Before I begin this article, I must preface by saying that the 300 days of dry fasting includes over 100 days of actual extended dry fasting and over 200 days of refeeding with various different experimental variations. I've done many non-counted 3-day dry fasts, 5-day, and 7-day ones, some 9 days, and even an 11-day one. You may have found this by searching topics like Who has dry fasted the longest or Longest dry fast ever recorded? While I may not claim to have dry fasted the longest, over 100 days of dry fasting puts me pretty high up there. Not to mention, the research behind it and the hundreds of hours of help I provide guiding other new fasters. What I've figured out is that you don't need to do long dry fasts of 7 or more days if you can dial it in with precision. Yes, if you have the discipline and willpower to go for longer, you can cut down some time. I talk about this a little more in the next article that I'm writing, but it has to do with chaperone-mediated autophagy days being the ones that should be counted. But if you prefer to focus on the magic 5 days, there are ways to merge this into your daily life and not have to take months off of work to go off on dry fasting retreats.
Dry fasting can heal anything and everything
My last few months have been filled with real-life commitments, helping others, fighting back from a covid re-infection (scary), and lots of experimentation. Side note, from the most current research I do believe one of the main causes of long covid stems from the bone marrow being infected because of certain deficiencies caused by extreme stress, physical or mental during acute infection. https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2023.07.14.549113v2 So it's definitely scary, there are no medications that are going to treat your infected bone marrow (unless it's for the elite who can afford to repopulate bone marrow stem cells harvested from compatible embryonic stem cells). The only thing that you have hope for is your body's own autophagy. So get to fasting already!
Back to dry fasting healing anything. Sure, some exceptions apply to every rule. But I'll be damned if it doesn't work on nearly everything. The human body is so complex, the more you learn about it, the more you realize how little we know. Once you start trying to understand metabolic pathways like the Krebs cycle, you learn that many of these relationships have been defined, but not fully understood. I mean just comprehending that energy and light can play a vital role in shaping so many metabolic processes, shows us that our studies for the past hundred years have not even had a true control group. We're only now starting to realize that on a quantum level UV light impact almost everything! This could mean everything we think we know is off to varying degrees. Anyways, taking all of this into consideration, I'm sure we can agree that the body is very complicated, and the thousands of different diseases, although similar are usually unique to the person. Like a disastrous yet beautiful mosaic of symptoms, causes, and inflammation. When someone gets very sick with an autoimmune disease for example, often the symptoms are treated, but the underlying condition worsens or is kept at bay with an ever-increasing assortment of medication. The doctor starts giving medicine A for symptom A, which causes symptom B, so now take medicine B, which causes C, and so on and so forth.
What if our body had a house cleaning switch? Something that literally targets everything from organs to cells, to even microtubules? Sure it can't do it all in a couple of days, but consistent house cleaning will eventually get the job done. Welcome to fasting. Now intermittent fasting is all the rage, water fasting is growing in popularity, and dry fasting is still taboo. Fasting is already understood as a house cleaner of sorts. But what if I told you that once you tip the scales into disease, intermittent fasting is usually not powerful enough to house-clean your way out of it? You need some serious autophagy. Yes, with water fasting you can get great results, and there's a reason there are so many testimonials out there of people getting cancer and then water fasting for 30+ days. When times get desperate, people get to desperation fasting. Of course, preventative fasting is the cure for a healthy life with the least amount of stress, but let's face it. Most people start their fasting journey because of a health issue. Knowing this, especially if you're one of them, is critical to understanding that you're coming from a disadvantaged position. You will not have an easier time than your friend who is not yet as ill as you.
Different types of autophagy
- Macroautophagy: The most common form, where cytoplasmic material is engulfed by a phagophore which then matures into an autophagosome, eventually fusing with a lysosome for degradation.
- Microautophagy: Lysosomes directly engulf cytoplasmic components by invagination of the lysosomal membrane.
- Chaperone-mediated autophagy (CMA): Specific proteins are recognized by chaperones and directly translocated into the lysosome for degradation.
- Mitophagy: Specific type of macroautophagy focused on the removal of damaged or superfluous mitochondria.
- Pexophagy: Targets peroxisomes for degradation.
- Ribophagy: Specifically degrades ribosomes.
Some of these are only triggered deep into a fast. With a dry fast, you activate them around day three. Mitophagy is something we all need because mitochondrial health can be argued as the key to health. It's mainly stimulated by nutrient deprivation, but also recently discovered to be stimulated by hypoxia, so a low oxygen environment (the opposite of hyperbaric oxygen therapy). Of course, constant hypoxic environments are terrible, but the stressor involved with dry fasting is like controlled stress which can be very beneficial. During certain autoimmune conditions, specifically long covid we know that mitochondrial dysfunction occurs. Not only that, some of the mitochondria are seen to fuse together into some sort of nonfunctioning chimera. Mitophagy, please!
