The Gary Brecka Water Fast: Benefits, How-To, and Real Results

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A growing number of fitness experts and health enthusiasts are touting the benefits of water fasting.

Among them is celebrity trainer Gary Brecka, who has popularized a specific 72-hour water fasting protocol that has garnered attention thanks to its use by UFC President Dana White.

But what exactly is the Gary Brecka Water Fast, what does the science say about its potential benefits, and is it right for you?

Let’s take a deep dive into this fascinating wellness trend.

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What is the Gary Brecka Water Fast?

The Gary Brecka Water Fast is a 72 hour fasting protocol that involves abstaining from all food and caloric beverages, and consuming only water, electrolytes, and optionally bone broth.

Brecka, a longevity expert and founder of the 10X Health System, recommends doing the fast twice per year for optimal cellular cleansing and regeneration.

According to Brecka, the key benefits of a 72 hour water fast may include:

  • Inducing autophagy (cellular clean-up and repair)
  • Promoting stem cell regeneration
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Improving insulin sensitivity
  • Stimulating fat burning and ketone production
  • Boosting human growth hormone levels

Brecka suggests easing into the fast on day 1 by having bone broth at lunch and dinner, along with water containing added electrolytes throughout the day.

On days 2-3, you continue having only water with electrolytes.

Gary Brecka Water Fasting Science

Gary Brecka Water Fasting Science

Proponents of water fasting cite a growing body of scientific research to support the benefits claimed by Brecka and others.

Here are some of the key physiological effects and potential health benefits of water fasting that studies have identified:

Autophagy

A 2018 review in the journal Aging concluded that fasting induces autophagy, the body’s cellular cleansing process, in many organs in response to a lack of nutrients. This may help prevent age-related pathologies.

Stem Cell Regeneration

Brecka explains: “After 72 hours, the evidence is conclusive that your stem cell levels begin to rise and circulate in your bloodstream, and your immune cells are becoming refreshed.”

Reduced Inflammation

A 2019 study in the journal Cell found that a fasting-mimicking diet reduced markers of inflammation and improved measures of intestinal regeneration in both mice and humans.

Insulin Sensitivity

A 2005 study in the Journal of Applied Physiology showed that alternate day fasting resulted in improved insulin sensitivity, as well as reduced belly fat, in healthy men.

Fat Burning & Ketosis

Brecka notes: “In hours 12 to 18, insulin starts to fall and the body is beginning to enter a state of ketosis where it’s shifting from burning sugars to beginning to burn fats.”

While the research on water fasting specifically is limited, these studies suggest that some of the benefits of fasting in general that Brecka and others describe have scientific support.

Related: Gary Brecka Hydrogen Water Recommendation

How to Prepare for a Gary Brecka Water Fast

If you’re considering trying a 72 hour water fast, preparation is key for having a safe and positive experience.

Here’s how you can get started.

1. Consult with your doctor first to make sure fasting is safe for you.

Do not attempt if you have a history of eating disorders or health conditions like diabetes.

2. Gather your supplies:

  • Electrolytes (sodium, potassium, magnesium) to add to your water
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3. Eat a healthy, balanced diet leading up to your fast to ensure proper nutrition.

Don’t binge or drastically change your diet right before.

4. Plan ahead to clear your schedule of any taxing activities or events.

Fasting is a time to rest and recharge.

5. Set your intention and cultivate a positive mindset.

Fasting is as much a mental and spiritual experience as it is physical.

What to Expect During a 72 Hour Water Fast

Here is a general timeline of what you can expect during a 72 hour Gary Brecka-style water fast:

Hours 0-12: You’ll still be digesting your last meal and may feel relatively normal. Focus on hydrating with water and electrolytes.

Hours 12-18: Hunger hormones may kick in as you enter a fasted state. Insulin will start to fall and ketosis may begin. Stay busy to keep your mind off food.

Hours 18-24: Ketosis ramps up and glucagon increases to keep blood sugar stable. Hunger may subside. You might have more energy and focus.

Hours 24-48: Autophagy begins, helping to clear out damaged cellular material. You may experience a boost in mental clarity. Keep drinking water, electrolytes and bone broth if including.

