5 Proven Benefits of Water Fasting

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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When you undergo water fasting, you may be able to see remarkable results, but you also need to follow strict guidelines to stay safe and healthy.

What is Water Fasting?

Water fasting is an extremely strict form of fasting in which you consume only water and no calories for a limited period of time. The theory behind this nutritional deprivation is to help the body reset or revitalize certain processes and functions, which can help in the management and treatment of certain conditions. Furthermore, an extreme calorie reduction (down to zero) can have rapid effects on your weight and metabolism.

This approach to health is also quite controversial for many reasons since there are those experts who argue that the body is a nearly perfect machine that doesn’t require “rebooting”. The lack of nutrients for days at a time can also be potentially dangerous and comes with a number of possible side effects. That being said, water fasting has become a practice in numerous parts of the world for various purposes. Since this trend isn’t going away, it is best to understand what it can do, how to do it safely, and what methods you can employ to have the best effects.

Water Fasting Benefits

Water fasting helps in weight loss, lowering blood pressure, slowing the aging process, and insulin regulation, among others. Let us look at these benefits in detail.

Weight Loss

You create a massive calorie deficit every day that you perform a water fast, so there can be up to two pounds of weight loss per day, particularly in the first day or two. However, the weight loss will taper off after this point.

Aging Process

Intermittent fasting has been shown to slow down the aging process and kick start the antioxidant activities within the body, helping to reduce chronic disease, as well as cut down on inflammation.

Blood Pressure

Reducing the number of variables in your diet, and ensuring that the body can flush itself of toxins and “reset” a few systems, can also help to drop blood pressure, which will reduce strain on the cardiovascular system.

Diabetes

Studies have found that water fasting can make the body more sensitive to certain hormones in the body that trigger the release of glucose and insulin, thus helping to prevent or better manage diabetes.

Chronic Disease

While the chemical pathway isn’t fully understood, there is a correlation between temporary water fasting and a reduced risk of chronic disease.

How to Do a Water Fast?

If you are determined to do a water fast, the first thing you should do is consult with your doctor about whether it would be a wise health choice, given your pre-existing conditions or risk factors. If this is the first time you are doing a fast, start with a short time frame (no more than a day or two), as you will be more likely to be successful and can measure the efficacy of your approach. Be sure that your house is well stocked with water (of different varieties, not just tap water), and then begin.

The first two days will be difficult, but the results can be impressive. More importantly, however, is how you get off a water fast. It is important to re-introduce food slowly and make it easily digestible things, like soft fruit and yogurt. Gradually reintroduce other foods after your fast, in moderation, to avoid stomach upset.

Water Fasting Tips

There are a number of tips to consider before you begin your water fast that include the following:

  • Telling your friends about your fast to hold you accountable
  • Ensuring that you get enough rest every day and fill up your time with fulfilling activities
  • It will be very easy to steal a snack or two when the hunger pangs set in, but be confident that you can do this, and the benefits will be worth it.
  • Without a normal energy reserve of calories, however, you won’t have as much energy to do things each day, so try to minimize your energy output.
  • Finally, in place of eating, find other activities to take your mind off your growling stomach, such as books, movies, a new hobby, yoga, meditation or journaling.

Dangers and Risks of Water Fasting

There are a number of risks to water fasting, which makes the practice particularly controversial, such as rapid weight regain, dehydration, and orthostatic hypotension, to name a few.

  • False Weight Loss: The rapid weight loss seen with water fasting is often largely water weight, which the body can quickly regain following the end of the fast, leading to disappointment.
  • Dehydration: As contrary as it might sound, the increased urination due to the excessive water consumption may actually lead the body to become dehydrated on this particular diet.
  • Orthostatic Hypotension: Some people have reported dangerous drops in blood pressure when on this diet, which can lead to irregular heart function and other dangerous side effects.
  • Physical Side Effects: Without nutrients, you are likely to experience fatigue and lethargy, as well as muscle weakness and slow cognitive function. This will all stop once you reintroduce normal calories into your diet.
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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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