Water fasting is very powerful in and of itself. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to always work for some of the more dastardly illnesses. Do you know why? Water fasting is not the most powerful form of fasting. Dry fasting is. We talk about 'letting the digestive system rest' yet we continue to fill it with exogenous water that needs to be cleaned and filtered through. Dry fasting literally lets the digestive system stop functioning and go to sleep. That's also why refeeding (even with just water) has slightly unique components when it comes to dry fasting, as well as it needs to be taken very seriously. A bad refeed can actually unravel a lot of the benefits you were looking to get. The safest approach to refeeding is following protocols that others have been doing for a while, and once you understand the basics and your body, you can begin to tweak them a little bit. Filonov's protocols are the safest in my opinion, even though he slightly tweaks them from time to time. If you notice, the Scorch protocol builds off of Filonov's protocols with a lot of experimentation, but the bare bones remain.
A common comparison between dry fasting and water fasting is that dry fasting is 3x more powerful. That's just a simplified explanation. It goes much deeper and much more nuanced than that. It has to do with deeper ketosis and faster lysosome activity. Lysosomes are the key behind most of the benefits when it comes to fasting. They're activated by an acidic environment. I don't believe it's healthy to live in this state for too long (looking at the carnivore diet), but an acidic environment is what happens when you fast for a longer time, because once you start burning fat, you release fatty acids that get converted to ketones. This triggers things like chaperone-mediated autophagy as early as day 3 of a dry fast, but only on day 7 of a water fast. You cannot forget that dry fasting also creates a thick blood type of environment called a hypertonic environment. So it creates hypertonic stress. Hypertonic stress like all other hormetic stresses, helps your body bounce back much stronger. Sauna? Heat stress. Ice bath? Cold stress. Working out and running? Physical Stress. Water fast? Food stress. Dry fast? Water and Food Stress.
Do not underestimate cold plunges during a long dry fast
Are they required? No. Are they recommended? Yes.
Cold plunges are intense. It's a hate-hate-love relationship. You hate thinking about it, you hate doing it, but you love the feeling afterward. It's important to remember that as you continue doing them, it gets easier and easier, and before you know it you're a cold freak that tries to persuade their friends to cold plunge.
I'll have a post about cold plunges and dry fasting that goes into much more detail about how to do it, different options for different situations, and the actual physiological benefits and how they correlate with all the fasting milestones.
You'll notice that on the first two days, it's common to be slightly cold. Similar to water fasting. This is because you still have high levels of water in your system, as it is transitioning into ketosis. You find yourself in a sort of energy limbo. That's why the first two days are the hardest of dry fasts. Once you hit day 3 your energy and mood improve. This is also when you start feeling more warm on a dry fast. This is in relation to fat burn being really high, which creates excess energy felt as heat. This is also because your blood is starting to thicken, which holds in more heat. Filonov says things like your cells turn into mini furnaces, which could be related to the increased lysosome activity disintegrating many cellular debris/pathogens and more. Because of this, you'll want to avoid cold showers and plunges on the first 2 days.
On the third day and up, once you start feeling more comfortable, warm, and thirsty, you know it's about time to use cold water therapy. Look to do it when you need a boost of rejuvenating energy or motivation to continue. The colder the experience, the more dopamine will be created which will help you keep going. Cold water therapy is one of the only natural methods to get a sustained multiple-hour dopamine increase. Not only that, but the cold forces blood back into the core, and then pushes back blood filled with lysosomes, nutrients, and vitamins, thereby speeding up healing and wellbeing. It's also very important NOT to use cold water on the first few days of a refeed. That's when you need to stay WARM as your body revs up and prepares for the rebuilding phase.
A softer version for those of us who need some time to build up to cold showers is Cold water face immersion. Immerse your forehead eyes and at least 2/3 of both cheeks in cold water. This will stimulate your vagus nerve. Keep it in as long as possible. Side note, when doing cold therapy you ideally want to get to the point that you get goosebumps while you are still in the water. For ice water, you only need to be in it for 30 to 90 seconds, and as the temperature goes up, so does the time you need to sit in it. Studies showed slightly similar benefits sitting in moderately cold water for much much longer. Ain't nobody got time for that!
