Inside: It seems like everyone these days is touting the benefits of intermittent fasting. Read on to discover what happened during my 3 day fast and tips for what not to do.
Disclaimer: All of these thoughts are my own. However, as an Amazon Associate, I may earn a small commission if you purchase from one of the links below.
I was laying in bed one night overtaken by anxiety when I remembered an allergy test that I had taken several years ago. When I was young and broke (God, it feels good to use past-tense there), I would lie about my job and sign up for marketing studies that paid for my opinions (most marketing studies don’t want the opinion of other marketing executives, so I always claimed to work at a golf course).
This particular study promised a free allergy test as long as I had PPO health insurance. At the time, I wasn’t aware of my serious health issues, so I didn’t pay much attention to the results.
Years later, when I looked back at the blood panel, I realized how dire my results were. This catapulted me into learning more about gut health.
You can see the blood work here. Out of 33 nutrient levels measured, I was out of balance in 10. In other words, 30% of my blood work came back as either too high or too low. I’m not a doctor, but I’m pretty sure that’s not ideal.
Why did I decide on a 3 Day fast?
I actually decided on a 4 day fast, but only made it through three days.
I started out by researching books on intermittent fasting and landed on this one: Healthy Gut Healthy You by Dr. Michael Ruscio. It had good reviews on Amazon as well as a Good Reads, which is fairly hard to rank high on.
I feel like a feather inside and out. It’s like my body and brain are no longer weighed down with the task of digestion and are free to process other things, like heightened senses.Disability Dame
What particularly struck me was his use of scientific data to back up his claims. It’s by no means a book written with an overly optimistic, crunchy vibe. It clearly leans on research and clinical studies, rather than wispy metaphysics.
While I will say it’s jam-packed with beneficial information, it takes an excruciatingly long time to get to the action plan. It’s more of a textbook when you need a pocket guide.
The 4-Day Fast Plan
Dr. Ruscio lays out a “Great-In-8” action plan that involves eight steps to healing your gut. You may not have to go through all eight steps, depending on your symptoms. However, as someone who may have early-onset ALS, I knew there would be no reduction of steps in my case.
The action plan’s first step is a gut reset that entails a 4-day fast for optimal benefits. I can be weak-willed at times, which is why I’ve never gone more than 10 hours without eating (even after committing to a 3-day juice fast, in which I gave in for cinnamon-coated pecans a mere 2.5 hours into the cleanse).
On Dr. Ruscio’s 4-day liquid diet, you can choose either cayenne lemonade or bone broth. Herbal tea is also allowed in both fasts. I chose the cayenne lemonade. I’m not sure why, but Dr. Ruscio stresses the importance of using fresh organic lemons and not organic lemon juice from a jar (obviously, no actual lemonade that includes sugar).
Not one for reading directions, I skipped this part when my husband later pointed it out. I wanted to do the fast exactly how prescribed, so I ended up ordering a bag of fresh, organic lemons to be delivered to our house the next morning.
7 AM – I woke up bright and early on a Thursday morning and walked straight to my refrigerator, excited to try the lemon cayenne concoction. With my eye on the prize, I guzzled it and was surprised by how well the citrusy, sour taste of the lemon combined with the sweet maple syrup and the spicy cayenne complemented one another. Maybe this won’t be that bad after all…
1 PM – Still feeling great and empowered that I’ve made it this far.
5 PM – I’ve felt a few hunger pangs but nothing I can’t ignore. I resolve myself to playing with Asher and binging The Real Housewives of NYC.
6 PM – OK, Charlie is putting Asher to sleep. I decide that I’ll go to bed early too, so I don’t think about food.
Review: Day one of the 4-day fast wasn’t that bad. I ignored the thought of food, for the most part. If my husband was in the kitchen, then I just left the room. All in all, I’m feeling pretty good and definitely think I can make it through all four days.
7 AM – I wake up bright and early, but I’m not feeling quite as chipper as I was yesterday. I get Asher up. I go to grab the cayenne concoction and wish that I was reaching for a coffee instead.
9 AM – Thank God I can finally put Asher down for a nap. I don’t have a lot of energy to watch a six-month-old all day long.
12 PM – Where is this god-awful headache coming from? Am I having caffeine withdrawals? Can that happen after just one day? It doesn’t seem likely.
3 PM – Fuck this drink. I hate my life. I am over all of this.
5 PM – My husband decides that he wants to cook chili tonight. Really, of all things? It couldn’t be some dry-ass baked chicken that he loves torturing me with on weekdays? The chili aroma inevitably sends me into a spiral, and I decide to call it a night at 5:30 PM.
9 PM – I’ve been laying in bed watching The Real Housewives since 5:30, and I don’t feel tired at all. While I have no energy, my brain has all the time in the world to reel about things that don’t matter.
Review: Phew, not exactly what I call an enjoyable day, but I power through it knowing there is an end in sight.
