You’re ready to take on the great dry fast, and you want to eat right. But what can you eat and, more importantly, what should you eat? Here’s the key: it’s all in your gut.
What to eat before a dry fast? Eat fresh, raw fruit and vegetables and a predominantly plant-based diet, with healthy proteins and polyunsaturated fats. In the weeks leading up to a dry fast, consume foods that cleanse and heal the gut. Avoid alcohol, processed foods, and red meat.
Of course, specific nutritional considerations depend on the duration of your dry fast. For instance, a 16-hour intermittent dry fast has a different food protocol than a 5-day dry fast.
But before we get into the do’s and don’ts of food entering a dry fast, let’s appreciate how your body processes food and why that matters to your dry fast.
Supporting Your Body’s Dynamic Duo
Congratulations! If you’ve decided to dry fast, you’ve just taken control of your life. Dry fasting is a commitment to your health renewal, and the proper preparation will help you gain the most from your fasting—regardless of how long you intend to dry fast. Keeping this in mind, your nutritional focus before a dry fast should not be “eat to live” but rather “eat to clean.”
Dry fasting is an internal spring clean, out with the old, in with the new. At a microscopic level, it’s out with the feeble old cells, in with the healthy new cells. At a macroscopic level, you can also do a spring clean by deciding what you put into your body and support the organic duo in charge of your nutritional absorption and filtration – your gut as well as your liver.
Why Clean Your Gut
Unless you are a cow, foraging on greener pastures forevermore, your gut has been spending years digesting crap, some of which still hasn’t been digested, even after decades, and is lining the walls of your intestinal tract like graffiti only your proctologist will ever get to appreciate.
Most people have a terrible lifestyle, either with food or alcohol, which leads to a damaged and leaky gut. Your gut can hold up to 25 kg of sh** (this has actually been pulled out of someone during a colonic), and all this toxicity combined with a severed gut could be leaking out proteins into your blood, insidiously poisoning you!
Gut cleansing is vital before a longer dry fast, such as a 3-day fast, where poisonous gut juices could be leaking out of the holes in your stomach walls, attacking your body and setting off your white blood cells.
Your gut is your heaviest organ, and almost all nutrient absorption happens through the walls of your intestines. The digestive tract plays a huge role in disease prevention as gut health is related to inflammation which causes most chronic diseases.
Poor gut health also results in depression and anxiety. Researchers believe more than 80% of serotonin (the feel-good and calming hormone) is created in your gut. So having a healthy gut will make your entire dry fasting process even more accessible, simply because your mood will be better—and we all know a good mood improves everything.
So regardless of how long you plan to dry fast, the first thing to do before attempting dry fasting is to clean your gut!
Cleaning your gut is a double effort. First, you can ease your gut through the trials and tribulations of a dry fast through your diet—the foods you eat can help to scrub your intestinal lining, empty out the waste and provide nutrients to heal the digestive tract through this process.
Second, you want to physically aid in purging the waste in your colon. This can be done over a day, a week, or a month. Depending on your comfort and how seriously you plan to dry fast.
You can also combine this purging process with other cleansing and detoxifying methods like herbal tea, massages, and exercise. The idea is to completely evict the stinky critters that have overstayed their welcome in your bowels so you can now house healthy, friendly, less smelly, new tenants.
Foods to Clean & Prepare your Colon for a Dry Fast
Kale, Broccoli, Cauliflower are great as cooked green vegetables. Having brussel sprouts, and broccoli regularly in your diet is an easy way to include more fiber and get the contents of your bowel moving and on its way out. Also, sprouts! Have sprouted broccoli or sprouted alfalfa.
Quinoa, Oats, Bulgur Wheat, Buckwheat are great whole foods, even brown rice, and barley are minimally processed and packed with fiber, which helps move things along. Never have white flour. Instead, choose sprouted seed or multigrain bread (read the label to make sure it’s not full of chemicals!).
Pulses such as beans, lentils, and peas are a cheap way to include more fiber into your diet. They have a combination of insoluble and soluble fiber, so they add bulk as well and soften your stools.
