To decide on the best fasting method, you need to know what you’ll be doing while you fast. If you want to fast for a long time, and if you need to keep your mind sharp and your body energetic, the best fasting method is juice fasting. Read about the details of juice fasting here.
If you want a more extreme form of fasting, and if you don’t need to be alert or energetic — if you can relax and not work while you fast — and if you want to reap the most benefits from fasting in the shortest possible time, the best fasting method is water-only fasting.
Either fasting method will make you healthier, help you lose weight, and can help you change the way you eat afterwards. But the answer to the question, “What is the best fasting method?” should take into account more than just what you drink while fasting. The best fasting method should include these seven guidelines:
1. Begin by fasting for only one day. You may have some apprehension about fasting, and worrying can make fasting more unpleasant than it needs to be. So give yourself a chance to discover how safe and relatively easy fasting is by going only one day the first time.
The easiest one-day fasting method is to eat breakfast, and then don’t eat anything else until breakfast the next day.
The next easiest is to eat dinner as you normally would, and then don’t eat the next day at all, going to bed without eating, and then resume eating the following day with breakfast. The best fasting method is to take fasting one step at a time in this gradual way, starting with a one day fast.
Then try fasting for two days. Do that a few times before trying three days. Give yourself a week or more of normal eating between fasts.
2. Try juice fasting before you try water-only fasting. Juice fasting is easier. Water-only fasting can be more uncomfortable. If fasting is unfamiliar to you, beginning gradually is especially important. Neither fasting method is the best for everything, but you can get your toes wet by beginning with the easiest method first.
3. Fast on days off. You may occasionally feel sluggish and foggy-minded while fasting, especially with water-only fasting, so don’t put extra pressure on yourself by trying to fast when you need to be energetic or mentally sharp. The best fasting method is to make your fast a spa day — a day of relaxation. In the short run it might seem to be a good idea to burn as many calories as possible while you’re fasting, but if you do it that way, your chances of feeling lousy are higher, so in the long run, it would probably discourage you from trying it again. Be sensible. Be safe.
4. Drink plenty of water. Your body normally retains water, unless you eat a very low-carb diet. When you fast, your body releases some of that water. The process of burning fat without sugar (known as ketosis) uses extra water, so you will get thirsty.
You should drink more water while fasting than you usually do because not only are you using more water, but most foods are partly or mostly water, so you routinely take in more water than you think you do. The best fasting method will always include drinking plenty of water.
5. Eat healthy food for at least a week before you start (if you don’t normally). While fasting, you will not get any nutrition (on a water-only fast) or very little nutrition (on a juice fast), so if you’re already deficient in a nutrient, you’ll become even more deficient during the fast. Starting your fast without deficiencies is a key component of a good fasting method.
6. Eat healthy afterwards. Fasting is a great way to help you improve your diet. You can start a new, healthier way of eating fairly easily and painlessly after a fast, because eating healthier won’t feel like a deprivation. Even a simple piece of fruit tastes like a luxurious indulgence after a fast. The best fasting method uses this to your advantage.
A fast will do you more good if you discontinue healthy eating habits after the fast. Try to improve your diet, if only a little, after every fast.
7. Get up slowly. During a fast, you’ll have a tendency to feel lightheaded when you stand up after sitting or lying down. Your blood pressure is lower than normal because you’re not retaining water (so the volume of your blood is lower). You can actually pass out if you get up too suddenly, so be careful.
The best fasting method is to fast safely. If you feel you’re going to pass out, sit back down. If you still feel like you’re going to pass out, lie down on the ground and raise your feet up about six inches to keep the blood from leaving your head.
To avoid feeling lightheaded during a fast, stand up slowly.
Fasting is a great way to lose weight and improve your health (read more about that here). Follow the seven guidelines above to do it safely and intelligently.
Read a personal account of my longest fast yet: Fasting, Metabolism, and Happiness.
I've read a lot of books on fasting. I didn't think many of them were very good. But I found two I really liked, and I recommend them if you're interested in trying a fast:
Adam Khan is the author of Principles For Personal Growth, Slotralogy, Antivirus For Your Mind, and co-author with Klassy Evans of How to Change the Way You Look at Things (in Plain English). Follow his podcast, The Adam Bomb.