How to prepare, what will happen during a fast & how to end a fast

Preparing for the fast

While there may be XR doctors willing to help during a fast, this does not constitute medical supervision. Anyone refusing food for prolonged periods should seek the guidance of their own General Practitioner or Family Physician (someone who has access to past medical records and can order blood tests where appropriate).

Emotional preparation

The media will likely want to talk to the fasters who have lost the most weight, who look the most exhausted or who appear to be the slenderest. Because of this, there should be people who can talk to the media instead of the fasters when it is necessary.

Some fasters, especially younger ones, might experience pressure from their families to break the fast or to forgo the fast entirely. It is important for the individual concerned to make their own decisions, yet for relatives to cope with their loved ones fasting, it is crucial for the person’s and its surrounding family’s wellbeing that people from our regenerative culture can step in and help mediate between the two parties if necessary. All participants under 18 years of age, however, are strictly required to have both medical and parental consent to participate in the fast.

There should never be any pressure on any faster to continue the fast longer than what the individual feels like or is practical for them in regard to health or medical needs. Any and all participants can stop their fast whenever they feel it is necessary.

Earth Fast has many more roles that need filling other than just participating in the fasting itself, which are as important in making the action successful as the actual fasting. If a person has any doubts about whether they should fast or not, they should know that they are indeed welcome to help out with other things surrounding the fast, as these are just as crucial to the overall action.

What happens to the body during a fast

Total fasting forces the body to find substitute sources of glucose, which is essential for providing energy to the body, and to the brain in particular. During a fast, the body begins to “digest itself”, breaking down the various tissues so as to provide a constant supply of glucose.

The following physiological events occur during total fasting (absorption of water around 1.5–3 litres per day):

  • Glycogen stored in the liver and in muscular tissue is the source of energy during the first few days of total fasting. Glycogen reserves are used up after 10–14 days.

  • Fatty acids from the breakdown of fat tissue are broken down into ketones, which also provide energy. This phase begins early on in the fasting, and the ketosis suppresses hunger pangs after 2–3 days.

  • Protein is catabolized but is “spared” by the body, providing only 10% of the energy source.

  • Significant weight loss occurs at the very beginning of total fasting, mainly from loss of fluid.

  • Medical monitoring is generally recommended after 10% weight loss in average-weight individuals.

  • Significant problems may arise when weight loss is around 18–20 % of the initial weight.

The XR Earth Fast is meant to take place only over many weeks, with some wishing to extend their fasts indefintiely, until the demands are met. This is where fasting is generally well supported, as long as water/fluid intake is sufficient . Other important information to take on board before commencing a fast is as below:

  • Hunger pangs and stomach cramps typically disappear after the 2nd–3rd day.

  • Other than reducing the initial hunger-pangs, there are few (if any) benefits of slowly reducing your intake before the fast.

  • Since constipation will likely be an issue, it can be good to end a fast with high-fibre foods such as fruit and berries, vegetables, legumes, nuts and grains.

  • Fasting rapidly affects the immune system, so if there is evidence of infection on top of the normal fasting symptoms, the risks are much greater. It is dangerous to continue fasting with the slightest suggestion of infection (sore throat, fever, beginning of a cold, etc); if participants experience any of these, they must immediately break the fast.

  • People who are normally underweight are advised not to participate in the fast, or should choose to only fast for a shorter period of time.

  • People who are underweight (less than 18.5 BMI) or are struggling with eating disorders are NOT encouraged to participate in the fast whatsoever.

  • It is recommended that participants monitor their weight during the fast. It might also be useful for the fasters to work out their Body Mass Index (this can be done on the internet using BMI calculators) ahead of commencing the fast to work out what type of fast is most appropriate for them.

During the Fast

It is recommended to drink 2-3 Litres of water each day.

It is recommended to take a multivitamin and mineral supplement, which includes the minerals potassium and sodium. The supplement should provide nutrients at the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance).

Avoid exercise wherever possible; as you will be physically exhausted for most of the time, and it is extremely unhealthy to exercise while on a fast. And during the fast your metabolic rate will slow and you will lose fat which means you will get cold more easily.

Look out for any swelling of your ankles and keep track of how much water, minerals and vitamins you are taking each day as it might be useful information for your doctor. Most of your problems, particularly at the start, will be from lack of fluids so if you feel thirsty or dizzy, it’s best to keep drinking.

It may be useful for the participants Doctor or Home Physician to have a record of how the participants weight changes so they can gage the level of risk the faster is subjected to.

After the Fast

What and how to eat after a fast

One of the less obvious risks to fasting is when people start eating again. Insulin is a hormone which the body normally releases when we eat. It tells the body’s cells to take up various nutrients from the blood into cells. This includes not just sugar, but also potassium and phosphate. The blood levels of potassium/phosphate will then naturally fall, perhaps dangerously low. This is the main problem with ‘Refeeding Syndrome’. Although it is mostly a risk to the fasters who have fasted for five days or more, these recommendations are highly relevant to all fasters.

Start small when you start eating again.

Make a fruit and/or vegetable smoothie on the first day. Try watery things such as melon, watermelon, cucumber, strawberries, apples, peaches, celery, cabbage, tomatoes, spinach etc. Try to avoid acidic fruits at first, such as oranges, as this might create stomach pains.

Reintroduce everyday foods slowly. Start with smoothies as mentioned, continue with some solid fruit and vegetables, after a while add some nuts and seeds, legumes, bread and oats. Listen to your body and do not rush.

When starting to eat again, try to take mainly foods that are high in phosphate (this is usually foods high in protein: meat, nuts and legumes).

Follow whatever guidance your Doctor recommends in terms of blood tests.

Many of the symptoms of low potassium and phosphate are the same as starvation: weakness, fatigue, poor concentration; but look out for sudden deterioration. Take seriously any sense that your pulse or heartbeat is irregular (this is also a good reason to stop or limit caffeine intake during and immediately after the fast).

Emotional support after the fast

Fasting can be strenuous and demanding, both for fasters and for supporting activists. Regenerative culture should be present to help those involved with questions, worries, and reflections from the week.