[You can follow me on Twitter @creatorvilla.] FYI, I updated the introduction to this article on 10/1/2021, to reflect my most current perspective on fasting, in general, and dry fasting in particular. In a previous post on fasting, I discuss why I started fasting to heal my mind and body. I have completed a number of 3-day dry fasts over the course of a few years. For people not clued in, a singular 3-day dry fast consists of 72 hours without eating or drinking. A “hard” dry fast involves avoiding all exposure to water, including showering and washing, in addition to not eating or drinking. During a “soft” dry fast, exposure to water is allowed. My dry fasts were of the “hard” variety with the exception of a few morning face washes. In this article, I want to describe what happened during and after these intense experiences. My observations are drawn from the ten different occasions I subjected myself to the discipline. They are generalizations that have held up consistently in each of my individual fasting episodes. I have broken down this post into two sections, one consisting of seven fascinating observations during the fast, and the other consisting of seven fascinating observations in the days that followed.
NOTE! I used to think that you had to completely abstain from all consumption to experience the benefits of fasting, hence why I undertook so many dry fasts to begin with. That belief, I later learned, simply did not square with the data (e.g. check out THIS study on the myriad health benefits of alternate-day calorie restriction, and other studies utilizing different protocols that fall short of complete abstinence). I have found that for me drinking some water (and monitoring electrolyte balance as needed) is typically the wisest, safest, and most effective course of action for a multi-day fast. And, to my initial surprise, I also found that water fasting and calorie restriction produced many of the same experiences and benefits in me as the ones you will read about in this article..
Today, I do not plan on doing another 3-day dry fast again. On the other hand, I practice some form of alternate-day calorie restriction, or water fasting, on a quasi-routine basis. Sometimes I will limit consumption for a day, or for a few days, during which time I monitor electrolytes to avoid unwanted symptoms/complications. I always follow up a period of calorie restriction with adequate nutrition and rest, in order to lock in all the benefits. Most of the benefits of this new protocol, as I alluded to above, are similar, if not identical, to what you will read about in this article.. Whereas I used to only do longer dry fasts on occasion, I can reap the benefits of my newer protocol on a more regular basis.. I’ve written up an informative blog detailing my new protocol, Why I Adopted An Alternate-Day, Calorie-Restricted Diet, which I highly encourage you to check out.
Now, without further ado!
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, and I do not give medical advice. Fasting for 72 hours, especially without proper hydration, can be dangerous, lead to electrolyte imbalances, and other health complications. Make sure you consult your doctor before undergoing any fasting regime, especially one lasting multiple days and without proper hydration.
7 Observations During the Fast:
1. I felt physically weak
This observation is perhaps the least surprising of all. I had adapted to dry fasts of 24 hours or less so I wouldn’t feel generalized bodily weakness until around the one-day mark. On day 2, my energy would decline drastically, at which point I would limit physical activity to lying, sitting, and walking. On day 3, I would feel extremely weak most of the time and would alternate between lying down and sitting up, mixing in the occasional short walk. Like others who have experience fasting, I got the sense that the time I spent sitting, standing, and walking was more emotionally and physically productive. It may be no coincidence that this time was also much more challenging than the time I spent lying down.
2. I dropped weight rapidly
Despite never weighing myself consistently, I recall once having dropped several pounds within the first 48 hours. On day one of the fast, I typically weighed about 170 pounds, and I estimate dropping on average anywhere from 6-12 pounds over the course of three days. Much of this weight was water weight that I gained back within a few days of hydration. I had also been hitting the gym consistently during the last few years and was sensitive to potential muscle loss. While I did lose some muscle mass and strength, along with fat, I noticed that my physique was more chiseled. Any muscle I did lose during the three days I always seemed to gain back within a few weeks of training (see observation #6 of section two below).
3. I experienced emotional instability
Eating food is an emotionally satisfying experience, even for those who are not overweight. During my 72-hour dry fasts, I would experience spells of irritability, sadness, and anger. Any emotional junk that the ordinary comforts of life could sweep under the surface would come out plainly into the open. This gave me the opportunity to process and heal. In fact, I can say confidently that emotional catharsis is one of the greatest benefits of fasting.
