Dry Fasting

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AN INTRODUCTION TO DRY FASTING

by Esmée La Fleur

A dry fast is an absolute, true fast in which you abstain from both food and water. This is the type of fast that was practiced by Moses (Exodus 34:28 & Deuteronomy 9:18, both times for 40 days), Ezra (Ezra 10:6, length undisclosed), the Nation of Israel (Esther 4:16, 3 days), Elijah (1 Kings 19:8, 40 days), the Ninevites and their animals (Jonah 3:7-10), most likely Jonah himself when he spent 3 days in the belly of the whale (Jonah 1:17), the Apostle Paul (Acts: 9:9, 3 days), and Jesus Christ (Matt 4:2, 40 days). More than likely, dry fasting has been practiced by many cultures and religious traditions throughout history.

Dry fasting has been practiced by the Russians for a very long time. There is quite a bit of literature available on dry fasting in the Russian language. However, none of these writings has been professionally translated. I was first introduced to the concept of dry fast by Tanya Zavasta (a native Russian speaker) in her book Quantum Eating. I found the information fascinating, but did not really know where to go with it. Then I discovered the web community forum The Fasting Connection where I met Milena Albert (a native Russian speaker) who had been practicing dry fasting and was in contact with Dr. Sergei Filonov, a Russian medical doctor who has been conducting dry fasts with his patients for 20 years. Then, I was referred to a Google translation of his 400 page book Dry Medical Fasting: Myths & Reality. While the translation leaves much to be desired (being computer generated), enough of the essence comes through to make it a very worthwhile read for anyone who in interested in embarking on this path.

There are two kinds of dry fasts: hard and soft. With a hard dry fast, the faster does not allow any water to touch their body, i.e. no washing dishes, no taking baths or shower, no brushing teeth, etc. With a softer dry fast, the faster can allow their body to come in contact with water. When you go on a dry fast, the pours of your skin develop a greater capacity to absorb water through the skin and in a good clean environment will readily absorb moisture from the air. It is for this reason that Dr. Filonov highly recommends undertaking a long dry fast in the mountains where the air if fresh, moist, and pure. He encourages many of his patients to sleep outside next to a stream of running water during their long dry fasts.

While several of our Biblical forefathers fasted for 40 days, the longest dry fast on record in modern times is 18 days. However, most modern practitioners of dry fasting do not recommend dry fasting for longer than 12 days. Dr. Filonov always recommends doing several water fasts before ever attempting a dry fast. Then he recommends that a person start with very short dry fasts, 36-hours once a week. After doing this for a while, then a person can gradually do longer dry fasts of 2, 3, and 4 days. Finally, to affect deep cleansing of the tissues and healing of serious chronic illnesses, he recommends a protocol known as a “fractionated” dry fast in which the person does a dry fast for 5-7 days, re-hydrates for 3 days, then does a second dry fast for 9-11 days. He has found this method to be extremely safe over time.

In order to achieve permanent healing results, a person must traverse two separate “acidotic” crises, the first between 3-5 days and the second between 9-11 days. So, by breaking up the fast, the “fractionated” method allows the person to go through the first crisis during the first fast and the second crisis during the second fast, thus reducing the stress on the body from too many toxins needing to be eliminated at one time. It should be noted that Dr. Filonov never recommend doing a dry fast for longer than 5 days without supervision. The problem with this is that there is are no medical doctors with experience in dry fasting in the United States. So, we are pretty much on our own if we want to use this method of healing.

Another method of dry fasting that Dr. Filonov has found to be extremely safe and beneficial is a protocol he calls “cascade” dry fasting in which the person begins by fasting 1 day and eating 1 day alternately. Then, he has the person fast 2 days and eat 2 days alternately, then fast 3 day and eat 3 days alternately, then fast 4 days and eat 4 days alternately, then fast 5 days and eat 5 days alternately. With this protocol the person is literally fasting one half of every month. In his book, Dr. Filonov says he personally knows a medical doctor who cured himself of a blood cancer by doing 5/5 protocol for a full year.