7 AM – I wake up and still have the nauseating headache from the day before. I’ve decided to wave off any kind of painkillers since I’m not eating and don’t know how I would react. I go to the fridge but can’t bring myself to pull out the cayenne concoction.
11 PM – I’d rather do this solo, than having to drink that lemon-flavored gasoline again. I decide that I’ll drink herbal tea and water for the rest of the day.
1 PM – My husband asks if I want to go on a walk around the neighborhood. I go and feel a brief sense of euphoria. I feel like a feather inside and out. It’s like my body and brain are no longer weighed down with the task of digestion and are free to process other things, like heightened senses.
3 PM – The hunger pains are gone and I don’t even notice the smell of pizza wafting from the kitchen. I am in a much better mood than I was yesterday and can tolerate a lot more of Asher’s nonsense.
6 PM – I still decide to call it an early night, since I don’t know how long this enjoyable feeling is going to last. I think to myself that I could even go longer.
Results: Day three was definitely the most enjoyable of this fast. I felt an all-new feeling of weightlessness that’s hard to describe. It felt like I was giving my digestion system the day off, and it was finally able to relax for the first time in years. Despite feeling hungry, my brain had a feeling of clarity I had never experienced.
2 AM – I wake up with uncontrollable convulsions and an overwhelming sense of nausea. I think to myself, I’m going to throw up and immediately run to the bathroom. When I’m in the bathroom, I can hardly stand up and I’m frantically shivering. This definitely isn’t normal. I debate on waking up Charlie and asking him to take me to the hospital. I’m not an overly dramatic person, but that’s how bad I feel.
I decided that my body is telling me it’s had enough and it needs food. I stalk back to the kitchen and half-heartedly peel a banana. After three meager bites, Charlie walks into the kitchen for a glass of water. He asked what I’m doing awake and I tell him about the experience I just had. I relent that I feel like a failure since I didn’t make it through all four days of the fast.
Results: I ended the 4-day fast 18 hours before the four days were complete (so I did a 3 day fast and some change). I immediately felt better after eating the banana. The next morning I took introducing food slowly and had a rice cake with almond butter for breakfast. While I was mildly disappointed for not making it the entire four days, I’m very proud of myself for sticking with it for three days.
What You Shouldn’t Do During A 3 Day Fast
- Don’t stop consuming anything at all – No matter how tired you are of drinking your cayenne lemonade or your bone broth, do not stop drinking it and rely on air as your means of nutrition. On the third day, I didn’t drink any cayenne lemonade and had maybe two glasses of water and one cup of tea. There was absolutely no nutrition in my body, which is why I think I woke up with such severely low blood sugar.
- Don’t cut out coffee, if you’re used to it – Since the goal is to cleanse your gut, consuming something acidic like coffee probably isn’t the best idea. But if I were to do it over again, I would make coffee an exception.
- Don’t start your fast after dinner – Do not start your fast after eating dinner, because you’ll end up doing an extra 8 or so hours. For example, if you stop eating after dinner on a Thursday night at 9 p.m., then you’re 3 day fast won’t be over until 9 p.m. on Saturday night. This means that you’ll have to either go all day on Saturday knowing that you can’t eat until 9 p.m., or you’ll go to bed early and actually extend the fast into the next morning. The best thing to do is start the fast after lunch on Thursday at 2 p.m., then the fast will end on Saturday at 2 p.m. This will be a huge mental advantage.
- Don’t fast to lose weight – Obviously, I lost weight from not eating for 3 days, but I’m not even going to entertain the idea of promoting fasting to lose weight. If you’re trying to lose weight, then you go about it in a more realistic way such as eating whole fruits and veggies.
- Don’t gorge yourself with food after finishing the fast – Start slow with simple grains and whole foods.
Final Thoughts What During After My 3 Day Fast (and What You Shouldn’t Do)
After doing a 3 day fast, I would recommend it for anyone trying to reset their gut health. It definitely wasn’t the hardest thing that I’ve ever done — It’s more of a mental game. As long as you’re mentally prepared for the challenge, you can do it! The hunger isn’t even that bad. It’s more of filling the time during the habit of eating.
I absolutely felt better after the cleanse. From there, I immediately started the Autoimmune Protocol Elimination Diet. While I’m no longer on it (because I’m weak-willed, remember?), I did keep a food log for a few weeks afterward and tracked how my dietary changes made me feel. I would recommend a food log to anyone with a chronic illness. I look forward to learning more about gut health through Dr. Ruscio‘s blog!
Haven’t you done a three-day fast? What were your results? Tell me below in the comments!
Allie Schmidt is a rare disease advocate and disabled mom living with motor neuron disease. She founded Disability Dame in 2020 to provide tips to other moms living with disabilities and chronic illnesses.
In her spare time, you can find her traveling with her husband (she's been to 38 states and 16 countries!), watching reruns of Survivor, or tending to her near-constant sunburn from spending too much time outside. You can follow her adventures here.