As you probably know by now l have always been an avid spokesperson against water fasting, partly because of what happens with the freeing of the highly toxic, free-radical metabolites after 36h of fasting (read here) but mainly because of the shift in electrolytes that happens when you water fast more than 24h.
Let me just make it clear: l have no problem with people doing OMAD (One Meal A Day) every day for the rest of their lives!
Simply because if you eat every day (once every 24h) you are in my opinion not fasting.
You eat every day, thats not fasting!
That is called skipping meals, Intermittent Fasting or IF – l have no problem with that!
Off you go!
My aversion has been towards Extended Fasting or EF because there you go longer than 24h without any nourishments and that is when the biochemical problems starts!
And yes, l know l have been juice fasting for 2 months right after the accident but again; having juice every day is not fasting no matter how much we want to call it that!
You are just not chewing!
But since you get your vitamins and minerals in every single juice you drink, every single day, there is no problem at all!
Off you go!
My problem is when you ONLY drink water for longer than 24h because then you start a shift in your electrolyte balance.
So come on friends, lets put on the nerd hat and dive into electrolytes, diffusion and osmosis.
– Or you can just skip to the recipe at the bottom of the page and completely miss out on understanding WHY water fasting is so good for you but also WHY you need to add salts to your water and WHY it needs to be these exact salts!
First of all; from now on l am using the chemical terms for potassium and sodium simply to avoid any misunderstanding!
Sodium is called natrium and in the period table its called Na+
Potassium is called kalium and in the periodic table its called K+.
Let´s start with natrium.
We have been told for ages not to eat too much salt in our diet and now l am telling you to add salt, even drink it, while water fasting why is that?
Well it actually has to do with your insulin.
When you have been fasting for 12h your insulin level is getting low and your liver starts to use glycogen partly as an energy source but also to balance the blood sugar
At that point your insulin level is very low.
This is when the cells are forced to snap out of the insulin resistance (that causes Syndrom X and leads to T2 diabetes).
That is why studies show that intermittent fasting for a minimum of 12h a day will make your cells insulin sensitive again and help you cure a T2.
As l said above, so far all is good because with a 12h-23h fast you will eat at some point.
However, when you continue past the 24h mark it starts to get critical.
You see, insulin also affects how the renals are handling the natrium.
In fact when your insulin levels drop, your body starts to shed natrium.
This is why high insulin levels (as we see in patients with diabetes) very often goes hand in hand with a high blood pressure and why the blood pressure lowers when you fast.*
Said in another way, when you water fast you are flushing your natrium out the body.
And for every glass of water you drink: you flush it out even quicker!
So why does that matter?
Well, we have a very delicate salt balance in our body called osmosis.
It has to do with diffusion of natrium and kalium over the cell membrane, from the extracellular fluid (outside the cell) and the intracellular fluid (inside the cell).
There are much more natrium outside the cell than inside the cell and there is much more kalium inside the cell than outside the cell.
I see osmosis or exchange of the natrium and kalium over the cell membrane as a harmonious wave within the body.
Everything in the body works in this harmonious wave, like a pendulum, back and forth, from one to the other.
So when there is too much kalium or natrium inside the cell and too much kalium or natrium outside the cell an exchange happens.
And this wave, this flowing back and forth is a super delicate system that keeps the body in balance.
You are only in balance when there is a constant im-balance.
Are you beginning to see the problem with water fasting?
That super delicate balance gets thrown off when you pass the 24h mark and the drop in insulin gives signal to your renals to start to shed natrium.
The probability that you will drink 6 liters of water in any intermittent fasting shorter than 24h is quite unlikely!
You will be so full of food that furthermore filling yourself up with water most definitely wont occur to you.
– On a longer water fast however, where you dont eat daily, apparently numerous people have done that… and died!
This is why drinking electrolytes when fasting longer than 24h is crucial.
And why l went from being avid against water fasting to actually recommending it!
The effect on weight loss was amazing but l actually didn’t feel that much a difference regarding my brain recovery.
So when a study came in 2018 showing the effect on water fasting longer than 24h and the effect water fasts had on brain recovery, l just knew that l had to get over myself, put my aversion to the side, roll up the sleeves and find out how l could water fast with the proper electrolytes so l could get the benefits of the extended fasting and not cause any harm to my delicate salt balance.
And the research took me far and wide!
The regurgitating internet-gurus
By now there are so many “internet gurus” that has their own magic formular.
Of these gurus l would like to mention Dr. Jason Fung and l can warmly recommend his books, blogs and videos.
However – we do disagree on some points and yes l know its nerdy but l find it highly important!
Its about what type of natrium, potassium and magnesium you should drink!
Unfortunately in this information age there seems to be a trend where one person goes out and say something ei. “use pink Himalaya salt as your natrium source” and suddenly every single internet-guru turns into a parrot and is regurgitating the same.
The problem with that is that once you hear something repeated over and over it suddenly is perceived as a truth.
