Fasting Guide: Signs You Should Break a Fast

Medically reviewed by Dr. Allison Merkey
Medically reviewed by Dr. Allison Merkey on August 29, 2020
Naturopathic Medical Doctor
Updated on August 29th, 2020
when to stop your fast

Fasting is one of nature’s most perfect, holistic treatments for a variety of health conditions. Fasting can chew up dead cells, cellular byproducts, parasites, and other unwanted molecules within your tissues. Fasting is a deep clean that stimulates detoxification, increases cellular metabolism, and gets your human-machine running smoothly.

There are many historical accounts of fasting in religious texts that attribute spiritual awakening to engaging in prolonged fasts. 

Listen to your Body

Most people choose to fast for between 1 and 14 days. Even a single day can have health benefits. If you are currently on a fast or considering fasting, it is important to be listening to your body during this vulnerable time. 

During a fast, you must be drinking water. Ideally, between 3 and 6 liters of water per day, depending on your body weight. (40mL per kg weight/ day). 

[Also Read: A Guide to Water Fasting]

Tracking Health Metrics

You should be monitoring some health metrics during a water fast. Your weight and blood pressure are the most important. During a water fast, you may notice your weight dropping. This is normal.

Moreover, if you notice that you are shedding more than one pound per day, you probably don’t drink enough water. Your urination should be almost transparent. 

Lump in the Throat

A few years ago, we had a patient who came into a clinic after an extended fast. She had not eaten anything for 30 days, and she also had not had any water for the last week. When she tried to swallow water, it felt like it got stuck in her throat.

This lump in the throat sensation is a danger sign. Her body was in survival mode. After a medical intervention, she recovered, but please do not let yourself get to this point. Drink water and if you cannot- it is time to stop and probably seek medical support. 

What do you need to be careful about?

You will notice changes in your blood pressure as your fast proceeds. This is normal. What you need to be careful of is a severe drop in blood pressure. If your normal diastolic blood pressure drops more than 25 mm Hg or your drop below 90/60, seek medical support.

Dizziness may be a sign of a drop in blood pressure. It is normal to get a bit of a head rush if you stand up quickly during a fast, but if that dizziness does not subside after a few moments or you have any fainting, you may want to seek medical advice or end the fast. 

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Simplifying our recommendations

In regards to ending a fast, go slow. The first day back after a prolonged fast should be raw, fruit juices like watermelon or carrot, and sipped slowly over the whole day. The next day you can include whole fruits and vegetables to your juice, and by day three, you should be including cooked foods.

We’re simplifying our recommendations for convenience, but a longer fast will need a longer refeed, and a shorter fast will need less time. Also, people’s needs vary quite a bit, so please consult a medical practitioner before engaging in a prolonged fast. 

Fasting is a wonderful self-Treatment

In short, listen to your body. Fasting is a wonderful self-treatment, but it takes time and multiple attempts, usually, to build up to a longer fast. Start with one or two days and see how you feel! Enjoy the process.

[Also Read: Intermittent Fasting Benefits]


About The Author:

Dr. Allison MerkeyDr. Allison Merkey, MS ND a naturopathic medical doctor, founder of YourNaturalMedicine.com and professor in the Maricopa Community Colleges. She have been a teacher for 15 years and now lectures up on YouTube and Udemy.com.

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