Refeeding is more important than the dry fast
Of course, you need to fast. In fact, it's super important to pass the first acidotic crisis and push as long as you can afterward (safely) to get chaperone-mediated autophagy to activate and heal you. That being said, the refeed will make or break you, as that's the time your immune system rebuilds, your mitochondria rebuild, and stem cells flood your body.
Fruitarian is not the ideal dry fasting diet, and I'm dedicated to giving you the answers, even if you don't like them. Eggs and more eggs. To see a near-ideal diet that you can make some variations to, read my monster detailed post about refeeding here: The Scorch Protocol: Heal Long Covid and Autoimmune Disease, then you can also read this one: How to Refeed after a Dry Fast | Filonov Protocol Variation. The Scorch protocol really gives you the nitty gritty details that come from tons of experimentation and consultation. The Filinov Protocol Variation article shows pictures of the food, talks about preparing it, and discusses the logical conclusions of different types of food when making decisions.
Look for the newest Refeed Guide that will point you to the correct places depending on what you're looking for. For example, if you're looking to heal an autoimmune issue like long covid, you need to approach refeeding on a low-sugar diet, while still maintaining all the important building blocks post-fast. If you're looking to just be overall healthy, and coming from a decently healthy position, you need to adopt a metabolically flexible refeed. It's knowing when to support stem cell growth with good sources of glucose, protein, vitamins, and omega-3. Then it's knowing when to help kick in autophagy by eating minimal carbs. It's also about knowing different supplement hacks, exercise timings, and more. The best way to keep up to date is to keep coming back to the Scorch protocol as I keep trimming and improving it on a weekly basis.
Carbs should not be skipped during the refeed.
You can embrace zero-carb or carnivore after a successful refeed. Carbs are important because they are the easiest to digest, and provide building blocks for erythrocytes - red blood cells, kidneys, reproductive organs, and about 30% of the brain. Your glycogen stores will be attempting to refill because gluconeogenesis will be minimized. Think about this, sure you can maintain homeostasis with zero carbs through gluconeogenesis, but don't you dare dream that it will be enough to both maintain cellular composition/turnaround, rebuild stem cells and glucose dependant organs, AND refill glycogen stores? Sorry. I'm serious. No to carnivore refeed. Sure you can increase the amount of egg, but lay off the fats unless they come from kefir and eggs (most digestible). Also, meat is tough on the system. I love meat and believe it's one of the healthiest things for us in this pesticide-driven world, but trust me and trust the fasting doctors on the first steps of the refeed.
Boy oh boy, is there a ton of theorizing when it comes to this. Luckily I have real-world experience running different tests and experiments, but this topic in and of itself should be explored. Stripping away all the complexities it boils down to digestibility. Keep it simple stupid. Eat Digestible during the refeed. Not all carbs are created equal. Fibers are carbs too. Keep carnivore to the pre-fast prep zone, and to the daily diet lifestyle. Personally, I prefer doing an animal-based type of diet on the day-to-day.
Embrace not sleeping on a dry fast - don't avoid it though
Sleep is one of the most important parts of healing and even autophagy. Did you know that autophagy in the brain mainly occurs during sleep? Think of it like housecleaning for your body. The brain is the customer-facing part of the store, the warehouse is the body. You can't clean while there are customers, so you can't clean while you're awake. The warehouse gets cleaned all day though. That's why sleeping is so important. During the refeed it's when a lot of healing occurs, including the body. That's another reason I recommend magnesium glycinate during the refeed, and if you're having trouble falling asleep still then the go-to is melatonin. A more natural way would be to use mag glycinate and chamomile tea.
However, during a dry fast, you may be unable to sleep much. Don't freak out, it's part of the process. You will eventually fall asleep, even if it is just for a few hours. This will be enough. Freaking out will only make it worse. If it's a big issue, then look into some tips I provide in The Scorch Protocol like sleep-promoting activities, and even hacking some sublingual melatonin during the post-absorptive and pre-acidotic crisis phases. There are also patches called sleep patches. They contain things like melatonin, valerian root, hops, magnesium, and 5-HTP. This is considered heresy by some, and experimental by others. The logic here is that we are bypassing the digestive system and going straight to the blood. The blood is thicker and undergoing autophagic and acidic processes, so this is a do-at-your-own-risk type of scenario. I am in the process of testing these still, along with one or two others. If you are interested in testing this, please reach out to me via the Discord group and let me know how it goes.
