Five Steps to Successfully Complete a Water Fast

Written by Matt Denman
January 07, 2020

Before starting a water fast, it can be easy to have misconceptions about what you’re getting yourself into. Personal biases can cause people to have a wide range of opinions about water fasting, such as it’s going to be incredibly hard or it isn’t going to be that bad.

I completed my first 30 day water fast back in 2009. I did it with plain water, which was really tough. I’ve done about a dozen 5 to 7 days water fasts, and completed a 2nd 30 day plain water fast in 2018. One experience I had was that it seems to be harder to control eating after completing a water fast. I also noticed that it was harder for me to contemplate another water fast after doing a 30 day water fast. It felt like there was a fear that grew in me out of it.

I recently did a 12 day water fast, but rather than just drinking plain water, I used 4 different salts in the water to help keep my salt balances up. This made a big difference in how I felt while fasting. I didn’t experience the typical issues I’ve consistently had while fasting in the past, mostly around fatigue and getting light headed when standing up. It also seemed to be easier to get into another fast after completing one.

Step One in Water Fasting - Getting into the right mental mindset

Doing a water fast even for just two or three days can be incredibly hard if you go into it with a poor mindset. I find that if I don’t get my thinking in order I will be battling with myself over breaking the fast. The human mind is more than just your consciousness, and it can seem like there are multiple thoughts running through your head, fighting for dominance to control the fasting.

Starting a fast without mental prep to make a strong commitment to completing the length of fast you set for yourself can result in easily breaking the fast, especially in the first few days. There are many reports of the first 3 to 4 days being the hardest for feeling hungry and fighting yourself about breaking the fast. I myself experience this and have blown what should have been a longer fast because I let internal voices get the best of me to eat within those first 4 days.

If you’re doing a water fast to lose weight and/or get control over blood sugar levels, sit back and think hard about the motivations behind that. Make sure you have one really strong motivation for doing a longer water fast. Make it something you can think back to while doing the fast.

Step Two in Water Fasting - Mix salts with your water

More and more people have indicated that salts mixed into their daily water makes a big difference in being successful. Many people on youtube have blown their longer term water fast when on plain water. There have been some great successes of really long fasts on youtube that were done with salt water. Recently, the fasting fatman youtube channel shows a man losing several hundred pounds doing a long salt water fast followed by intermittent fasting.

The following guideline for mixing salt with your water is one of several variations. This is the recipe I follow when I fast right now. I mix the following into 2 liters of water:

  1. 1 tsp Potassium Chloride - buy on amazon.com
  2. 1/2 tsp Himalayan Salt - buy on amazon.com
  3. 1/2 tsp Baking Soda - buy on amazon.com
  4. 1/2 tsp Epsom Salt - buy on amazon.com

Note that the above links go to the product you can buy on Amazon using our affiliate link. Purchasing those products through our links helps to support the KusogLife site.

Step Three in Water Fasting - Make small videos for yourself

It appears to me that one of the biggest reasons people quit their fast before their goal length of time is due to a faltering commitment to the fast. Their mind plays games, and it just takes one event to trigger that internal voice to become the main voice of reason and the fast is broken that fast. A sudden and unexpected stressor can send your mind into a frenzy and your success mindset can quickly fall to the wayside.

Having a strong emotional reason to lose weight can drive your success mindset through those mental frenzies that can come up when stressful situations happen. It can be very helpful to have some youtube videos to watch that will motivate you to stay on track.

One of the strongest motivational videos you can watch are the ones you make for yourself. I highly recommend that you make at least 2 or 3 short videos of yourself before you start the fast where you speak to yourself about the motivations behind it. It can be a really powerful experience if you are at your peak motivational state and can reach out to your future self struggling to stay on the fast by reminding yourself about where that motivation is coming from.

Hopefully you know the best way to speak to yourself to help stay on track. I find that there can be a couple of different attitudes to have in videos for myself that work well. Sometimes I want a “drill sergeant” hard motivation which somewhat belittles my weak self like a slap in the face. Sometimes I want a calming, caring voice letting me know it’s ok to feel scared or weak at times and to sort of hold my own hand through the experience.

If you find yourself sometimes motivated by the drill sergeant mindset, you might consider taking a look at the Snake Diet youtube channel. Be warned that the guy that runs that channel, Cole, swears more than anyone else I’ve seen on the channel, but it can be very motivational IF you find that type of thing motivational. Don’t say I didn’t warn you about the swearing though! You might find Cole’s video about “stress eating” to be a good one to see if his form of motivation is right for you.