Chia & Flax Seeds are very high in fiber and help bulk up and ease bowel movements. 2 tablespoons of chia have 10 grams of fiber. Flaxseed has insoluble fiber, which helps to prevent constipation, and contains about 6 grams of fiber. Both act as sponges to sweep through your colon and gently show your stool the way out.
Walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids and alpha-linolenic acids, which cleanse your colon. They are also a great source of fiber. This study on animals suggests walnuts decrease colon cancer and increase healthy gut microbiome.
Prebiotics increases stool regularity and gives you better consistency, as shown in this study on people with constipation. They also help grow good bacteria and lessen harmful bacteria. Prebiotics should be standard fare in your diet.
Artichokes are a prebiotic effect and contain indigestible carbs like inulin, which promotes good gut bacteria and increases bowel movement. It also has cynarine, a compound that helps to stimulate bile production, gut movement, and fat digestion.
Garlic, just like artichokes, good bacteria love garlic as it’s a prebiotic and the preferred source of food for bifidobacteria, the friendly bacteria in your gut. You can have it cooked; your good bacteria love it raw. This study shows garlic increases good bacteria and prevents some gastrointestinal diseases.
Other prebiotics includes bananas, konjac root, cocoa, seaweed, leeks, and onions. See here for a list of more prebiotic foods.
Probiotics should be a vital part of your dry fasting diet as they restore and enhance your gut microbiome, and which can even increase your metabolism! One 2016 animal study shows mice with a healthy microbiome losing weight, even while eating the same foods as mice with an unhealthy gut microbiome. The mice with a healthy gut could also eat more food and gain less weight than those with a bad gut. The study also shows that probiotics improve the gut microbiome.
Yogurt packs a punch with the healthy bacteria in your gut and can help reduce some of the bloating and indigestion from some cruciferous vegetables and beans that you want to add to your fiber-friendly diet.
Kefir is milk with kefir grains, and several credible dry fasting practitioners, including Dr. Mindy Pelz, Luke Coutinho, and Dr. Sergey Filonov, recommend kefir. Studies also show that kefir can be a life-changing probiotic and powerful aid for digestion. If you’re sensitive to milk, kefir is a better option as it has less lactose.
Kimchi is a spicy, fermented vegetable dish made from cabbage and bay chow, famous in Korean cuisine. It is also a powerful probiotic. A 2014 study shows kimchi can aid with constipation and a series of other benefits, including protection against cancer and obesity.
Sauerkraut is made with carrot, cabbage, and spices. Also a great probiotic from Germany. Healthy, and great with so many foods for a tart zing to your meals!
However, you should increase all these foods incrementally into your diet. Too too much all at once could cause too much bowel movement, gas, or bloating. Go up slowly, add more veggies, then more fiber, and take it from there. You should increase your water intake while increasing your fiber intake, or you could block up your back end if you catch my drift!
Foods to Avoid
This means white flour, white bread, white rice, pastries, sugary sweets; anything that turns into glucose the instant it passes your lips will feed harmful bacteria in your gut and tip the favor towards an unhealthy gut microbiome. No sugar. Period.
It is poisonous to your gut as it can cause it to leak and tear (it’s also stressful for your liver to process). Alcohol has almost no nutritional value (red wine aside), and spirits are especially damaging to your gut.
Red meat takes a long time to digest and will sometimes not digest at all and get stuck on the walls of your gut lining. If it doesn’t get digested within 40 hours plus, it will simply block your intestinal tract. Red meat is notorious as a cause of colon cancer.
Highly Processed Food
Some foods are not even foods and have synthetic products and toxins inside them that your body cannot digest. They may get stuck in your gut or cause inflammation simply because they are poison. Some examples are sausages, minced meat, and vegan imitations. Eat raw, real food, not poison.
If you are lactose intolerant, dairy can cause more inflammation and get your cells on alert. Some sources recommend kefir instead or use non-dairy options – like almond milk or coconut yogurt.
Do a Course in Colon Cleansing
In combination with the foods above, you should do a full cleanse before prolonged dry fasting. If you have problems with constipation, first try the foods above and see this article for foods to ease constipation. But you can use laxatives to start properly cleansing out the bowels. Some options out there include coffee enema and colonic irrigation to cleanse your system out. You can use the methods below, which are more straightforward and can be done at home.