Day 1 to 3 is the hardest barrier to break
You may notice that if you often intermittent fast or even better, do one meal a day, the first day of a dry fast is super easy. However, for most people, the pain starts even on day 1, especially if you start it the night before. The first 3 days are called the post-absorptive phase. Read more about the phases at Fasting Mechanisms | Understand Ketosis and Starvation. You can expect a lot of physical struggle as your body transitions into burning fat from fuel while it depletes its stored glycogen. It is during these days that you are battling both a physical barrier (entering ketosis) and a mental barrier of not being able to eat (boredom, ghrelin, and leptin).
Once you deplete most of your liver glycogen, as well as muscle glycogen, you will enter into the acidotic crisis. The peak is reached and passed when you start to feel a lot better. It's at this point you can imagine your body breaking free from the cocoon and working completely differently. You can watch this transition and notice it if you monitor your urine pH and blood glucose during the fast. A slight jump in blood glucose and a pH of around 6 indicate you've entered it and should start to feel better soon. Breaking through depends on the person and the fasting flexibility your body has developed. Some call this the fasting muscle. Depending on if you've fasted before, you may enter it as soon as 60 hours in, for others it may take as much as 80 hours. I've noticed that you can hack this even quicker by starting with a ketogenic diet, and even faster with a zero-carb diet. This is discussed more in the Scorch Protocol and leads me to the next point.
Preparation can make or break your attempt
As a follow-up to the previous point, preparation is the most powerful way to ease your transition past the first days of the dry fast. It's also important when considering extended fasts and not having heavy foods sitting around in your digestive system. Eating meat the day before and starting an extended dry fast is a recipe for a disaster.
The food you eat before the dry fast is important. You are balancing zero-carb with extremely hydrating and alkaline foods. Some people prefer to juice before a fast to do two things. Start a liquid diet to minimize the impact on the digestive system and to fill up on mineral reserves. I used to subscribe to the idea of filling up on minerals right before, but have since veered away. Believe it or not, your fat cells hold vitamins and minerals and will keep you nutritionally complete during the fast (minus a few things like Vitamin C). It's mainly dependent on how complete your fat stores are. If you were deficient before going into the fast, you will have a hard time, regardless of if you try to stock up before the fast. There's a limited absorption rate of minerals in the body, and it's also dependent on lipogenesis - adipose tissue creation. The point is that now, through experimentation, I believe that a carnivore or zero-carb diet is an optimal hack to speed up the power of the dry fast. Meaning you get more out of it per hour than you would under a carb-filled diet.
Carnivore is hardcore. If you can handle a week of it, you will breeze through the dry fast. If you've been on Carnivore for a really long time, you may have an easy time starting a dry fast, but you will have a hard time going extended. Carnivore is a tool, it should not be a way of life. If you think that fiber and carbs are not necessary for optimal health, you're way off. If you can't eat a piece of fruit or vegetable without relapsing, or being sent to the ER with gut issues, stop pretending you are truly healthy. Metabolic flexibility is the number one sign of health. Of course, you should not eat meat at least 48 hours before the start, so you can use the scorch protocol concept of transitioning more to eggs and bone broth, and finishing up on powdered bone broth (no fat).
Caffeine Withdrawal is a dry fast killer
This is common sense, and I have been aware of it for a while, having added it to most protocols, however, I believe it's more than common sense, it's a requirement at this point. After so many fasts, the difference between being nearly fully withdrawn from caffeine vs just lightly tapered off is astronomical. One of your biggest battles on top of the keto flu transition will be caffeine withdrawal. Disregard this at your own risk. It more than doubles your success with a dry fast. If you read the Scorch Protocol for Long Covid, you will see strategies for the preparation period that help you go through caffeine withdrawal much easier.
The gist behind my strategy involves transitioning to steeping something like Yerba Mate instead of brewing coffee. Lightly steeped Yerba mate is still a tasty tea, while lightly brewed coffee is sometimes associated with dog piss (not my words). As you transition off yerba mate, you can still take raw cacao in a form like cacao paste, to keep up a small amount of caffeine and theobromine. Doing this makes sure that you are not tripling your agony during a dry fast, which, for most people means that they will exit it prematurely.
No heavy exercise - No cardio - No sauna
Hard labor and dry fasting don't mix. It's the dose that makes the poison. The body creates metabolic water. You can read about it here Metabolic Water and Fasting | Wet and Dry. So this metabolic water is what allows us to dry fast for periods of 7 to 11 days. But that assumes you are maintaining a delicate balance by not over-exerting yourself. There are reports of going longer, and some crazy people have done it, but it is a bit irresponsible. Some diseases are so pervasive that you'll do anything to try to get rid of them, including attempting to break dry fasting records to 'dehydrate' the parasites, bacteria, or viral persistence. To be safe, please be aware that exercising may put you into a big water deficit that metabolic water can't supplement correctly. This can put you into a dangerous dehydration level, and cause net negative effects in the long run. You don't need to do this to heal efficiently.