So, consider for a while what type of motivations you have and what type of attitudes you can use against yourself in an attempt to stay on track. Make private videos for motivation that works best for you. Keep it for your eyes only if needed. The modern smartphone is a great tool to quickly record videos like this, but whatever method you use make sure they are quickly accessible as needed.

Step Four in Water Fasting - Find alternative ways to Feel pleasure

One of the biggest driving forces for the voices in your head telling you to break your fast can be the desire to seek out pleasure. Many people trying to lose weight use food as a way to feel pleasure and is often referred to as comfort eating. It’s really helpful to have other pathways to pleasure.

I’ve found it can be harder than it seems it should be to find alternative sources of pleasure that can really take the place of eating foods I love. It can be so easy to have something trigger stress or negative feelings which causes tons of emotions to come up and cause me to want to eat to feel better.

It can be exceptionally hard to combat that if you haven’t found something that can take the place of eating for comfort. Having external motivations like the desire to look thinner, be more mobile, or find a life partner can help to overcome that, but over time those motivations can waver and not be strong enough to keep you on track to reach your goal time on the fast.

I personally find that I need several different types of things to find pleasure in and even still they don’t really completely fill the void I can feel from not eating for comfort when needed. One of those motivators for me is buying new clothes that are smaller in size. I get moments of pleasure from seeing the waist size go down. Another pleasure I can get is walking and feeling lighter on my feet. Getting outside and walking on a nice day can be a great way to feel good.

I also find pleasure in day dreaming about scenarios around other people and how they interact with me over my weight loss. This might be coworkers, the boss, my spouse and other such people. This can often be the biggest way to overcome the occasional feeling of despair I can feel. I’ll lay in bed, close my eyes and vividly play out scenes with people like that until the desire to eat fades away.

However, I have to say that even with all those things, I can still get overwhelmed with feelings of wanting to eat for pleasure, especially if I’m forced to be around other people eating for pleasure. If you live in a household with other pleasure eaters it can become an extra challenge to deal with. Doubly so if you’re the one that has to prepare their pleasure food, such as for children you’re responsible to feed.

Be ready to take that challenge seriously and continuously look for new ways to feel pleasure as sometimes the ones you have can fade in their ability to keep you on track. Don’t get caught without something that can drive you to feel pleasure enough to overcome the desire to eat for comfort.

Step Five in Water Fasting - Track your progress and your emotions

The final step for better success with water fasting is tracking your progress and your feelings. The KusogLife website has a nice set of tools to help you set up your goal and track your daily progress. With KusogLife you can:

  • Define a goal to fast for a given amount of time, be it a few days, a week or a month
  • Add the salt water to your dietary items
  • Define another goal to drink at least 2 liters a day of the salt water
  • Define a weight loss goal to track your weight loss over time
  • Each time you have an emotional experience that impacts your fasting, record it with a note on the schedule calendar

You can choose to keep all your personal data to be private and local to your single device only. If you do that, none of your personal data is shared with the KusogLife website. Though doing that will mean you cannot switch devices and see your data. Know that we never share your personal data with others or any external companies if you do decide to keep your data on the site.

If you decide not to use the KusogLife tools to help you on your fasting journey, buy a notebook to use as a journal to track your daily progress. Without anything it can be hard to keep track of your progress and remember the ups and downs. Over time you may want to do more fasting and can use your past experiences to learn about yourself and improve your experience.

A Final Note About Water Fasting Over Your Lifetime

It may be that you need to take a bigger view of water fasting than just a single fast. If you’re fasting to lose weight, a single fast may get you there but it can be easy to gain the weight back after you start eating again. You may find that you want to incorporate regular water fasts into your life.

I highly recommend that you learn more about fasting and its impact on your body and health by reading some of the books by Dr Jason Fung, such as “The Complete Guide to Fasting: Heal Your Body Through Intermittent, Alternate-Day, and Extended Fasting”.

I also recommend that you watch a few of Dr Fung’s youtube videos such as “Therapeutic Fasting - Solving the Two-Compartment Problem”.

Whatever you decide to do, I wish you the best and good luck with your efforts. You can make it happen - you just have to believe in yourself and follow these steps to your own personal success.