Water fasting is a period when a person eats no food and drinks only water. Fasting in this way may help with weight loss, but is it safe, and do the effects last long-term?
People may undertake water fasting to lose weight, for spiritual or religious reasons, or to try and combat particular health problems. Research suggests that occasional fasting may help with weight loss, although other methods may be more effective long-term.
True water fast maintains a zero caloric intake. This means water only, nothing added to it. Some call water fasting the only “true” fast and believe that any food allowed into the bodily system prevents the complete resting state desired, compromising the level of cleansing and detox attained. While it is true that water fasting is the most intense path to detoxification and therapeutic benefit, other types of fasting, and even cleansing diets, detox and heal as well. What differs is the intensity and speed of the experience.
Let me tell you first, a little about the theory of sickness. Every day we do a variety of things: breathe air that is not so pure, drink liquids that are not so good, etc., which eventually clogs our body filters, such as the lungs, nose, liver, and kidneys. Over time, our bodies heat up and then the immune system gets knocked down. Fevers actually make the body sweat out toxins and trigger the urge to not eat, a natural fast. Three to four days of water fasting is good in such times. This will help clean out your system.
So should you allow your body to just go through this natural process of getting really sick and going through pain in order to thoroughly cleanse the system? Well, if you are cleaning the filters on a regular basis by doing water fast, there is no need to get sick.
Who can fast:
Water fasts are advised for those who can handle several days of intense calorie deprivation. Individuals who have taken a 2-day fast earlier would find it easier to take a 4-day or 7-day fast. Hence, beginners can start with a 2-day water fast. Patients with medical issues require medical consultation before embarking on this plan.
Obese people trying to lose weight can take the fast and observe immediate results. Although, it is necessary to note that the lost pounds might return once the calories come back into your diet.
How safe is it?
Although there are potential health benefits to fasting, there are considerable risks if a fast is carried out for too long, or by someone whose health or age puts them at risk of damage to their body.
If someone has health concerns, or is planning to fast for longer than 24 hours, they should seek the advice of a medical professional and consider undertaking a fast under supervision.
Water fasting will not be safe for everyone, and should not be undertaken by older adults, those under 18, or those who are underweight.
Fasting is a personal journey–you are not competing with anyone. Your body dictates how long you can safely fast, not your head.
After the first few days, hunger disappears and one may feel very energetic. You may feel like even playing some games or going for a jog. But at this stage, refrain from heavy activities and stick to light activities like walking in the woods, reading, watching television, watering the plants, shopping, etc.
Sometimes you may feel very energetic and the very next moment you may feel weak. Your blood pressure can drop and make you feel dizzy. Such fluctuations are common and there is nothing to worry about. Just keep your doctor posted about your body reactions.
Water fasting also comes with several risks, especially if you fast for longer than three days or have medical conditions like gout, chronic kidney disease or diabetes. If you want the health benefits of fasting, try safer methods like intermittent fasting and alternate-day fasting. These fasts allow you to eat some food, which makes them easier to follow long-term.