There was an interesting book published a few years ago called The Alternate Day Diet by Dr. James Johnson which advocates eating every other day for weight management and health maintenance. Although he did not have his patients fast completely on alternate days, but had them restrict their calories to 20% of metabolic requirements, his patient have experienced remarkable benefits and many have overcome severe inflammatory illnesses such as asthma (no longer needing medication). I don’t agree with his protocol of feeding on alternate days, and he even says that the results would be far greater if his patients did not eat anything on alternate days, but he feels that no one would be willing to fast every other day (perhaps he underestimates his patients?). His patients consume as much water as they desire.

I have communicated with a young man through The Fasting Connection who has suffered from severe irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) for a number of years. He decided to start water fasting every other day and has experienced remarkable improvements. After four months of doing this, he says that his IBS symptoms are 70% less than they were prior to instituting alternate day fasting. He has not changed his diet which he tells me is far from optimal. I wonder if he would get even better results if he dry fasted?

In a dry fast, the body does not eliminate toxins in the same manner as it does during a water fast. Instead of removing toxins through the normal channels of elimination, skin, liver, kidneys, urine, and bowels, it actually turns each cell into a tiny incinerator and burns the toxins up inside of the cell. One thing I have noticed since I started dry fasting is that I have almost no body odor or bad breath during a dry fast, while I always experienced this during a water fast. Each day of a dry fast is said to be equivalent to 3 days of a water fast in terms of detoxification, so you accomplish much more in a shorter time. The good thing about this is that a person does not need to take a long absence from their normal life, so it costs less both for the fast itself (if you are going to a facility to be supervised) and for the time taken off from work. Also, you lose less muscle mass and more body fat with dry fasting, than you do with water fasting, and the recovery time is quicker. Returning to normal function after a 10 day dry fast is much faster than after a 30 day water fast.

Nevertheless, a person should plan for a re-building time of twice the length of the dry fast. So, for example, if you do a 7 day dry fast, you should plan for a 2 week recovery period. After my first 4 day dry fast, I had so much energy on day 2 of re-feeding that I decided to go dig up a garden bed I wanted to plant and ended up pulling a muscle in my forearm because I was not properly re-hydrated. It took a week to heal and I learned my lesson. Do not overestimate your capabilities after a dry fast and make sure you give your body sufficient time to recover before engaging in any strenuous physical activity.

How you exit a dry fast is extremely important. If you do it incorrectly, you can definitely harm yourself. In his book, Dr. Filonov says to drink two liters of pure water very slowly, holding each sip in your mouth as long as possible, over a two hour period. Then he says to continue drinking water for the next 12 hours a little bit at a time. After that you can start to reintroduce other foods and liquids. Dr. Filonov is not a practitioner of a Zero Carb diet, so he recommends making a fruit compote out of dried figs, prunes, apricots, and raisins (all unsulfured and organic) cooked in water to soften before eating, as well as vegetable soup, fish broth, and raw milk kefir. The way I would come off a dry fast is to rehydrate with water as Dr. Filonov recommends and then introduce bone broth. After that, I would begin eating meat again. My preference is for raw ground beef, but rare steak would be my next choice. The key is to not over eat. Just make sure to hydrate yourself well with plain water before trying to eat anything solid.