Hours 48-54: Human growth hormone surges to help preserve lean mass and mobilize fat. Inflammation drops. You may feel less hungry.

Hours 54-72: Insulin sensitivity improves and autophagy peaks. Stem cells start to regenerate. You may feel a sense of accomplishment as you near the end.

Of course, everyone’s experience is different, and some people may feel more fatigued, lightheaded, or irritable at times.

Listen to your body, rest as much as possible, and break your fast if you feel unwell.

Dana White Experience with the Gary Brecka Water Fast

Dana White Experience with the Gary Brecka Water Fast

Perhaps the most famous person to publicly document their experience with the Gary Brecka 72-hour water fast is UFC President Dana White.

White has shared that he does the fast a few times per year under the guidance of Brecka.

Describing how he felt after fasting for 86 hours, White said: “I feel like a superhero. I feel incredible…I love doing stuff that tests your will.”

White drinks water with electrolytes as well as bone broth twice a day after the first 24 hours.

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He has continued to work full days and even exercise while fasting.

The physical results are also notable, with White appearing noticeably leaner in before-and-after photos. “It rips you to shreds,” he remarked.

While White’s results are impressive, it’s important to remember that he is under medical supervision and has likely worked up to longer fasts over time.

Is a Gary Brecka Water Fast Right For You?

A 72 hour water fast is not for everyone and should not be attempted without clearance from a physician.

In particular, you should avoid water fasting if you:

  • Are underweight or have a history of eating disorders
  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Have type 1 diabetes, low blood pressure, or a history of heart issues
  • Take certain medications
  • Feel unwell, dizzy, or faint when you skip meals

If you don’t feel ready for a 3 day fast, you can always start with a shorter fast, like 24 hours, or try an intermittent fasting approach instead, such as restricting meals to an 8 hour window each day.

FAQ

What is the Gary Brecka Water Fast?

The Gary Brecka Water Fast is a 72-hour fasting protocol that involves consuming only water, electrolytes, and optionally bone broth. Gary Brecka, a longevity expert, recommends doing this fast twice per year for cellular cleansing and regeneration.

What are the claimed benefits of the Gary Brecka Water Fast?

According to Brecka, the potential benefits of a 72-hour water fast may include:

  • Inducing autophagy (cellular clean-up and repair)
  • Promoting stem cell regeneration
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Improving insulin sensitivity
  • Stimulating fat burning and ketone production
  • Boosting human growth hormone levels

What is allowed during the Gary Brecka Water Fast?

During the fast, you consume only water with added electrolytes (such as sodium, potassium, and magnesium). Brecka recommends having bone broth at lunch and dinner on the first day, then continuing with just water and electrolytes on days 2-3.

How does the Gary Brecka Water Fast compare to other fasting protocols?

The Gary Brecka Water Fast is a type of prolonged water fast, similar to other water fasting protocols. However, Brecka’s approach includes specific recommendations around electrolyte intake and the incorporation of bone broth, which may make the fast easier to tolerate for some people compared to a strict water-only fast.

Has anyone famous tried the Gary Brecka Water Fast?

Yes, UFC President Dana White has publicly shared his experience with the Gary Brecka 72-hour water fast. White does the fast a few times per year under Brecka’s guidance and has reported feeling “like a superhero” and experiencing noticeable physical changes, including looking leaner.

Is the Gary Brecka Water Fast backed by scientific research?

While there is limited research on the specific Gary Brecka Water Fast protocol, some studies have investigated the physiological effects and potential health benefits of water fasting and fasting-mimicking diets in general. These studies have suggested that fasting may induce beneficial processes like autophagy, stem cell regeneration, fat burning, reduced inflammation, and improved insulin sensitivity. However, more research is needed, particularly on the long-term safety and efficacy of water fasting.

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About the Author

Drew Wilkins is a fitness and nutrition expert with a Master's in Biokinesiology (emphasis in Sports Science) from the University of Southern California and over a decade of experience as a personal trainer, nutrition consultant, and wellness coach. An avid surfer and soccer player, he brings a unique perspective to his research, advocating for a balanced approach to health that includes physical fitness, nutrition, and mental well-being.

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