– pink Himalaya salt is not the most optimal natrium source, neither is potassium citrate the most optimal potassium source and magnesium sulphate is not the best magnesium source!
The 3 above mentioned sources is the combination that is not founded on biochemistry or physiology but simply just regurgitated as a truth and while you might have weight-loss results with those mineral sources you are most definitely not going to be on top of your game simply because its not the type of electrolytes your cell needs!
And if you are not only water fasting to fit into a specific size of jeans but maybe, as l, truly want to cure a chronic condition you really need to use the proper cell salts.
I found that out the hard way!
I bought an electrolyte mix and felt horrible.
Due to my Addisons my kalium and natrium levels are off wack anyway so l am super sensitive to any change and only a few hours past the 24h mark l felt how the electrolyte mix l had bought most definitely did not support my balance.
So first l turned to the internet-gurus both the ones l respect and the ones that l dont.
And the common denominator was as l said; one has started to recommend something and the others just follow suit.
So l had to freshen up on my biochemistry 101 and create my own recipe based on what the body actually needs and l will share that with you now.
l am calling my mix for “The Cell-Drink” simply because everyone calls whatever type of magnesium, natrium and potassium they mix together for “electrolytes” and if l do that too, it will just be immensely confusing!
I was thinking of calling it for “The Osmotic Mix” but the majority of the population has no idea what osmotic means whereas everyone knows what a cell is!
So, friends, the The Cell-Drink is what we use for Osmotic Water Fasting, ok?
This is what you need for The Cell-Drink:
Natrium – preferably Maldon salt or celtic salt if you like the taste and texture better
Magnesium Citrate or Bisglycinate
Why Maldon salt?
Because its pure!
Real pink Himalayan salt is from Pakistan and quite expensive.
The majority of the “pink Himalayan salt” you can buy today is ordinary sea salt that has been coloured pink.
You can find out if you have the original one or the fake one by adding it to your bathtub.
If you are left with a pink debris when you let the water out, you have the fake one.
Which is great in a bathtub but not to ingest.
There is no such nonsense with the English Maldon salt.
It is pure, flaky and taste great!
Celtic salt is from France.
It is moist and gray.
The mineral content in Celtic salt is higher than in Maldon salt but since we want the natrium and not the trace amounts of other minerals its not really important.
Chose only Celtic salt if you prefer the taste over Maldon salt.
I have written Maldon and asked them for a lab analisys of the salt and when l receive it l will upload it here.
You will need 2.000mg of natrium a day that is aprox. 2 teaspoons however in the 1 liter cell-drink l recommend you only add 1/2 – 1 teaspoon so you can have 2l of the drink a day if you need it.
You will crave the drink if you need more, and please add more if you need to!
And you can always dip your finger in some salt throughout the day if you feel you need “something”..
For that l prefer the Vogel herb salt that is immensely tasty when fasting!
Well… everything is!
Why potassium chloride?
Dr. Jason Fung recommends in his book “The Complete Guide To Fasting” that you use potassium citrate.
I think there are several reasons for that.
Mainly, probably, because that is the type of potassium doctors normally recommend to patients.
Dr. Fung is a nephrologist, a kidney doctor, and potassium citrate is used to balance the pH value and support the kidneys in releasing of kidney stones, so my guess is that Dr. Fung are used to using potassium citrate during his many years working with kidney patients and that is why he also recommend it for water fasting.
I also think that is why Dr. Erik Berg recommends it.
He is a chiropractor and probably used to recommend potassium citrate to this patients due to its pH regulating factor on muscles and joints which is his line of expertise.
As a naturopathic doctor however, working with functional medicine, l see potassium citrate being amazing for what l just mentioned: support the kidneys and affect the pH value.
However l dont see potassium citrate being of any use when we focus on the function inside the cell and with the purpose of adding it as an electrolyte.
For that you need potassium chloride.
You get potassium chloride in the health food store as a powder, make sure its pure and a food grade! The brand NOW! has one.
You can also get it at places that sells stuff for home brewing, yep beer!
Again check the lab rapport and see if its made for human consumption.
In Denmark the only place you can get it is here
For the cell-drink you need 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon
If you get any of the symptoms from the green box above you should increase to 1 teaspoon but unless you have low potassium to start with that shouldn’t be necessary.
NOTE: if you compare the Osmotic Water Fast Recipe with other fasting electrolyte recipes you will notice that l suggest MUCH LESS potassium than anyone else does.
The reason is obviously that potassium chloride is much more potent than any other type of potassium and goes straight into your cell.
You can even take 1/8 teaspoon (that is half of a 1/4 teaspoon measuring spoon) and you will be just fine!
Why magnesium citrate or bisglycinate?
Ok, this is one of the big ones!
I have not found anyone that recommends magnesium citrate or bisglycinate!
Everyone recommends magnesium sulphate.
So what is wrong with magnesium sulphate?
Why not use it as an electrolyte?
There must be something about it since everyone recommends it, right?
They dont recommend!