Dry fasting itself is not a “cure,” but it provides the right conditions to allow the body to activate all of its own, God-given, healing powers. Dr. Filonov has seen many illnesses heal through dry fasting; below is a list of the ones he mentions in his book:

ovarian cysts
uterine fibroids
endometriosis
infertility
mastitis
hot flashes
yeast infection
parasite infection
viral infection
bacterial infection
benign tumors
rheumatoid arthritis
osteoarthritis
ankylosing spondylitis
asthma
chronic pneumonia
pulmonary sarcoidosis
atherosclerosis
hypertension
sciatica
herniated disk
brain injury
migraine headaches
gastritis
stomach ulcer
duodenal ulcer
pancreatitis
cholecystitis
ulcerative colitis
irritable bowel syndrome
hemorrhoids
non-insulin dependent diabetes
gangrene
atopic dermatitis
chronic urticaria
eczema
psoriasis
interstitial cystitis
chronic pyelonephritis
prostatitis
prostate adenoma
inflammation**Please note: There are a number of conditions for which dry fasting is contraindicated; namely, malignant tumors or blood conditions, tuberculosis, hyperthyroidism and other endocrine diseases, cirrhosis of the liver, heart arrhythmia, circulatory failure degrees II & III, underweight, pregnancy and lactation, being younger than 14 or older than 70 years of age. And, as always, is best to check with a qualified medical practioner before deciding to embark upon fast of any kind. 

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242 thoughts on “Dry Fasting

  1. I dry fasted for the first time a few days ago for 40 hours. I ended it not because I was thirsty but because I couldn’t handle not showering. Otherwise I could have and would have kept going. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to deal with the showering aspect?

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  2. I just started my fasting today and it would be dry for three days. due to the nature of my job can I sip just water or eat fruits at the end of the day and it would still be called dry fasting?

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      • Hi i was wondering what refeeding and rehydrating would look like after a 1 day dry fast?
        Im just starting out and want to start slow. Ive been on a diet for acne for 2 weeks and 2 days now and i will continue this diet on refeeding days.. daily diet includes 1 sweet potato, 400g mince beef, a cup of butternut squash, 3 fruit, 2 or 3 tbsp of sauerkraut, half capsicum, handful spinach, cucumber, kidney beans, chickpeas, green beans.

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  3. I’m a T-8 paraplegic as a result of an injury in September 2014. I started doing a 4 day dry fast once each month and have experienced incredible results. I can feel heat and light touch above my right knee and am starting to feel light touch in my left leg as well. I am able to notice a measurable change about 3-5 days after each fast. Sometimes it seems like 2 steps forward 1 step back but something changes every time.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. ‘Another method of dry fasting that Dr. Filonov has found to be extremely safe and beneficial is a protocol he calls “cascade” dry fasting in which the person begins by fasting 1 day and eating 1 day alternately. Then, he has the person fast 2 days and eat 2 days alternately, then fast 3 day and eat 3 days alternately, then fast 4 days and eat 4 days alternately, then fast 5 days and eat 5 days alternately. With this protocol the person is literally fasting one half of every month. In his book, Dr. Filonov says he personally knows a medical doctor who cured himself of a blood cancer by doing 5/5 protocol for a full year.’

    As this seems the safest I would like to try this (unless theres safer)?

    For the fasting days – do I drink as much water as I want – just no solids?

    For the eating days – do I eat whatever want?

    Thanks!

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      • ‘When you go on a dry fast, the pours of your skin develop a greater capacity to absorb water through the skin and in a good clean environment will readily absorb moisture from the air. It is for this reason that Dr. Filonov highly recommends undertaking a long dry fast in the mountains where the air if fresh, moist, and pure. He encourages many of his patients to sleep outside next to a stream of running water during their long dry fasts.’

        Does that mean I can’t do the 5/5 alternating dry fast to eat anything protocol if I live in a urban environment, commuting to and from work?

        Thanks

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  7. I did a 3 week fast and cured my tumour testicle. Now I’m doing dry to cure my thrombosed veins. I’ve had them for years and they stopped me from living, now I felt them twitch and change consistency for the first time in years thanks to dry fasting and massage with a sonic toothbrush lol. Funny how this didn’t happen on water though but my tumour was destroyed.

