One of the most beneficial ways to detox is by going on a water fast. We use lemon water because, well, it’s nice to have a little flavor, but also because lemons are a great detoxification aid. It’s very close to stomach acid on a molecular level, which tricks your liver into making bile which, in turn, pushes food and waste through your system much more quickly. It has the added benefit of giving you a super-boost of Vitamin C and antioxidants—great detoxifiers in their own right.
Going on a lemon water fast isn’t just as simple as buying a bag of lemons and putting a full stop on eating. You need a pre and post-game strategy. It takes some preparation, a strong mental game during the process and a strategy for easing out of it. We recommend you do it for three days. If you want to go longer, you might consider some coaching from a professional nutrition coach. We’ll just assume for the sake of this article that you’re going to go on a three-day lemon water fast.
Set a date at least a week out to begin your fast. Immediately begin to phase out processed foods, sugar, alcohol and caffeine. For the three days prior to beginning your fast, you should only be eating raw, organic fruits and vegetables with a small amount of organic, grass-fed or free-range protein added into the mix.
Doing this puts you on a track for detoxifying, as a mostly raw diet will start the process. This serves to prep your body for less food and added chemicals and will help to reduce the side-effects of a lemon water fast, which can include headaches, nausea and a physical sense similar to that of having a cold or flu.
Begin to mentally prepare yourself for the process. Recognize and acknowledge that you will have moments of weakness where you want to quit. For some people, there is no mental struggle—they are the lucky few. Most of us have to fight the primal instinct to eat that your body naturally, and rightly, throws at us. Meditation before and during the fast can help.
During your fast, drink between one and two quarts of water per day. More is fine, but do not exceed three quarts a day as it is actually possible to drink too much water. Spread your water consumption evenly over the course of the day. Squeeze a half-lemon per 8 ounces of water for best results.
It is important to allow time for rest and relaxation during a time of a lemon water fast. The level of which depends on the individual, and for some, even driving a car during a lemon water fast is ill-advised while others can live life more or less the same as always. Nevertheless, it is not advised to do anything particularly strenuous. Instead, allow time for activities that both distract you from eating and reduce stress: yoga, meditation, reading or even catch up on your favorite TV series.
You will likely notice weight loss occurring relatively quickly. This is mostly water weight, which can come back easily. The best way to leverage a fast for weight loss is to use it as an opportunity to eat clean once the fast is over.
Breaking your fast
On day three, or even day two for some, you’re going to start envisioning dancing snacks and treats or, like the old cartoons, start seeing everything as a big, juicy steak. You’ll start planning the epic meal you’re going to eat once your fast is over. You must resist the urge to immediately gorge yourself.
The first day after you break your fast, start by eating small pieces of juicy fruit, something like watermelon or mango or peaches. Eat a few pieces, wait a couple of hours, then eat a few pieces more. By dinner time, you should be prepared for a reasonably-sized meal.
If things have gone as planned, you should have reset your relationship to food. Moving forward, limit your regular diet to organic fruits and vegetables, with an emphasis on dark, leafy green vegetables. Avoid processed foods, added sugars and grains. Eat organic, grass-fed and free-range protein as well as wild-caught fish. This should allow you to fully benefit from fasting.