A natural cleanser and detoxifier, this uses oxygen to cleanse the gut, and get the poo out, through a combination of ozonated magnesium and citric acid. A popular brand that many dry fasting practioners talk about is OXY-Powder, which has been around for years. I use it myself, and it’s easy and natural.
Take a course of enterosorbents such as activated charcoal (which you can get at the pharmacy). Some brands are Toxfighter, Carbolen, Varboktin, Gastrosrob, Polyphenanum, Polysorbovit 50, Hitozan, silica gels, Zeolite, Gastal, and even fibers from plants like cereal bran.
Psyllium Husk & Volcanic Clay (Zeolite/Bentonite Clay)
This is a mixture of psyllium husk and volcanic clay powder (Bentonite clay), also known as a P&B shake, to cleanse the colon and toxins. Simply add a teaspoon of psyllium husk with a teaspoon of bentonite clay (medical grade) to water and mix well, drinking it before it gets up. The mix attaches itself to all the toxic and heavy metals in your gut and extracts them. I’ve tried this and found it to be very effective.
Celery Juice Cleanse
Another method is a celery juice cleanse. It has to be cold-pressed celery juice and less than 24 hours since it was made. Best if drunk within 15 mins but it can take a while to make. This is quite a gentle way to regularly get the gunk out in the morning. Try this for a week.
Salt Water Flush
To clean your intestines, you can also use a saltwater flush to unleash everything in your bowels; ideally, you would do this over 2–3 days. First thing in the morning or last thing at night … although you’ll need the bathroom for 3–4 hours.
You can also do a buckwheat porridge fast of eating only buckwheat porridge for 7 days with a tiny bit of salt. Also, take some probiotics to help regrow your gut microbiome.
Cleansing the liver
While you’re cleansing your gut, you also want to cleanse your liver. Your liver has spent years filtering through all kinds of toxins and poisons, including alcohol and drugs, both store-bought and rave-induced. Heck, even tap water can be poisonous. Water itself can be harmful to your body, so dry fast really gives your body a break to heal.
As your liver is a filtration plant, to help it do its job, you want to stop all alcohol, which has been dealing with toxins, from food, drinks, alcohol, and drugs – which can overload the liver with even more toxins.
You can cleanse your liver with milk thistle, turmeric, and dandelion and eat liver-friendly foods like leafy, dark green vegetables.
Herbal medicines, especially from the East, have long been using herbs to help detoxify the body. Many herbs such as turmeric, Indian gooseberry, neem, amla, and milk thistle have successfully been proven to help to protect and regenerate the liver. Check out this study undertaken in 2013 and published in The Journal of Restorative Medicine.
You can read this article in the India Times for more on cleansing the liver.
Highest quality nutrition
The days leading up to a dry fast, especially a longer dry fast, you want the best nutrition, including organic fruits, vegetables and proteins. However, if you can’t get that, then supplementing is your next best option. My recommendation: Fruit Fusion multivitamin and mineral powder. It was designed for prolonged dry fasting refeeding, so it’s literally the best nutrition there is. The list of ingredients has the most potencies I’ve ever seen behind a tub. And, yes, like every good dry fasting prep food, it’s keto, so you’ll slide comfortably into a dry fast.
Including daily probiotic supplements with your meals is a great idea. Eat more probiotics, and the better your gut will be to start with, the easier it will be to go through the dry fasting process. Taking a good probiotic supplement, such as those with over 50 billion in, ensures you get your dose and protects your gut through the process. If you get Fruit Fusion, it has probiotics included.
Adding supplements before your dry fast (and before, and even daily) can be useful when you simply can’t get the healthiest, most organic foods, or want to boost specific dry fasting benefits. I use dry fasting to look and feel younger, however, I also travel a lot, so I don’t always get access to the highest quality nutrition.
My solution is to combine my dry fasting routine with these health and anti-aging supplements to amplify my results with how my body and skin looks and feels. Along with my favourite detox and superfood green juice, of course!
