back, I changed to black coffee with no sugar, so at least the taste was familiar. I missed a morning biscuit or snack, but I was not hungry. With another thought, 'Is my mid-morning biscuit eating another habit I should change?'
Lunch at 1 pm was a glass of cold, berry-infused green tea. Followed at 3pm with a glass of water before my afternoon walk.
I was 24 hours into the fast, and I felt fine.
An easy one-hour walk took me to my next indulgence for the day ... the second cup of coffee! Followed by another cup of cold berry-infused green tea as a sundowner. For supper, I had a homemade chicken broth. I had made this with the leftover roast chicken bones, boiled up with water, onion and garlic. A cup of this watery concoction with added salt was supper.
Later that evening, I had horrible diarrhoea. Like the kind you have after taking Suprep Bowel Prep before a colonoscopy. After this my stomach didn't sound happy and grumbled and mumbled through the evening.
But overall, I still felt fine.
In the morning, I felt tired and lethargic but otherwise in good shape—not hungry and no headache.
The day again started with a cup of salted hot water followed by another cup of hot water.
Drinks through the day were:
- A cup of weak hot berry-infused tea (I had made a large jug before the fast started),
- 2 mugs of black coffee and
- 2 glasses of sparkling water with fresh lemon juice.
At lunchtime, I walked to the shop to buy lemons and sparkling water. These combine to make a deliciously refreshing drink. Later in the afternoon, I took another short walk.
My supper was a cup of Bovril (beef broth) followed by another bout of horrible diarrhoea!!
But I wasn't hungry and felt clear-headed and cleaner!
After a restless night, I woke feeling a little fragile. Not hangover fragile but not vigorous.
My first drink was hot water with lemon and salt. Followed through the day by:
- 2 cups of weak hot berry-infused tea,
- 2 mugs of black coffee,
- 2 glasses of sparkling water with lemon juice and
- 2 glasses of water.
My daily walk was an easy 4 k's along the beachfront on a very windy day.
At supper, I wasn't sure what to eat or drink and decided to push through until the morning to extend the fast to 90 hours.
Again I had diarrhoea after dinner, although I hadn't eaten anything. It was a bit confusing why this was happening, but it may have been one side-effect of the black coffee?
I woke up feeling clear-headed and not a bit hungry. As I brushed my teeth, I noticed that they felt so smooth!
90 hours in, and my fast was over.
I started breaking the fast with a cup of hot water with apple cider vinegar and lemon juice. Followed by my first solid food in 90 hours of a banana mixed with a few spoons of double cream yoghurt.
At 11am, I had a two-egg, cheese and tomato frittata.
Summary of my drinks
- 2 glasses hot water with salt
- 1 glass of hot water, salt and lemon
- 4 glasses of water
- 6 cups of black coffee
- 4 glasses of sparkling water with lemon
- 5 cups of berry-infused tea
- 1 cup of chicken broth
My 3 Day Fast Results - Was it worth it?
Although I had no intention of losing weight, I lost 2.8 kgs, down from 72.2 kgs to 69.4 kgs. But I think the bulk of the loss could be the food that's usually working its way through your system? But there's no doubt this loss could be bigger if you're planning to lose weight.
Hopefully, all the good things that are supposed to happen healthwise do occur. That there are fewer cancer cells and fewer Alzheimer forming cells roaming around in my body, and I might even get to live a few hours longer?
This 3 day fast is not difficult to do. After day one, all hunger pangs are gone, so it just requires a bit of discipline. I'd also discovered that sparkling water with lemon is a refreshing drink.
Will I do it again? Definitely! Encouraged by this experience, I'll also try a low carb diet for a while and see how that goes.
If you decide to do a 3 day fast, please let me know in the comments below how it went for you.