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  8. Hi Esmee, hi everyone,
    After one meal a day for three months and 1 day fasts per two weeks I attempted a dry fast. Hunger was not an issue. I lasted 38 hours only because of increasing chest pain. I got scared and broke the fast! It took a few days to subside and now I am doing another one. On day 1. Would you be able to shed light on why I had chest pain? Thanks

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  9. I’m struggling with dry hard stools and hemmeroids, can you offer me some advise please. How does meat only affect gut flora? I have dry fasted for two days before but when opening bowels stools were hard as usual.im losing this battle and doctor just prescribes fibre and laxatives. I’ve read fibre menace etc and taken hydro c that has even stopped working. Please help.

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  10. Is it safe to alternate day dry fast? I want to live like this if possible but I wonder if it will be safe for kidneys and how much I should drink on non-fast days?

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  11. Esmee! I think I used to read your posts and chat with you on fitnessthroughfasting. I was the one with the huge fibroids and was doing longer and longer water fasts. I also stumbled upon Dr. Filinov’s translated book and Milena. I knew dry fasting was what was missing. I’m so glad you have this page now! It seems that fear dominates the discussion at some forums about dry fasting. So I’ve been away. I’ve used Kefir to get my stomach back in shape for fasting. But over the last 2 weeks, I’ve been doing unplanned dry fasting. I caught a cold that moved to my sinuses and it made even homemade food taste like chemicals. I’ve tolerated little to no water. I’m ill, but not as ill as I would be if I were eating processed foods (or any food).

    I dropped from 186 to 170 in under 10 days, so I decided that this is the perfect time to add dry fasting. My sinuses would be much worse if I were staying hydrated. My uterine bleeding slowed way down in the last few days as well. I took a bunch of before photos of my very pregnant looking belly. I just need to keep a log of what I’m doing. A log can help other people and scientists. American medicine needs to expand beyond hysteria and pharmaceuticals. Fasting is what many people need. I find it weird that fasting is another part of the Bible Christians ignore or dismiss. Fasting would definitely open their eyes to many of the lies we’re told daily. I have fasted since my teen years, so I feel more comfortable with the fractionated dry fasting over cascading.

    Thank you, Esmee, for making this page! I look forward to being ovarian cyst and fibroid free!

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  12. Esmee, I am interested in a fasting retreat. I did some google searching and learned there are retreat centers in the USA where you can do extended water fasts. Do you know any places that will take someone on for an extended dry fast?

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  13. I’m interested in exploring fasting in the hopes to improve and heal a lung scarring condition I have called bronchiectasis, I only have it to a very mild degree and am free of infectious pseudomonas. Wondering if anyone has any experience with fasting and lung conditions or whether fasting would be contraindicated for such a condition.. Any insights/info would be greatly appreciated! thanks..

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    • I’m not specifically aware of a case history involving lung disease, but I cannot see why fasting would be contraindicated. I have a group on Facebook called Principia Lenta with some great resources in our group files that you can read. I especially recommend Triumph Over Disease by Dr. Jack Goldstein and Fasting and Eating for Health by Dr. Joel Furhman.

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  14. Namaste,

    What about Oil Pulling during the fast, does it affect the fast anyhow? I have been doing it in both water and dry fasting without really knowing whether there might be any negative effect.

    Love and Light
    Marcos

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  15. I’ve done many 3, 5, & 10 day water fasts, but ready to try the Dry Fast…my only concern is I need to take pills at night. I could get all pills down on one gulp of water, would that ruin the Dry Fast completely. Not sure what else I could do….any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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  16. Dry-fasting is done by Moslims from Sunrise to Sunset. They are ordered to do it for one complete month every year, and they have the choice to do it as often as they wish in the remaining months. The ideal way to break their fasting is by eating fresh dates, and if there were no fresh dates they would eat dried dates; if there were no dried dates, they would have a few sips of water.

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    • I have witnessed a few females with problems (eg endometriosis, period pains, migraines) doing dry fasting with very positive results. I am thinking of taking a tour of females with problems to Filonov’s retreat in Russia.

