August 1, 2023
Today’s article is by special guest Lauren Berlingeri, one of the cofounders (along with Katie Kaps) behind the company HigherDOSE. These two female biohackers and friends created HigherDOSE with an aspiration to construct tools that reignite vitality from within, contributing to what they term a “Feel Good Movement.”
In a world where traditional self-care is being constantly redefined, Lauren and Katie's vision is to extend an invitation to more people into the intriguing world of biohacking and reimagine these wellness tools for all types of bodies. With their philosophy deeply rooted in the healing power of nature, they ingeniously adapt their modalities to fit into busy, overstressed schedules.
Their products, which include an Infrared Sauna Blanket and PEMF Mat (both of which I use and endorse) are designed to naturally stoke a healthy dose of your brain’s feel-good chemicals – dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins (hence the name their company: HigherDOSE).
Lauren has written two other guest articles, both of which were wildly popular with my female audience, but also got plenty of males thinking and reading:
- A Female Biohacking Expert’s Advice For Women’s Health, Fitness, Hormones & Beauty, Plus The 3 Top Biohacks For Women.
- 8 Simple Ways Mothers Can Find More Balance With Parenting, Careers, & Health.
And both Lauren and Katie have appeared before on the podcast on this episode about biohacking and how they founded their company. During that show, they told me about HigherDOSE's latest product that was about to be released – their innovative Red Light Face Mask – and I asked them to send it to me to try. Since then, the mask has been a regular part of my daily anti-aging skin care routine (if you're intrigued, Lauren has offered 15% off all HigherDOSE products with code BEN).
Lauren is no newcomer to the health and wellness space. She's a celebrated nutritionist, health coach, and you might know her from the hit viral series Woman vs. Workout. It was through her personal journey that Lauren uncovered the magic of infrared saunas, which she used to uplift her mood and recover from her intense fitness challenges.
Today Lauren is here to give you an inside look at a different topic: fasting, or more specifically, multiple day water fasting.
I myself am a major proponent of fasting (read more here), including daily intermittent fasting, monthly 24 hour fasting and one or two multiple day fasts per year to optimize hormones, clear senescent cells, and even as a spiritual reset. I think it’s no coincidence that fasting is mentioned prolifically throughout the Bible to be paired with prayer, and is a major practice in most if not all religions.
In this article, Lauren describes her experience with a 72-hour water fast. She goes in-depth on important details for women who are interested in fasting, including when to time your fast based on your cycle and what preparations to make before a multiple-day fast. And while this article is geared towards women, much of what is presented is also applicable to men – in the comments below, feel free to ask me any questions about how you can adapt Lauren's protocol if you're a man.
Armed with this information, you’ll be able to make your own foray into the world of fasting armed with the knowledge and tools to get the most out of the experience. Without further adieu, here’s Lauren Berlingeri.
What Women Need To Know Before They Try A Water Fast
I’m Lauren Berlingeri, co-founder of HigherDOSE. I recently embarked on a three-day water fast with my co-founder Katie Kaps.
We were guided by Dr. Mindy Pelz, one of today’s leading fasting experts, who takes special care in guiding women through this powerful health reset.
We captured the three-day experience for an episode of BIOHACK-HERS, HigherDOSE’s web series exploring ancient wellness wisdom and today’s hottest health hacks – through the lens of a woman’s unique biology. I will admit: I was nervous about the intensity of this particular challenge and what I was asking of my body.
These days, I do my best to avoid cortisol-spiking activities or anything that involves restriction, over-exertion, or unrealistic expectations of rapid transformation. My early career modeling meant I pushed my body through dangerous crash diets and extreme exercise regimens. And I saw the toll it took on my body, mind, and spirit.
As I moved into the biohacking space and began to interface with some of the leading health experts, I became obsessed with understanding the alternatives to cortisol-focused regimens – looking instead for rituals and routines that detox, reset, and deeply nourish my body, mind, and spirit.
So, what about water fasting? Is this controversial, but increasingly popular biohack safe for women to try? What do we need to know before, during, and after a fast? And just how powerful are the benefits?
Water fasting can be a transformative experience for women, providing physical, mental, and spiritual benefits. By following the advice and insights shared in this blog post, you can make an informed decision about whether a water fast is right for you.
Remember, it is crucial to prioritize your health, consider your individual circumstances, and approach fasting with mindfulness and self-care. I particularly urge caution around a water fast if you have historically struggled with disordered eating in any way. Please always consult a medical professional if you have questions before getting started.
What is a “Water Fast”?
A water fast involves abstaining from any food for 72 hours, to allow your cells to experience autophagy: a process of cellular self-cleansing and renewal.
While this practice remains controversial, it has been gaining popularity in recent years.
Water fasting has several well-known, science-backed benefits, including weight loss, improved insulin sensitivity, reduced inflammation, increased human growth hormone levels, enhanced gut health, and improved mental clarity. The process of autophagy triggered by water fasting allows your body to repair and regenerate, providing a unique opportunity for self-healing.
