What Are The Risks
Water fasting, even with the impressive benefits, isnt without risk. Most of the risk factors can be negated through common sense so read through this list before you consider starting a water fast.
- You can lose more than just fat. This one is impossible to mitigate since you cant choose where your body sources its fuel but since a water fast is very brief, this isnt likely to cause any long term side effects. If you have been working hard on building significant muscle mass, just know that a water fast may burn up some of that hard-earned muscle.
- You may become dehydrated. It may seem counterintuitive, but you can develop dehydration while on a water fast. Depending on your diet, up to 30% of your water intake can come from the foods you eat. By limiting your food intake, youre decreasing the amount of water you take in each day. If you feel dehydrated simply drink more water.
- You may experience orthostatic hypotension. This is the headrush you sometimes experience when getting up quickly, or bending down to pick something up off the floor. Caused by a drop in blood pressure, orthostatic hypotension can occur more during a water fast, so just be careful when sitting or standing quickly.
Fill The Water Bottles Every Morning
The easiest way for you to actually stick with actually drink the recommended amount every day, is to fill the bottles with the daily amount of water every morning.
If you fill three 32 oz / 1 liter bottles and place them on your kitchen counter, they will serve as a nice visual reminder of how much water you have to get through by the end of each day.
Just try to drink down all the water slowly and evenly throughout the day.
And if you forget about it during the day, don’t drink 3 liters at once in the evening
Personally, I don’t think we really need to drink that much water during a water fast, mostly because we aren’t eating any dry or dehydrating foods.
In blunt words of one of my readers, drinking the recommended daily amount of water during a water fast will make you “piss like a racehorse”.
But who am I to go against the official recommendations .
Now, let’s take a look at another unpleasant thing that can catch you off guard as you try to do a water fast.
Danger Of Medical Complications
People with certain conditions can experience drastic disturbances in their bodys acid/base balance by fasting for an extended period of time on just water . People with such medical conditions as diabetes, kidney disease, hypothyroidism, chronic infections and ulcers should avoid water fasting altogether! If you are taking any medications or have an ongoing health problem that requires medication speak with your healthcare provider before attempting a long duration fast.
The Transformational Benefits Of Fasting
I am a huge fan of both intermittent and extended fasts. The main benefits you get from an extended fast that go beyond what you get with intermittent fasting or time restricted feeding include greater levels of autophagy and human growth hormone release and increases in stem cells within all the tissues of the body .
These benefits allow the body to heal and repair older cells, tissues and organs at a much higher and deeper level than intermittent fasting. Everyone can benefit from one or two extended fasts each year to allow the body to break down older, weaker cellular components and rebuild new and healthier cells.
Those who stand to benefit the most from extended water fasting include individuals suffering from the following:
Metabolic Syndrome Diabetes and Obesity
You can read about all the benefits of living a fasting lifestyle where you incorporate both intermittent and extended fasting strategies in this article.
The Potential Dangers And Risks Of Water Fasting
While wed never deny the benefits of a good water fast, we also cant ignore that there are potential downsides. Like we discussed in the section about water fasting side effects, some people may experience stronger, even more dangerous symptoms while water fasting. Others wont.
This is why we always advise you to see your doctor ahead of your scheduled water fast. If youre on a medication or have a condition that prevents you from fasting, please dont push ahead anyway. You may be able to do a medically supervised water fast, but that would be your only option.
Here are some warning signs that will tell you its time to stop water fasting ASAP.
What To Expect When Youre Water Fasting
Well, youll probably get hungry. Youll also want to pay attention to how much water youre drinking. You will rapidly lose some fluid as your body burns through its carbohydrate stores, so make sure to drink up.
Some of the changes in your body may make you have to pee A LOT, especially early in your fast and if youre drinking more water than usual.
You may experience some side effects while fasting, including:
Fasting For A Purpose: A Five Day Water Fast
You have decided to embark on your first five-day water fast! Congratulations! You may be experiencing many fears surrounding this. These fears are mainly because of all the unknowns. How will l feel? What can I expect each day? My best advice is to set your healing intentions and write them down. Focus on them, and truly believe that this is going to help you on your journey to feeling amazing!
Start the practice of self-control with some penance begin with fasting. Mahavira
In this piece, we are going to focus primarily on the positive changes occurring in your body each of the five days, and we will mention some of the symptoms you may experience, so you know what you are feeling is expected. This will hopefully help to motivate you and keep you going throughout the five days! Keep in mind that everyone experiences different symptoms.