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    • I am investigating the potential to take a group of women with gynecological and hormone problems, especially endometriosis, to Dr Filonov’s retreat. Recently there was a media report that said there are over 700,000 women in Australia with endometriosis. That is a huge percentage of our population (total 24 million). A group of about 10 women would justify a translator, and they could be mutually supportive of each other during a medically supervised dry fast. I have had a little experience in helping some women with their problems – with dry fasting.

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  19. Lmao. The “how do I break the fast” comments are ridiculous. Just think about it for a moment. Your Grok. You haven’t had any water in a few days or food in a few weeks. You happen upon a fresh carcass next to a river. Does anyone really believe Grok wouldn’t have drunk as much water and eaten as much meat as he could have right then and there? I always break my dry fasts (the longest I’ve done is 5 days) by drinking a ton of water and eating a bunch of steak. Never had even the slightest problem. Come on people use your brains. We are animals. We were built for this.

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  21. I also have skin condition for 10 years. ZC 8 Months.
    I only managed to do water fasting for 24h, weekly. Is this enough?.
    Also 8 months zc, now strictly beef and water. i cannot tolerate pork chicken or some others meats. No coffee.
    only some green tea.
    I feel better, better digestion, no bowel problems , still the skin doesn´t change.
    What should I do?
    besides i have histamine problems

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      • To sleepwalkingwell:

        Regarding heavy metal toxicity – there is an old saying, “Mad as a Hatter.” This is because the hat-making process used to use a chemical containing Mercury, and the Hatters exposed to this toxic heavy metal over the course of their careers would exhibit symptoms of insanity.

        I say this to make the following point: you might be able to find the info you’re looking for by googling about the symptoms that Hatters used to get from this poisoning. Good luck!

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  26. Hi Esmee, I really appreciate what you do here. I’ve read through a good deal, including the comments. I was wondering if dry fasting does a better job at “emptying the bucket” of histamines than water fasting? Or is it better to be urinating more to get the histamines out? It would be more motivation for me to dry fast if the former is the case. And I am curious. As you said: “Each day of a dry fast is said to be equivalent to 3 days of a water fast in terms of detoxification.” That is impressive.
    I currently don’t have access to a fresh source of meat to substitute for the meat I’m getting now.

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      • I usually have to water fast for about 15 days in order to be able to eat beef again without reacting too badly. Unfortunately, my life doesn’t always allow this and so I often end up postponing it as long as possible until I can no longer avoid it, which is not ideal. But fasting really requires the ability to rest as needed.

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        • It’s scary when you feel like you’re running out of food options. 😦
          I guess you have to just keep on trying, and maybe fast lengthily. It’s kind of hard.
          Thanks for the good information, Esmee!

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          • Yes, it’s very scary. Fasting definitely reduces my reactivity to food. It has been shown to stabilize mast cells, so I expect this is why. However, fasting will never heal the underlying cause for my food reactions which I now know are due to mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS). I did a long 40 day water fast last year, with two dry fasts during it (5 & 7 days respectively) and, while it reduce my reactions enough to allow me to resume eating again, I remain extremely reactive to all food. Many people with food intolerances who read my story have contacted me privately from various places in the world seeking help. It’s a relief to know that I am not alone, but the growing prevalence is really quite frightening.

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          • I wish I could give you a hug. A big problem for me is accepting all the changes happening and moving forward, and accepting dashed expectations really. I don’t know the root cause of my food intolerances, but I don’t think I heard of MCAS till I read here.

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          • Hi Esmee
            It’s Karen. We have spoken before thru messaging. I am the one that has NO large intestine and has multiple food intolerances. Basically I live on 2 proteins. Things are getting worse for me recently and not sure if Hormonal also being 47.
            Heart palpitations, very low blood pressure, major confusion, fatigue is always bad but I always keep moving as I feel better when I do.
            anxiety (which I haven’t had like this before) Amd othter things. Poor circulation, red fingers etc…
            Anyway, how do I know if MCAS is something I should check for?
            Amd how did you find out?
            Thanks

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          • Getting a diagnosis for MCAS is very difficult. I sawctwo specialist, immunologist and gastroenterologist, at UCSF, and neither were familiar with it enough to be able diagnose me. I do not have the money to see an MCAS doctor. Nevertheless, I am 99% convinced, based on my history and symptoms, that this what’s wrong with me. If you want more info, message me privately and I will give you more links to explore.