One significant benefit of water fasting is the increase in your body's own ability to create ketones: organic compounds produced by the liver when the body breaks down fats for energy when the body needs an alternative fuel source. During a water fast, you force your body to tap into its fat stores and produce ketones for energy. These ketones have been shown to provide numerous health benefits, such as improved brain function, increased energy levels, and reduced oxidative stress.
Dr. Pelz emphasizes the importance of aligning your mind and heart with this practice. Your body will soak up serious benefits from these three days, but your mind will try to convince you that you are in danger. Before you begin, it is crucial to address the mental hurdles that may arise.
My Three-Day Transformation: Mind, Body, Spirit
During my water fast, I experienced a range of benefits that have truly transformed my relationship with food, my body, my decision-making powers, and my overall well-being.
Here are some of the remarkable changes I noticed after the 72 hours:
- Regaining control over food cravings and increased awareness: One of the most powerful outcomes of water fasting is the ability to take control of food cravings and become more conscious of what we put into our bodies. By abstaining from food for 72 hours, I found myself breaking free from the constant pull of cravings and food choices – gaining a renewed sense of empowerment over my dietary choices. This allowed me to make healthier decisions in the days following the fast and develop a deeper understanding of the impact of food on my body.
- Spiritual connection and self-realization: Fasting has long been a practice intertwined with spirituality and religion, and for good reason. As I embarked on this journey, the spiritual transformation was an unexpected, but leading benefit. Fasting provided me with a unique opportunity for self-reflection on my health and relationship with my body, leading to insights and revelations about my own power to make decisions for myself – beyond the chemical signals and cravings my body routinely sends. When you enter a fast in the right headspace, it can be truly a transformative experience that allows you to connect with yourself on a deeper level.
- Improved digestion and awareness of food triggers: Prior to the water fast, I had struggled with digestive issues such as bloating and gas. After the three-day fast, I noticed a significant improvement in my digestion. It was like starting with a clean slate. I became more aware of the foods that were causing these issues when I reintroduced them. By reintroducing each food group separately, I was able to pinpoint specific triggers for my digestive issues. This newfound awareness has been invaluable in helping me make more informed choices about the foods I consume.
- Benefits of human growth hormone and cellular renewal: Water fasting triggers a process called autophagy, which promotes cellular self-cleansing and renewal. During this process, there is an increase in human growth hormone levels, leading to a profound range of benefits. I experienced tangible improvements in my skin quality and gut health. Human growth hormone is a powerful self-healing compound. Activated through a water fast, this is a profound and free biohack that can transform your well-being.
*Studies have suggested that elevated levels of ketones increase human growth hormone production. So, by carefully monitoring and optimizing your ketone levels during a fast, you are amplifying the powerful benefits of an increase in human growth hormone. Keep reading to learn how to track ketones during your fast!
To gain a more comprehensive understanding of my water fasting experience, I highly recommend watching the full episode of BIOHACK-HERS where I share my personal journey and insights. In this episode, Dr. Mindy Pelz, our fasting expert guide, takes us through everything we need to know – mentally, physically, spiritually.
5 Questions Women Should Ask Themselves Before Water Fast
Embarking on a water fast is a serious commitment that requires both physical and mental preparation.
Next, I want to share vital considerations, from the influence of your menstrual cycle to personal motivations and tools for tracking health markers. By answering these questions for yourself, you'll be more prepared for this wellness journey, enabling you to approach fasting with confidence and mindfulness.
1. What Phase Of My Menstrual Cycle Am I In?
According to Dr. Mindy Pelz, a woman with a regular menstrual cycle (28 days) can fast as she pleases between day one and day twelve. Between days 12 and 14, Dr. Mindy explains, estrogen is at its peak and its best to not fast.
Between days 21 and 28, progesterone production is at its peak. The side effect of fasting in this timeline includes anxiety and shutting down all other hormones in a woman’s body. Shorter fasts (between 13 to 15 hours) can be supported by increasing your carb intake, which will improve the production of progesterone in your body and avoid a shutdown.
But, if you are considering a 72-hour water fast, plan to start your journey during the first twelve days. I personally prefer starting a fast on day one of my cycle.
2. Am I Motivated By Growth, Not Guilt?
Before you commit to a 72-hour fast, ask yourself important questions about your health status, your relationship with weight, and your current life circumstances. Ensure that your decision to fast is not motivated by punishment or guilt but rather by a desire for personal growth and optimization.
3. Am I Mentally Prepared For A Fast?
Preparing your mindset is crucial before embarking on a water fast. In addition to your goals and expectations, make sure you have minimal commitments around longer fasts, allowing time and space for relaxation, self-reflection, and healing.
4. Am I Physically Prepared For A Fast?
If you have never practiced clean eating before or have been consuming excessive amounts of unhealthy foods, it may be beneficial to start with a clean eating regimen before diving into an intense water fast. A fast will lead your body to work hard at expelling toxins, and if your body is not properly prepared, this could lead to an intense, uncomfortable experience.
Before attempting a 72-hour water fast, it is a good idea to begin with shorter fasting periods, such as intermittent fasting (try: 16 hours of fasting, followed by an 8 hour eating window). This allows your body to adapt gradually. Consider your current health status and previous dietary habits.