Magnesium sulphate, also called Epsom salt, is commonly ingested for constipation or used in baths and foot baths for relaxation and to promote sleep.
The molecules of magnesium sulphate when they are ingested are so big they cant enter the blood stream but stays in the intestinal tract where they, since its a salt, draw liquid from the tissue into the intestines and therefore has a laxative effect.
Now let me ask you; do we want liquid to leave the body or is the purpose of the electrolytes to keep liquid in the cells?
So it makes no sense to drink magnesium sulphate!
Magnesium chloride has a very low bioavailability, as you can read in one of the studies below, however its transdermal, which means you can use it in your bath or as a footbath.
But because its low bioavailability you have no way of knowing how much you actually are getting!
I have tried once to take a footbath with magnesium chloride and it immediately made me calm, removed all convulsions in my muscles and l felt so good.
Clearly that day l was low in magnesium.
I have also tried to take a footbath with magnesium chloride and it immediately made me nauseated, dizzy, gave me cold sweats, shakes and tunnel vision.
Clearly that day l was either sufficient or high in magnesium.
So to sum up:
You should only be using magnesium sulphate as a laxative and you should only be using magnesium chloride as an electrolyte if are absolutely not interested in your well being in any way!
Instead you should use magnesium citrate or magnesium bisglycinate depending on what you can get and based on your level of stomach acidity.
You need HCL (stomach acid) to convert magnesium bisglycinate.
You dont need HCL for any conversion with magnesium citrate.
So if you have low stomach acidity in general you would need to use magnesium citrate.
But both of them have a very high bioavailability of 90% and 80% respectively compared to the other kinds of magnesium sources.
You can get a 300mg magnesium citrate/bisglycinate in capsules at your health food store.
If you with time find out that you only get 1l of the cell drink a day you can use a 500mg magnesium instead of the 300mg.
Make sure its capsules so you can open it and pour it into the cell-drink.
Make also sure that they dont contain any colouring or sugars.
This you can add
The following is optional.
I like to add it for convenience but you dont have to.
If you want to support your pH value, enzyme activity and kidneys and dont want to add it to your cell-drink you can instead do a Kidney-Shot (see recipe here) once or twice a day when you exceed 48h of fasting.
Now l am not going to start my ACV rant, l promise!
You can read my rant and find studies on the Kidney Shot page.
Let me just say that the health benefits of ACV is so extensive!
ACV is short for Apple Cider Vinegar.
I prefer the Bragg ACV because its raw and because you have the mother culture in the bottle.
That means it only gets better and you have all the benefits from the mother culture in every drink you take, if you remember to shake the bottle before pouring.
The mother culture is the murky debris in the bottom of the bottle.
ACV contains protein, enzymes and friendly bacteria and even more so in the mother culture, so chose the Bragg one.
Other brands dont contain the mother culture and are filtered.
You add 2-5 tablespoons of ACV to your 1l of cell-drink.
Sodium bicarbonate tuns ACV alkaline when they mix and as you see all l have done is adding the kidney shot to my cell-drink.
That way l get it all in one go.
How clever is that?
If you dont like the taste of it remember that the ACV and bicarbonate is not a part of the cell-drink but something l add because its convenient for me.
You add 1/2 teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate to your cell-drink.
What to do?
Ok, this is what you do:
Take 1 liter of water
Add 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of Maldon salt
Add 1/8 – 1/2 teaspoon of potassium chloride
Add 300mg-500mg of magnesium citrate/bisglycinte – open the capsule and pour it in.
Since there might be fillers in the magnesium you might have some white debris or clumps that wont dissolve.
Thats fine. Just drink it.
Now you might be asking; “but hey! that cant be tasty!”
And you are so absolutely right!
But remember; that is not why we drink it!
If you want to you can add:
2-5 spoonful of ACV
1/2 teaspoon sodium bicarbonate
How l do it
l have my 1l cell drink in the fridge.
I then divide it up to 3 equal parts that l drink morning, noon and night so its kinda feels like a meal.
I have a 700ml glass that pour the 333ml into and then l top it up with sparkling water (without taste! the pure one!) and then ice cubes and a straw.
I find that drinking it with a straw makes it easier!
Ok, thats it…
Now you are ready to start your fast.
Remember you might experience different symptoms and not be sure what to do about them, that is why l have made you this overview.
Here you can find your symptom and read what appropriate approach you should take.
That said; fasting is supposed to feel good!
You are supposed to enjoy it!
Its ok to be hungry!
Of course you are!
You are not eating!
So let me just repeat myself from other posts l have previously made:
IF YOU DO NOT ENJOY YOUR WATER FAST THEN YOU ARE DOING SOMETHING YOU ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO!
YES! you are supposed to enjoy it!
So if you at any point feel sick; or no longer enjoy it STOP THE FAST!
Re-feed with some good fat and protein
Re-adjust your expectations
And Re-Start your fast
.. this time maybe with some more electrolytes.
And if you still are reading l would recommend you to read my nerd page here