Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, these are my opinions and this is my experience.
I did the Master Cleanse for 10 days. I pretty much did my own thing though and did not follow it to a T. I drank mostly water and the lemonade drink 3-4 times a day. The Master Cleanse involves drinking a lot of water and the lemonade drink which is lemon juice, water, maple syrup and cayenne pepper.
My super, super coles notes:
My body and mind needed a reset.
It got easier, but it was not easy.
I lost about 12-13 pounds, (although this wasn’t for weight loss purposes) since finishing I have only gained 3-4 pounds back.
When you put your mind to something, it is amazing what you can accomplish.
Mental strength is key.
I achieved the mental clarity and natural energy that I wanted and needed.
Okay, let’s DIVE IN!
Why I did it
Having energy throughout the day and mental clarity for me is key to living a healthy, vibrant life. I’m sure it is for a lot of other people too. For the last 6 months it has been a bit of a whirlwind personally and I think my diet got a little bit out of my control. First, Ian and I started with two months from January-February of traveling where we were eating out nearly every meal. March and April were spent again doing a bit of travel and getting ready to move to Canada, which involved some stress. Then we moved to Toronto and since being here, it has been great, but again it hasn’t been until now that I have found a routine again. During this time of transition, I was probably eating a lot more dairy, gluten and going out a little more with my friends who I hadn’t seen in a while. Long story short, I was not feeling well, I had very low energy (especially in the morning), I had gained unwanted weight and there was a mental fog that followed me day in and day out. I was starting to develop some bad eating habits, I was drinking too much coffee, I was bloated, my joints were sore and I had a lot of inflammation.
I needed to do something and when I figured out what I wanted to do (enter Master Cleanse and fasting), I researched it until I decided it was something that I definitely wanted to do. I read the pros, the cons and the benefits and side effects to fasting. I listened to a lot (like a lot) of podcasts on fasting and read a lot of research on the topic.
I know it seems faddish and intense but the way I was feeling I was willing to try anything. Now having finished it, I am so happy I did it.
Some interesting things I learned from my research:
The hunger hormone: Ghrelin
A study done with patients who undertook a 33 hour fast, measured their ghrelin levels every 20 minutes. They found that hunger peaks do not increase over the day, they peak at three distinct times (breakfast, lunch and dinner). After the initial wave of hunger, it stabilizes even if you don’t eat. Hunger comes in waves and if you ignore it, it disappears. This was so interesting to me and something I didn’t know before I did my research. It was good to be able to have a sense of what my physiological response would be to hunger.
The human growth hormone
Human Growth Hormone is a hormone made by the pituitary gland (the master gland). It plays a big role in kids and adults too, however it decreases as we get older which typically leads to higher levels of body fat, lower lean body mass and decreased bone mass.
In 1982, Kerndt et al published a study of a single patient who decided to undergo a 40 day fast for religious purposes. His HGH increased by 300% after 5 days and 1250% after 40 days. One of the biggest things that I personally got a lot from people during this fast was “you are going to lose your muscle mass”. But, in fact the opposite happens and instead of losing muscle mass, you are likely to increase lean mass while burning fat.
Days 1- 3 (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday)
The first stage
So as expected days 1-3 were probably the hardest. Monday is tough as it is and it was about to get even tougher when I wasn’t able to have my morning coffee. I did have green tea so I didn’t give up caffeine completely. If I wasn’t working then possibly I would have been able to go without caffeine but I needed to stay somewhat alert during work. I got really, really tired at around 3:30 pm and when I went home, I fell asleep on the couch at 8:30 pm, DAY ONE DONE.
Tuesday (Day 2) felt easier, the whole day I was fine, I had okay energy, I even went for a three mile run at lunch. It wasn’t until I came home to Ian cooking dinner where I turned into a psycho person. I had to wait upstairs until he had finished cooking, eating and the dishes were clean. I came down, apologized and went to bed around 10. Needless to say, going forward he ate dinner before I got home.
Wednesday (Day 3) was hard. I woke up feeling refreshed so I felt great about that. I was at a breakfast briefing in the morning so I was around a lot of food, which I was actually okay with. I sipped peppermint tea and drank a ton of water. I got a slight headache around 3:30 pm and I was hungry. I went shopping after work ( a great distraction!) and did yin yoga in the evening. I caught up on my reality shows when I got home and again fell asleep around 10 pm.
At the end of the three days I realized how much I actually think about food and how many social situations revolve around food. I was also very emotional and sensitive during these three days.
Days 4-7 (Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday)
I knew this phase would be somewhat easier (based on my research).
Thursday (Day 4) I was hungry today and I had some cravings. I went to the gym at lunch and felt okay, I just did a bit of strength (20 mins max). After the gym and for the rest of the afternoon I felt okay and the cravings/hunger had subsided. I was feeling better and did not feel the urge to eat, not eating food started to become somewhat normal. Today was when I started to really become more in tune with my body and began to realize that it is okay to be hungry and I don’t need to eat the second I feel the slightest bit of hunger. I can’t tell you the amount of times I would be walking home from work and having to stop to get something to eat for the walk home.