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    • It’s a great question and I honestly don’t know the answer. When I am unable to find a soirce of beef low enough in histamines, I will turn to whole chickens vacuum sealed in plastic. I have access to “Sonoma Red” pasture-raised Step 5 chickens by Petaluma Poultry. I cook the whole bird on low simmer in one cup of water for 3 hours and then allow to cool for 2 hours and I do pretty good with this. I just don’t find chicken to be as satisfying as beef, but it’s better than nothing. I consume the liquid with the fat and all the meat I desire (depending on the size of the bird), except for the breast which is way to dry and lean for me.

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      • Thank you so much, and I will continue learning what my body can handle. It’s nice to learn from others who’ve already figured this stuff out. I like beef myself, too :). Thanks for the chicken recipe.

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        • It has taken me a long time to figure oit what works and what doesn’t. Beef is so complicated because it’s aged. I do terrible with grassfed beef because it’s all dry aged for 1-2 weeks before the butcher gets it and i recent learned that it’s also sprayed with citric acid which is made from Aspergillis mold and I have reacted to that for years before I ever knew why. I seem to so better with beef that has been cryovac’d withing 48 hours after slaughter and is freshly opened for me. You might have a butcher cut you several steaks from a newly opened cryovac’d package of New York Strip or Ribeye and freeze them immediately and then thaw just before cooking and eating and see if you do any better with these.

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          • I would’ve never guessed grassfed beef or any of the beef I buy is sprayed. That should be put on the packaging… These are great tips. I’ll be doing more asking around. I’m still sort of new, having been on this diet for almost 2 months and gone through hurdles because of food intolerances and have been eating only beef lately, including grassfed beef from Publix. Thank you.

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          • I was told that dry aged beef is sprayed with citric acid, and grassfed is usually dry aged. But it’s always good to call the grower and the slaughterhouse they use if necessary. However, even if they don’t use citric acid, histamines are much higher on dry aged beef and I have reacted extremely poorly to every source of grassfed beef I have tried and they have all been dry aged for 1-2 weeks. So, it could be one or both. It’s very discouraging if you eant to support naturally raised and humane growers.

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  27. Hi Esmee, I’ve been devouring your website articles ever since I finished Bear’s book. Lots of good information here, but in particular I want to thank you for your extensive writing on dry fasting.

    I’ve read the New Testament straight through, 4 times, but of course John didn’t use the term “dry fasting” when he wrote of Jesus’ temptation after 40 days of it. So I had never heard this term before, nor did I even know people did such a thing nowadays. I am really looking forward to trying it, as I have have multiple issues that might be reduced in severity or even eliminated.

    Other than 16/8, I haven’t done any fasting since 2012. But I did about 150 days of 16/8 last year. Am I ready to try a 36-hour dry fast now, or should I work in a few 24~26 hour water fasts first?

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  28. Great article. I’ve been Carnivore and water fasting for awhile. I’m about to start dry (soft) fasting. My concern now is breaking it. Have you heard that adding salt to water is better than plain water to break it?

    (I may just do as I have been since 2016, do my own experiments as to what works best.)

    Thank you!

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    • No, plain water is best. Filonov says to be extremely careful about salt consumption after a dry fast. Of course the longer the dry fast, the more cautious you need to be when you break it.

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      • I had my electrolytes tested after 6 days of dry fasting and it was potassium that was marginal, not sodium. I now add potassium. Everyone is different. On my last dry fast (without potassium) I experienced gout for the first time. I have read that potassium citrate is an antidote.

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