5. Do I Have The Right Tools & Knowledge?
Prepare yourself with the tools to track important health markers throughout the process. Using a glucose monitor like Ketomojo during the process will help track your ketone levels and determine if you have entered a state of ketosis. Familiarize yourself with the device before the fast to ensure accurate readings.
Ready to go? For your last meal, I recommend opting for a hearty, but easily digestible option. Think: soup (without bread) to provide nourishment without burdening your digestive system. I recommend bone broth with vegetables. (Ben's favorite bone broth is from Kettle & Fire, and you can get 20% off with code greenfield.)
What to Expect on All 3 Days of a 72-Hour Fast
A 72-hour water fast generally unfolds over three distinct phases, each with its own challenges and rewards.
As you fast, expect to navigate through physical and mental shifts.
Initial apprehension and lowered energy may give way to deeper resilience as your body begins to adjust and cleanse. Midway, mental challenges could arise, yet they often lead to tranquility and an emerging sense of clarity.
Day 1: You may experience a lack of motivation and energy on the first day. It's common to feel apprehensive about the length of time you still have to go. Some individuals may feel sick or struggle to ground themselves on day one. There is nothing wrong with this reaction! It is simply a sign that the gut is repairing itself, eliminating old bacteria and making room for a healthier microbiome. In other words, the fast is working.
Day 2: The second day can feel mentally challenging, and thoughts of self-doubt or resistance are common. However, it is a turning point where anxiety subsides, and you enter a state of calmness. Monitor your fasting glucose levels, aiming for a range of 70 to 90. Achieving optimal ketone levels is crucial during a water fast, as ketones serve as an alternative fuel source, providing mental sharpness, energy, and hunger suppression. Keto Mojo advises that: “Those who are fasting [aim for] levels in the 3.0mmol/L – 8.0 mmol/L range.”
Day 3: Expect to feel peaceful, with noticeable progress markers such as mental clarity and optimism. However, you may also feel physically weak. Don’t overexert yourself. Opt for activities that draw you inwards, like yoga, breathwork, meditation, or visualizing At the 72-hour mark, old white blood cells are sloughed off, replaced by new ones. Senescent cells disappear, and new stem cells enter the body, promoting repair and rejuvenation.
How To Break A Water Fast
After the initial bone broth, ease back into eating easily digestible foods. For example, coconut yogurt and blueberries provide healthy gut culture, antioxidants, and gentle digestion.
When resuming exercise, listen to your body and start with activities that feel comfortable. After a three-day water fast, you may feel stronger than ever, but it's essential to respect your body's cues and gradually increase intensity. You’ve just given your mind, body, and soul an incredible gift of transformation – it’s vital to honor the process from the very beginning to the very end.
You will love how you feel post-fast, but I personally recommend that you do not do a 72-hour water fast more than once a year. The tools and tips above will take the stress off your body during your three days, but there aren’t enough studies on fasting in humans (yet!) to be confident that this is a safe, regular practice. Find a good period of time to soak up the full benefits of the fast, and then focus on putting your insights and reflections into practice in the coming months.
Good luck on your fasting journey! I hope you experience greater ease, greater clarity, improved digestion, and a whole-person reset – just like I did.
Fasting is a powerful but sometimes controversial topic. After all, who’s really comfortable choosing not to eat for not just hours, but days?
Yet fasting is hardly new. Multi-day fasting is a component of most if not all religious texts, and has been used for millennia as a health and spiritual tool.
Although fasting is sometimes poo-pooed especially for women, this practice is a powerful way to improve your health, and thanks to Lauren’s wonderful guest piece you just read, now you have a firsthand account of exactly how to perform a multi-day water fast no matter who you are.
Here’s a recap of the major points from Lauren’s article:
- Water fasting involves abstaining from all but water for over 12 hours.
- Autophagy benefits of fasting kick in and increase after 24 hours.
- Water fasting can have deep and powerful benefits, but can also stress the body and requires thorough preparation.
- Women do best to fast during the first 12 days of their cycle. Fasting during other parts of your cycle could result in unwanted side effects.
- Go into fasting with a growth mindset, be mentally and physically prepared for the fast, and know what to expect on each given day of your fast.
- Break your fast with an easily digestible food like bone broth or soup, and ease yourself back into eating regularly.
- Listen to your body, and don’t do a 72-hour fast more than once a year.
There you have it: everything you need to know in order to prepare for and accomplish a 72-water fast. Keep in mind that although Lauren wrote this article geared toward women, most of the information does apply to men. If you're a man interested in doing a water fast, it's a good idea to run your plan by your doctor and you can also ask me questions below. Also, please be sure to check out Lauren’s other work over at HigherDOSE and the episode about her fast on Biohack-HERS. Finally, if you're interested in any of HigherDOSE's innovative products, don't forget that Lauren and Katie have generously offered a 15% discount with code BEN.
And remember – I love hearing from you! Leave a comment about your experiences with water fasting, or any questions you may have about how to start. Lauren and I look forward to reading every single one of them.