Friday (Day 5) Ah Friday, the day that Ian and I typically go for dinner after work. I was prepared for Friday, I knew the weekend would be hard but I also made plans in advance so I would have things to look forward to that didn’t revolve around food. I tried to go for a run in the morning and I lasted 15 minutes and decided to stop. I had energy, but I just didn’t have enough to sustain a long run. I didn’t think I would be able to last another 5 days, I was sick of it and all I wanted was a cup of coffee. At around 10:30 a.m. I started feeling better. I still had that Friday feeling, in the sense that I needed to go out and do something. Ian and I went to dinner, I had a sparking water and a tea and was totally fine sitting there with Ian while he ate. I thought it would be torture but It wasn’t, it was nice to be out. Once we got home at around 8 p.m. I fell asleep on the couch… again.
Saturday (Day 6) Today was tough. I woke up feeling really, really light, like I had lost a lot of weight. I still had plenty of energy though which was a strange feeling. I had the whole morning planned and was looking forward to it. I walked for about 1.5 hours to meet Ian at the pride run, watched the race and then we went for breakfast (I had a lemon/ginger tea). I came home and sat on the balcony and read for the afternoon. We went to the movies later and Ian got his popcorn and chocolate, and I actually didn’t want any of it nor did I even feel like food, it was weird. I started feeling extremely impatient and narky though, that subsided after the movie. I decided to get bone broth for the evening which didn’t break my fast but provided me with some calories and nourishment. When I got home, I did a little at home spa face mask and went to bed early (nothing new). I was happy when Saturday was over.
Sunday (Day 7) THE BEST DAY. Today I felt that I reached mental clarity. I actually could not believe how GOOD I felt waking up the morning of Day 7. I felt euphoric, it was really strange but I felt happy, I felt energetic and most importantly I felt the brain fog had lifted. I woke up very naturally at around 6:30 (on a Sunday!), and went to Starbucks with my laptop and worked on my blog. I then went to a spin class at 9:30 which was about 50 minutes long, and I felt great. I didn’t push it too hard but just enough to get a good sweat on.
The rest of the afternoon was great, Ian and I went for a bike ride along the water and we just watched a movie in the evening.
Days 8-10 (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday)
The final stretch
Monday (Day 8) I had no food cravings today and I woke up again feeling refreshed. I was thinking back to last Monday and felt happy with my progress and that I was sticking this out. Although I had no food cravings, I still thought about food a lot and I think it was more the action of just eating something! I went to the gym at lunch and stretched. I felt really happy all day long but I still went through a lot of different emotions, it really ebbed and flowed throughout the day. Ian had had his dinner already by the time I got home so I was fine at night, and again fell asleep pretty early,
Tuesday (Day 9) I woke up naturally at 6:30 and felt great. I loved the feeling of waking up naturally without an alarm clock. I took the extra time I had in the morning to read my book and catch up on emails. I felt really good energetically, but I was happy that it was almost over. I was having cravings for fatty, satiating foods like avocados and hard boiled eggs and that was it! I started to feel tired around 4 pm but then received a project to do at the end of the day which was great because it woke me up and was a great distraction. When I got home I was exhausted and just took it easy in the evening. I also noticed that I was sore from my yoga and spin the previous days, possibly more than normal.
Wednesday (Day 10) I woke up at 6 am and once again felt amazing. No brain fog, lots of energy and a really happy and overwhelming feeling of joy. THIS WAS MY GOAL from the beginning, to wake up naturally and fresh. I did yoga at lunch time and felt energetic all day and night. I could have possibly been feeling extra excited though because it was the last day. I went to the grocery store in the evening to get my stuff for the next day. I was so happy to be in a grocery store again!
Days 11-12 (Thursday, Friday)
I was excited today, like really excited, I had this overall sense of accomplishment and I was proud of myself and proud of what my body and mind had accomplished. When you put your mind to something it is unbelievable what you can do. I did a lot of research on the “re-feeding phase” and how important it is to take it easy. Upon waking up I had a lemon water and a fresh orange and carrot juice from greenhouse juices. I had some cashew nuts and olives throughout the day and for dinner I had avocado, boiled eggs, a few pickles and some paleo mayo. Sounds weird but it is all I wanted. I find fats east to digest so this is what I had for the few days after as well.
How I feel now
I feel stronger, I feel lighter, I wake up with a lot of energy and the mental fog is gone. I feel healthy, I feel fit and my running has been stronger. I am not inflamed any longer and my joints aren’t sore. I really noticed it when I went to do a track workout the other day, I felt stronger than I have in a really long time.
Would I do it again
I am very interested in intermittent fasting and possibly another 4-5 day fast maybe going into Winter. I don’t think I will do another 10 day cleanse anytime soon!
After doing this, I now know how I want to feel day in and day out. I want to feel clear headed, I want to feel energetic, I want to feel less inflamed, I want to feel comfortable in my own skin. And no you do not need to do something as extreme as this, but for me, for my personality, this is what my body and mind needed.
Basically anything with Dr. Jason Fung and Megan Ramos
Fasting Talk with Jimmy Moore.
Balanced bites podcast 298: Fasting with Dr. Jason Fung
Balaced bites podcast 294: Keto and Low Carb with Jimmy Moore
If you have ANY questions on fasting, intermittent fasting or the master cleanse, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.