Eating for your dry fast length
Now we get to eating suitable for your fasting type. Of course, you should cleanse, and that depends on how much time you can put into this, but your food choice also matters before you dry fast.
The length of your fast means you need to eat and prepare differently. Your body changes are impacted by how long you dry fast. The longer you dry fast, the more care and prep are needed. (See my article for more on how to prepare for a dry fast.)
Intermittent dry fast
Intermittent dry fasting requires the least amount of pre-fast meal consideration as you’ll be most likely doing it often. You should eat fewer carbs in your last meal, have a smaller portion and make it a high-fat meal, so you have a higher chance of entering ketosis at night and into the morning.
24–36 hours dry fast
Ideally done once a week, you should have already done several water fasts or juice fasts to cleanse your body before doing a 24–36 hour dry fast. The most important part is to make sure you hydrate well the week before your fast and eat vegetarian foods, raw foods 2 days before, so nothing is still digesting in your stomach when you enter the fast. Also, have half your calorific intake the day before your fast, have a high fat last meal, and no dairy. Reduce your caffeine intake as you might get headaches from withdrawal.
3 day dry fast
A week before dry fasting, start eating more raw foods. You should have done several 1–2 day dry fasts before you attempt these longer fasts, as well as proper cleanses as described above. No meat and dairy a week before and slowly eat less food leading up to the dry fast. If you’re looking to lose weight, the last meal should be high in healthy fats and half your calorific intake.
4–5 days dry fast
Do a full-body cleanse way before, including the cleanses proposed at the beginning of the article. Do not attempt an extended dry fast without cleansing your gut and purging your gut, as you could be damaging yourself with the poison released by your gut juices. Juice fast and a predominantly raw vegan diet is recommended for a week before, including foods that easily digestible and high in hydration. No processed foods. Some people do enter the fast on keto (healthy fats) depending on your goals – for instance weight loss, but personally, I prefer entering the fast hydrated, and having juices for these longer fast.
Note: Unless you’re a very advanced faster, dry fast of above 5 days should be done under supervision.
Hopefully, you’re clear on the dos and don’ts of dry fasting food prep! But if you want to learn more about dry fasting protocols for weight loss and age reversal, sign up for my new video course, 25 Again! The Dry Fasting Lifestyle For A Younger, Slimmer You.
***Disclaimer: I am not a doctor/ physician, and although I have a bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Science, I cannot and do not hold myself to be a medical professional (“Medical Provider”). This article does not contain medical /health advice. The medical/ health information here is for general and educational purposes only. It is my opinion, based on my research and personal experience, and not a substitute for professional advice by your health care provider. Please consult with a professional before acting on the information here, and do not disregard medical advice or delay seeking medical attention because of anything you read in this article. THE USE OR RELIANCE OF ANY OF THE INFORMATION ON THIS WEBSITE IS SOLELY AT YOUR OWN RISK.***
- Masako Nakanishi, Yanfei Chen, Veneta Qendro, Shingo Miyamoto, Erica Weinstock, George M. Weinstock and Daniel W. Rosenberg DOI: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-16-0026 Published August 2016
- Ben Salem M, Affes H, Ksouda K, et al. Pharmacological Studies of Artichoke Leaf Extract and Their Health Benefits. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2015;70(4):441-453. doi:10.1007/s11130-015-0503-8
- Ahmed Z, Wang Y, Ahmad A, et al. Kefir and health: a contemporary perspective. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2013;53(5):422-434. doi:10.1080/10408398.2010.540360
- Park KY, Jeong JK, Lee YE, Daily JW 3rd. Health benefits of kimchi (Korean fermented vegetables) as a probiotic food. J Med Food. 2014;17(1):6-20. doi:10.1089/jmf.2013.3083
- Coutinho, Luke. Dry Fasting Miracle. EBURY PR, 2020.
- Filonov, Sergey. 20 Questions & Answers About Dry Fasting . Translated by Vera Giovanna Bani , Siberika , 2019.
- Davis CD. The Gut Microbiome and Its Role in Obesity. Nutr Today. 2016;51(4):167-174. Doi:10.1097/NT.0000000000000167