4. I barely needed any sleep.
On day one of the fast, my sleep needs were more or less the same, at around 8 hours for peak performance. On days 2 and 3, however, something strange always happened. I would go to sleep at night and wake up 2-3 hours later with no apparent physical need or capacity to go back to sleep. It makes sense that when we do not consume our body has much less to process and needs very little time to reboot for the next day. There is also a biological incentive to get out there and find food. On days 2 and 3, I would sometimes find myself wanting to go back to sleep merely to pass time. Occasionally, I could sneak in a half-hour nap during the day, but I felt that my body didn’t really need the sleep. What it wanted was the comfort of my bed and the oblivion of being unconscious to distract from the displeasure of the fast.
5. I saw the world with fresh eyes
Longer fasts bring about a dramatic shift in focus. When I’m not fasting, my mind is flooded with the trivial concerns of my immediate reality. I develop tunnel vision. My 3-day dry fasts gave me the opportunity to take a step back and look at the bigger picture of life. They helped me to realize both how fragile I am as a human being and how strong the human spirit is in the face of adversity. They helped me to see clearly the illusory role fear and anger were playing in my life. After all, they were constructs of my own mind and would come and go like waves. Somehow, fasting had a way of clarifying for me what truly mattered in life.
6. My past became my present
My 3-day dry fasts had a fascinating way of bringing to the surface painful past memories that had long escaped my conscious attention. Painful thoughts from the past would often arise with no immediate trigger. Sometimes these thoughts pertained to the immediate past–things that had taken place in the days and weeks that preceded the fast. Other times they involved people and places that I had long forgotten about, even those from childhood. As I write about in the next section, I would often have very vivid dreams about my past in the days after I broke my fast. The truth is we all carry an emotional backlog from out past. I interpret the unpleasant memories that often come to light during my fasts as unresolved issues that my mind us attempting to heal. I believe it is this emotional healing that brings about positive change, not only in the mind but in the body.
7. I saw love as supreme
Building on point five above, 72-hour dry fasts gave me fresh perspective on life. On days 2 and 3 of the fast I remember feeling the strong conviction that love was the most important thing of all. This is a statement I always affirmed on an intellectual level, but the fast strengthened my emotional conviction of its truth. Maybe as the fast dragged on it was the realization that human beings are never more than a few days away from dying. Maybe it was my newfound appreciation for all of the good food and drink I had enjoyed throughout my life. Or maybe it was the insight that love, in simple terms, was the end goal of every decision I had ever made in my entire life.
7 Observations After the Fast:
1. Food tasted better
To this day, I can still taste the cold coconut water and mango juice that I made a habit of drinking to break my 72-hour dry fasts. But the joy didn’t stop there. Food for several days after the fast tasted especially good. In fact, one of my favorite things to do on day 3 of the fast was to go to Kroger and pick out my favorite foods to be consumed in the following days. Pro tip: There is something to be said about avoiding temptation. I wouldn’t do this if I doubted my ability to follow through.
2. My body healed
As I mention in the post I link to in the introduction of this article, fasting helped cure me of debilitating chronic illness. Through fasting and other healthy lifestyle changes I was completely healed of all back and neck pain that had plagued my existence for years. There were times I doubted I would ever live a normal life with a healthy body, but God had other plans.
3. I dreamt about the past
In the days following my 72-hour dry fasts, I noticed a strange pattern. I would dream about people and places from my past. This seemed to be a continuation of point #6 above–my body’s attempt to process unresolved issues from the past. Doctor James Alexander penned one of my favorite books of all time, The Hidden Psychology of Pain: The Use of Understanding to Heal Chronic Pain. In chapter 11, entitled “The Healing Power of Dreams,” he discusses the power of dreams to heal both the mind and the body. While the conscious mind sleeps, the unconscious mind is busy at working attempting to serve our interests. Due to my experience with dreams and fasting over the years, I could not agree more with his assessment.
4. I became more in-touch with my emotions
While this sounds like a soft admission, I believe there are few traits healthier than emotional intelligence and emotional sensitivity. Someone who is in-touch with their emotions is better able to deal with them and live a happy life than someone who has mastered the art of repression. My 72-hour dry fasts involved encounters with the past and gave me insights that have helped me to better manage my emotions moving forward.
5. I felt a surge in positive energy
I felt like a champion every single time I drank the coconut water or mango juice signaling the end of my 72-hour dry fast. I had accomplished what few people would dare attempt. But more importantly, I had experienced physical and emotional healing on a deep level. Prior to that point, I had been let down time and again in my pursuit of healing, but fasting renewed my faith that healing was indeed available to those who were willing to exercise discipline.