Every time I've tried to min-max and experiment with sauna use during the dry fast it has backfired. There is a time and place to mess around with it if you're doing short fasts, the way boxers prepare for a weigh-in. But if you're looking to heal, ditch the idea of sweating, and heat stress. The dry fast will make you hot all on its own, once you enter the acidotic crisis and onwards. I know most people won't learn this mistake until they make it themselves, but if you're reading this, and want to min-max your healing, you will avoid making this mistake and with it avoid a setback to your healing journey.
You will have ups and downs
You can be your own worst enemy when it comes to dry fasting. If you're not mentally prepared in advance for these fluctuating waves of energy, motivation, and depression, you will be at their mercy. The idea of 'this too shall pass' needs to be engrained, and you need a strategy to get through the low points. If it means retreating into your sanctuary of playing a video game or going for a walk, so be it. But prepare in advance. I've developed dozens of mechanisms to deal with it, but the more I dry-fasted, the easier it was to spot the wave and just ride it.
Go number two during the first 3 days of refeeding
If you can't go to the bathroom after 3 days of refeeding it means you may have impacted stool. That's why my small variation during the refeed protocol includes magnesium since it has a laxative and calming effect. If you still can't go, there's a chance you have parasites, and an enema is highly recommended. This is also one of the reasons Ivermectin is listed as an intermediate step when preparing for a dry fasting under the Scorch Protocol. You need to learn about this extraordinary molecule and not be afraid of using it correctly. On top of it being a fascinating and powerful crash/relapse suppressor for long covid sufferers, it has a plethora of beneficial effects.
If you're still scared about ivermectin please go to the Covid-19 Critical Care website https://covid19criticalcare.com/ and read up more about it. On top of the safety profile, and its powerful anti-parasitic functions, Ivermectin actually hosts a bunch of other benefits. It stabilizes blood sugar, similar to Metformin/Berberine through the FX Ligand mechanism, it's an autophagy inducer, it has anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects (think histamine flare, shortness of breath, MCAS, etc.), and it also works as a GABA agonist, meaning that it stimulates the production of the GABA neurotransmitter which is associated with the parasympathetic nervous system - The Calming down one. The Vagus nerve is directly associated with GABA and being able to lower the excitatory pathways and increase the calming GABA ones, is beneficial to it.
The beauty of it all? Ivermectin is extremely safe. Check out study after study. Even overdosing, which takes quite a bit, has mild side effects that usually resolve. Nearly drowning a lion in ivermectin caused it to go temporarily blind, and yet the symptoms reversed over time as the drug was excreted. Every animal in the world takes ivermectin as the safest anti-parasitic, and in very high doses especially if treating anything on the skin. You just want to get the doses right. In Africa, ivermectin is popped regularly. None of this means that it's completely safe, similar to any other drug, but you don't worry about taking things like valium, even though it's much more dangerous at infinitely smaller doses. The problem lies with the drug being politicized and then by some thinking that it cures covid. From my experience, it treats symptoms of Covid, but it does not heal it. Having said all that, with a weakened immune system from LC, you may want to have an anti-parasitic at hand, to at least rule out pathogenic hosts taking residence in your body when it's weak.
Ivermectin has been a tool that has saved me in my early Long haul journey on some of the worst days, and it has otherwise been a peace of mind on the parasitic potential. If you need help sourcing it, please reach out to me and I will send you some information.
It has been a roller coaster of a journey when it came to Covid and Long Covid. If I had not had water fasting in my arsenal early on, I would not have been able to beat back the worst of the symptoms, most likely lost my job, and never had the power to start dry fasting and eventually the dry fasting club. If you're reading this, I hope you're aware of how important fasting is. It's probably the most common factor mentioned in most recoveries, alongside time and rest. You'll notice most people never 'fully' recover, and this is because they don't have the full solution. Water fasting is a partial solution. Dry Fasting is the complete solution. Now I have to follow this up by quickly explaining that this still doesn't mean that dry fasting will cure your long covid. It is the 'autophagy' step. The refeeding is the recovery step. You need to break down (autophagy) the problems. But you also have to rebuild the damage through stem cells and correct nutrition/exercise afterward. Your mitochondrial dysfunction needs to be corrected, and there are many things you can do to help it on its way. The Scorch Protocol is what you need. Use it as your guide. If any of this has helped you in any way, please subscribe to the member's page to help me continue this work.