If a full-on water fast seems too intimidating for you, we have another option to help you ease into fasting. Its called The Fasting Mimicking Diet. With this option, you are provided with the right amount of food to mimic fasting, and you still get many of the health benefits associated with fasting.
Join my FB group: Fasting for a Purpose. You can expect to receive an abundance of knowledge and support. It is a great place to share your journey with hundreds of other people who are also embarking on either a water fast or the Fasting Mimicking Diet, just like you! Have faith, stay strong, and read on!
What Are The Risks Of Water Fasting
Research published in the journal BMC Complementary Medicine Therapies showed that the most common adverse events from water fasting include:
- Quality of life problems like fatigue
- Heart problems like high blood pressure
- Musculoskeletal problems like arthritis
- Gastrointestinal problems like colitis, gastritis, and constipation
- Endocrine problems like thyroid trouble or diabetes
- Neurological problems like headache, neuropathy, and dizziness
- Urologic and renal problems
- Psychiatric problems like depression and anxiety
- Pulmonological problems like inflammation, labored breathing, and infection
Two people in the studies analyzed required hospitalization, one with severe dehydration and another with dangerously low sodium levels.
In a recent study of middle-aged men from Poland who did an eight-day water fast, patients lost weight and perceived a reduction in stress, but their bodies experienced some negative consequences including dehydration, low sodium levels, low blood sugar levels, and an increase in uric acid in their blood.
The study authors concluded: Therefore, for the safety of middle-aged people subjected to eight-day water fast, it is recommended to discontinue such intervention, as it is a drastic form of fasting that already begins to generate unfavorable symptoms for a healthy person.”
Preparing Your Body Ahead Of Time:
I find that building your fasting fitness through intermittent fasting is one of the best daily activities you can do to improve your health and then periodically undergoing an extended water fast is a fantastic health improvement and maintenance approach to take into life.
There can be a lot of discomfort when you first begin fasting as your body has to make a lot of metabolic adaptations and we are so emotionally and neurologically driven to feed. Many people have physical and emotional addictions to food and this can be very challenging to deal with in the early phases of fasting.
There are certain things you should do to prepare your mind and body for the fast so you can have the best experience possible. You can read about those things in the graphic below and in more detail in this article.
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Words Of Advice On Those Tracking Ketones:
Dont use urine ketone strips for accurate ketone measurements. Remember, your body is now using your ketones, so they wont show in the urine. Ketones circulating in the blood may climb up at first, and then lower some as you are actually utilizing them in your body. Breath ketones are better because it shows the oxidized ketones or ketones you are actually using. You may notice ketones in your urine in the beginning, but remember your brain starts using them, so you dont want to keep seeing them in your urine as you progress through the fast.
Your glucose to ketone ratio should be at a 1:1 ratio today. Tumors started shrinking massively with a 1:1 glucose to ketone ratio. This ratio also helps to achieve higher levels of autophagy. Sometimes ketones will register high, and glucose will be lower. Stress can raise glucose, but you should see a trending down of glucose and rise of ketones.
As for glucose, according to keto researcher Prof. Thomas Seyfried, the target zone is when glucose numbers are in the 60s with ketones 3.0 mmol/L or more. Hitting the target zone is telling towards the destruction of bad cells. If these numbers are showing up, the body is cleansing those bad cells in just fashion.
Can You Exercise When Water Fasting
All this talk about muscles brings us to another good question. If youre not consuming any calories, such as on a water fast, is it a good idea to exercise?
Yes, you can, and in fact, you should! As we mentioned, your human growth hormone or HGH hormones increase, allowing for the synthesizing of muscle proteins. The lack of insulin spikes can also keep your muscle mass intact.
You may even be able to increase the amount of fat you burn and derive some natural energy from the experience.
While all this sounds great, you shouldnt hit the gym with all the intensity you would if you were on a regular diet. Remember that lightheadedness and exhaustion are two main side effects of water fasting, as is mental fogginess. If youre not comfortable with exercising and youre only on a water fast for 24 hours, then by all means, dont.
What if you do want to get a bit of fitness into your day? It would be a very good distraction from your hunger, after all. Its recommended you stick to light weightlifting and low-intensity cardio. As Peter Attia proved, this preserves your muscle mass while triggering fat burning, giving you the best of both worlds.
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How To Prepare A Water Fast & Tips
Water fasts typically last 24 to 72 hours, but medically supervised water fasts may last longer. For your safety, you should not try to fast without medical clearance and supervision.
Because it is not a practice that is widely endorsed by the mainstream medical or nutritional community, there are no uniform guidelines for water fasting. Most of the available tips and practices come from first-person accounts of fasts shared by advocates without any medical or nutritional credentials.