6. I made better gains in the gym
One of my biggest concerns over fasting for so long was muscle loss. I had worked hard in the gym for months and wasn’t going to cheaply let it go to waste. What I realized from experience is that relatively little muscle is lost in the process of dry fasting. I did lose some muscle, but I lost a lot more fat, and the muscle I did lose I always gained within a few weeks of hitting the gym again. Long dry fasts immediately gave me a more chiseled appearance. Greater energy and quicker recovery time for weeks afterwards were follow. Note: I would NEVER lift heavy for a few days after breaking my dry fast as my energy levels recovered and my bodily functions normalizeed.
7. My relationship with God grew
From my background in church, I knew that fasting had a special ability to drive spiritual growth. Moses was said to have fasted in the wilderness for 40 days. Esther and all of Israel are recorded as having completed a 3-day dry fast, ironically, to avoid annihilation. Daniel was known for his vegetable diet, from which the term “Daniel fast” comes from. Let alone Jesus who matched Moses’s feat. During and after the fast, I was better able to get out of my own way. Some of the questions and doubts I had been carrying seemed to fade. And a semblance of clarity was restored.
Fasting is the quickest (and can be one of the most intense) healing modalities I am aware exists. But it is not a panacea. Old habits die hard. In the weeks following my fasts, I often found myself falling back into old habits and unhealthy ways of being. Overall, fasting is an incredibly powerful tool for creating change when combined with an overall commitment to being the best version of oneself.
If you enjoyed this post, check out
[…] on fasting, I elaborate what happened when I went on a three-day dry fast. The post contains fourteen fascinating observations drawn from the eight 3-day fasts that I completed in the last few […]
Firstly, you reminded me of Ramadan and its spirituality. Secondly, your writing style and how you convey your emotions is phenomenal! Waiting for more posts regarding fasting.
Thanks for the feedback. I’m going to do a long fast pretty soon. I’ll keep an hourly log for more context.
sir I am impressed with your article! I wonder if 3 day dry fast will heal fatty liver
Thank you for the positive feedback. I took a long break from social media myself. Be smart about it but be bold. There is grace to heal
Thanks so much for the post! I dry fast every Saturday for 24hrs in Sunday to get closer to GOD and deny the flesh. Thinking of doing a 3day fast very soon and this article gave me alot of insight on what to expect. Thank you very much and GOD Bless!
Glad to hear you got something out of it.
Thank you for this. It’s going to help with understanding dry fasting.
Glad you found it helpful. FYI, I am planning to publish another post on fasting the second week of January.
I have just completed my 2nd 72 hour dry fast. Most of your experiences l can relate to. I had dreams about people in my past and it was shocking to see that you also had the same experience. My weakness and slight dizziness were mostly on day 2 but l think because l naturally have low blood pressure. I bathed the 2nd and 3rd day and what l realized is that after a bath l felt so refreshed and all my hunger went away and so my conclusion is that somehow through my pores my body tapped into my shower water. It’s mind-blowing.
Hi Brenda. We are a lot more alike then we think. In my post that goes live January 10, I document a 3-day dry fast with great detail. I think you will find it fascinating
[…] fast during the year and figured what better way to usher in the new year. While I’ve recorded observations of my 3-day dry fasts in the past, this was the first time I kept an hourly log of the experience. I also journaled a few […]
[…] like myself who have experienced mind-body healing from fasting. I have written extensively about my experiences with dry fasting and my nearly-two years practicing intermittent […]
I have so many fasts but it has not healed me of anything.
Nor has it improved my relationship with god.
I feel more astrayed than ever from him or her.
The Bible came as a last resort along with fasting
and for me it never healed me of anything.
Now I live in total disappointment of god
and doubt god even exists now.
I’m sorry to hear your experience with fasting has not been positive. What kind of fasts did you do? In my experience, the mentality I enter a fast with has a big influence on the results.
God loves you and he is with you at times. When you feel like his afar that means his even near than you thought. He just needs you get closer to him ,humble yourself and sick him with all your heart and soul and you will find him. Read ISAIAH 58 the whole chapter. I will be praying for you that God reveals himself in the most personal way possible to you.
Thank you for sharing your dry fasting experience.
Your writing, my, it’s SO POWERFUL: my body, soul & spirit, my whole being was engaged into reading you. Thank you.
How did you prepare for your dry fasting? Does one need to use laxative before & after the fasting to evacuate what’s in the stomach?
The LORD bless you mightily in His Purpose for your life.
