Fasting means to follow a method in which you limit your food intake. You only take restricted food items in smaller portions. This fasting method has been practiced for over thousand years to lose weight.
Water fasting is a type of fast that restricts everything except water. It has become more popular in recent years as a quick way to lose weight. It has benefited more than just weight loss. It decreases the risk of certain disease and enhances the immunity.
There is very limited evidence available on water fasting and its benefits or damages. But one thing that everyone needs to know is that it has various warnings associated with it. So it may not be suitable for everyone.
This article is a guide on water fasting, its working, efficiency, and possible side effects.
What Is Water Fasting?
Water fasting is a specific type of diet in which you eat nothing and only consume water. Most of the people do this water fast for 24 hours or until 72 hours. Any fast longer than 72 hours is dangerous and it may bring health complications.
Weight loss is not the only reason for water fasting. There are many reasons on why people try water fasting. Such as
- Religious offerings
- Spiritual reasons
- Body detox
- Health benefits
- As a part of medicinal treatments
Although the major reason to switch to water fasting is to lose weight or to get health benefits. There is some scientific data to prove that fasting has some incredible health benefits such as it lowers the risk of cardiac diseases, diabetes, and even cancer.
The common dieting ideas such as detox diet, lemon diet etc are modeled on the basis of water fasting. In all such diets, you consume drinks based on water and the respective ingredient i.e. lemon. The water diet brings many disadvantages if you continue it for too long.
How does water fasting work?
There is no particular guideline on starting water diet. Most of the people who start water fasting do not take a medical advice or supervision before starting it. Even with people suffering from diabetes, kidney problems, digestive problems, and old age people go for water fasting.
If you have never done any water fasting before, you should not start it just any day. Take a few days to prepare your body for being without food. Gradually decrease your food intake and start the water diet after some days. It will help you to adopt water diet easily.
What you eat in the water fast?
When you are following water fast, you cannot anything at all. You can also not drink anything other than water. The average consumption of water per day in this diet is two to three liters of water.
You can prolong this water for a minimum of 24 hours and maximum of 72 hours. Duration longer than this needs medical supervision because it may bring health risks. It is normal if you ever feel the weakness of dizzy while on water fasting. Do not do a heavy physical work or drive for long to avoid a misfortunate event.
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Post fast care
You need to follow some precautions once you end water fast. For 1-3 days you should give time for your body to come back to the normal function. After not eating for a few days, eating a large meal while ending a fast may make you uncomfortable.
It is better to break your fast with a small portion of light food or smoothie. You can take the large meals once you get back to eating. This post-fast phase is very important especially when you are following longer fasts.
At this stage, you may be at a risk of refeeding syndrome, which is a fatal condition in which body experiences drastic effects of fluid and electrolytes. The shorter fast, typically that lasts for one day or two days is better to follow.
Are there any benefits of water fasting?
There are so many health benefits associated with water fasting. Some of these are proven by research however not all of them are tested with human studies. Here is a list of possible benefits of water fast.
- It sometimes promotes autophagy.
- It may help to reduce and control the blood pressure.
- It may also play role in insulin and leptin sensitivity.
- It prevents the person from the potential risk of many diseases.
Are there any dangers and risks associated with water fasting?
Although the only reason to do water fasting is to get benefits. But it has a high risk of health concerns too. Following is a list of what may cause a problem while you are water fasting.
Your weight loss may not be effective
Water fast only burns some specific number of calories. You will see lots of weight loss quickly. For most of the people, 0.9-1 kg is the average weight loss per day. Unfortunately, this lost weight is mostly what water makes up inside your body. So the lost weight is only the weight of water content inside your body.
You may suffer from dehydration
This sounds so strange that how could your body be dehydrated when you are taking up just water. It is true because for your body nearly 20% to 30% water comes from the foods and not from just water. If you are not taking food and just consuming water, you may not be getting sufficient water for you.
The signs of dizziness, nausea, constipation, nausea, low BP or fatigue usually represent dehydration. To avoid dehydration to hit you, add sufficient quantity of water in your diet.
You may suffer from severe medical problems
If you are already suffering from a health condition, water fasting is not recommended for you. It will make the problems even worse.
- Orthostatic Hypotension
- Chronic kidney disease
- Eating disorders
Does water fasting burns fat?
For fat burning, water fasting is not a recommended option. But it will give you rapid results by means of weight loss. The weight you will lose will be that comes from water, carbs and muscle mass but you won’t be losing the fat content.
Water fasting needs extreme care and lots of precautions when you already are on the verge of health risks. The good news is that these health risks are easily avoidable for anyone.
If you want to lose weight and also want to get the benefits of fasting, it is better to follow intermittent fasting and not water fasting. It makes you lose weight and only allows you to eat food after at specific intervals of time.
Water fasting is one of the most popular methods of fasting that sometimes has some health benefits too. However, most of the health benefits of water fasting are based on animal studies and not on human studies. There are chances that for humans, the result may not be the same.
There are several risks with water fasting. Especially when you want to go for longer fasts, or have medical conditions but still, want to fast. Forgetting all the benefits of fasting, it is better to follow other types of fast such as intermittent fasting, which allows you to eat food too. Water fast is only advisable for short duration and that too for healthy people only.