There are a limited number of alternative medicine clinics that offer supervised water fasts. Many who undergo water fasting in a clinic environment begin the process with a referral from their healthcare provider.
Though water fasting is simple, that doesnt mean its easy or safe.
In a clinical environment, patients are monitored regularly for signs of distress such as a foul taste in the mouth, lower back pain, skin rashes, discharges from mucous membranes, headaches, irritability, nausea, or vomiting. Regular blood and urine tests are also performed.
Many who perform water fasts at home do so without professional support and without the safety net provided by medical supervision. Because it is a fairly straightforward process, people may follow instructions found online or in magazines.
Though water fasting is simple, that doesnt mean its easy or safe. During a fast, you cant consume anything but water. You generally drink at least 2 to 3 liters of water per day .
How To Break The Fast:
My general rule on breaking an extended water fast is to add up the amount of days you fasted and divide by 2. Give yourself that many days before adding back harder to digest foods such as raw veggies, meat and eggs.
The first meal when you break your fast should be a protein shake with high quality ingredients, possibly bone broth or vegetable broth and a fermented drink like coconut water kefir. Here is a helpful infographic to guide you.
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Create A Low Stress Schedule:
A high level of stress is the biggest thing that derails people from having success on a fast. Schedule yourself very light so you have plenty of time to rest throughout the fast. If you have a stressful job, it is a good time to take a vacation or work on a limited basis during the fast.
This is especially important during the first fast as that is typically the most challenging. After you develop your fasting muscles, it is actually quite helpful to be busy during your fast because you think less about eating and you are more productive when your body is running on a high level of ketones.
If you are in a very stressful season of life, it may not be the best time to do extended water fasting. If you are needing to do it to get a health breakthrough than do your best to meditate and pray and find ways to reduce the stressors you have control over before you begin the fast.
Additionally, take time each day to slow your breathing and take long deep breaths. Short shallow breaths stimulate a fight or flight physiology that triggers more stress hormones and blocks the body from healing and repairing itself. Long deep breaths stimulate the part of our physiology the activates the healing response.
Get Sunshine Each Day If Possible:
Getting as much of your body in the sun as possible is extremely beneficial. Dont burn your skin, but getting a bit of a suntan will help stimulate vitamin D and enhance your fat burning physiology to get into ketosis faster.
In addition, sunshine has powerful biophotons that help to reduce stress hormones and stimulate the production of feel good neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine and endorphins that will greatly improve your fasting experience.
This is another reason to take a beach vacation for your first fast if you are able too. Obviously, this isnt an option for many and you can still get great results water fasting without regular sun exposure but it certainly does help make it a more comfortable experience.
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How Can I Prepare Beforehand To Make My Fast Easier
Eat healthily. If youre addicted to sugar and refined grains, youre going to be fighting that addiction as well as hunger during your fast. Thats super tough, so the more you can kick your refined carb addiction before your fast, the better. You do this by eating whole, unprocessed foods, and a diet high in naturally occurring fats .
Eat irregularly. As explained in the answer to Wont I feel hungry? the more irregularly you eat the more you kill off the hormones that make you feel hungry.
Find a friend. Dr. Fung doesnt mention it in his book, but what works for me too is to find a friend to join you on your fast-inating journey. They provide support and accountability and celebrate with you after.
Clear your calendar. You probably want to avoid dinner parties and lunch meetings. Stick to going for coffee or tea with friends.
Drink The Recommended Daily Amount
Whether you’re doing a water fast or any other diet, you’d do well to follow the official guidelines on drinking water.
So, the officially recommended water intake for adult men stands at about 3 liters / 99 fl oz of water per day.
Women, on the other hand, should drink about 2.5 liters / 80 fl oz of water every day.
Since you won’t be eating or drinking anything else during a fast, this means you won’t be getting in any fluids from juices, soups, watery foods, etc.
Which is why it makes total sense to get the full recommended daily amount of water by actually drinking water.
Here’s a handy tip you can keep in mind in case you ever decide to actually do a water fast.
Recommended Reading: What To Eat To Lose Weight While Fasting
What Is Water Fasting: All You Need To Know
Fasting has been used as one of the ways to manage weight for thousands of years. Fasting, in simple words, means restriction of food or certain kinds of foods for some time.
Water fasting is a new health trend that people are taking up to lose weight faster. Some studies have shown that water fasting can indeed be helpful for the human body.
However, the confusion about water fast and how one should go about it while staying healthy is pretty common. Water fasting, although very popular in the health and wellness world, should be followed with caution.
So, let us discuss the pros and cons of water fasting and the right way to do it.