Thank you for giving this detailed account of your experiences. I myself have just completed my first 72 hour dry fast. I still showered though. However, I can relate to most of your experiences during the fast. On my last day of the fast, I couldn’t sleep beyond 2 hours, and also my dreams were more vivid. Most importantly though, I used to have pain in my knee and that seems to have gone.
I have previously done water fasts, but I have found the dry fast to be more powerful. What I used to experience about the 10th of my water fast, I experienced only on the third day of the water fast.
I am grateful that God has given us fasting as a tool to get closer to him and to bring healing to our bodies and minds.
And thank you for writing this article. I have learned a lot from it. There is not much content of dry fasting on the internet.
Thanks for the feedback! There is a grace for those who are willing to suffer. It is counterintuitive—but I am grateful this tool is available
Really good read mate, very interesting and inspiring. On about 40 hours here so far. The bit about sleeping it off to avoid feelings made me laugh lol. Just about to read your hourly post, good luck and God bless
Where is it written that moses fasted for 40 days?
The bible says he was on the mount talking with God as the 10 commandments were written.
Glad you have spiritual insight from God during fasting because I never did and I read the bible everyday including the psalms during fasting.
I’m currently on 46 hour no food or water and its January 16, 2021.
Exodus 34:28. Good luck to you!
[…] My Powerful 3-Day Dry Fasts (14 Observations) […]
I’m on day 2 of my 3days water fast, mhen i feel sick, terrible 😭😭and honestly cant wait for the end of the fast. I’m hoping i feel better tomoro being the last day. I cant even imagine going on 3 days dry fast. Drinking water and having my bath refreshes me abit and keeps me going.
Powerful testimonies shared by you all here.
I pray that you’re all granted the grace to experience God in a special way as you seperate yourself just to spend special time with the Maker… Indeed most of the things shared by Ben are commonly felt by many during the 72 hours dry fasting but remember that everyone’s experiment with God is all different and indeed we all have different bodies that don’t respond to changes the same.. However I pray that God grants you all the desire of your hearts as you spare your time and give it all to him…. Personally I don’t remember fasting for 72 hours straight and come out of it the same.. I always experience changes in every area of my life and I have enjoyed every moment of it. I look forward to more of these times with God
God bless you all 🙏
Excellent article to inspire me as I embark on a 5 day dry fast. Thank you for this. Much love.
Thank you for your comment. You got this.
I really appreciate your work in putting this together for us, I’ve been wanting to learn how a three days dry fast works and fortunately i am favoured with this article. May the Almighty God help us in the journey, in Jesus name. Amen!
It’s an intense experience that probably only few will ever undertake. But there are great benefits to shorter fasting, as well. I wonder if I will ever do another one again, yet I said this in the past also before doing it again
To be honest, I feel as though I have been giving my flesh too much time lately and there are some habits I want to overcome because they put a huge weight on my spiritual life. Being in a state of depression and seeing my relationship with God go downhill is my biggest problem. God has been fulfilling his part of the relationship and I have been ignorant to mine. Thank you so much for the tips and sharing your experience. It really helped me understand the process of fasting. Waiting to see more of your posts.
Hey Bro. Thanks for reaching out. You can check out http://www.WalkInIntegrity.com for new posts on spiritual themes. Fasting I will say is a great way to “take out the trash” of our souls. It’s a grind, but it’s always worth it when done correctly. Also, don’t think you have to do several days to get benefits. Whereas the benefits of fasting are for everyone, 3-dry fasts are not! Unless I feel led to do one again, I won’t be attempting one again, certainly not anytime soon.
However, I plan to do some form of fasting in the form of calorie restriction + healthy eating the rest of my life. Lately, I’ve been doing calorie restriction, where I’ll eat between 400-800 calories on a given day (drink as much water as I want), and eat normal the next day. It’s been really beneficial, and the benefits are the same as doing a longer fast; the process is just not quite as fast or intense.
There is hope, bro. God created a lot of ways for us to get out of hard times. Many of them require effort and cooperation on our part, but that’s not an issue for people like you and me. As far as fasting goes, Isaiah 58:6 is a big inspiration.
I plan to write about calorie restriction at a later date, but I want to do it for a while first. I typically wait at least a year before writing an article, but I have definitely learned a ton already in the last few months
[…] a handful of blogs outlining my experiences with intermittent fasting (here), and multi-day fasts (here), both with and without drinking water.. My longer fasts were the most therapeutic, but they would […]