A lot of people have been talking about “water fasting” as a quick way to shed some unwanted weight. It’s like taking the weight loss game to the extreme because water fasting involves zero food consumption during the duration that it is undertaken. Water fasting is considered apt for people who want to see quick and fast results. However, it’s not easy as it sounds – your body is deprived of all food during such kind of fasting and though it promises fast results, there are a few risks involved and we will talk about them in detail in this article. When you embark on any diet or weight loss program, you should without fail, consult a physician and proceed according to his/her opinion.
What is Water Fasting?
Coming back to water fasting, we would like to stress the fact that any kind of a fasting allows the body to detox and heal itself. In fact, fasting is considered as a part of spiritual cleansing and most religions in the world advocate fasting for general and spiritual well being. In water fasting, you are not supposed to eat or drink anything except plain water. Water fasting can be considered a form of intermittent fasting where one goes without food for two days in a week, but the major difference is that intermittent fasting allows you to consume up to 500 calories and other beverages like green tea, apple cider vinegar, and coffee, water fasting gives you no such liberty. Just like intermittent fasting, water fast also triggers autophagy, where the body makes use of damaged cells and repairs and rejuvenates itself. Most people typically undertake water fasting for up to 72 hours, but not beyond that.
How is Water Fast Different From Intermittent Fasting?
Comparing it with intermittent fasting, there’s no feeding window in water fasting and no other beverages are allowed during the fasting period. Intermittent fasting lets you allow coffee, green tea, ACV, and sparkling water. Intermittent fasting lowers down your calorie intake whereas during water fast, you calorie level comes down to zero. There are lesser risks with intermittent fasting compared to water fasting where side effects are more.
Benefits of Water Fasting:
1. Autophagy: Dysfunctional and damaged cells are utilized by the body and that means your body goes into “deep cleansing” or “spring cleaning” mode. Autophagy gets rid of damaged cells that in future may pose danger to your health and lead to diseases like cancer and heart disease.
2. Weight Loss: Since you are consuming no calories at all, your body turns to stored glycogen and fat to run its daily functions. And that means, you would able to drop weight quickly. Also, weight gain due to water retention also drops and it will show up on your weighing scale. Studies have showed that you can lose up to 1 kg each day through water fasting though it may also mean that you can lose some muscle mass.
3. Improvement in insulin resistance: Though insulin is a hormone which helps cells to utilize sugar, it is also a hormone that causes body to store excess sugar as fat. With excess sugar in the body, cells become resistant to insulin and as a result, there’s a lot sugar in the blood leading to inflammation and diseases. Water fasting helps the body to become insulin sensitive and helps improve the efficiency of this hormone.
4. Detox: We seek different ways to detoxify our body – from gulping down concoctions to consuming pills, however, with water fasting, detox is guaranteed and our body is able to get rid of toxins effectively.
Is it Safe to do Water Fasting?
There is limited data available on water fasting and there are certain issues associated with water fasting. The first and most important thing to remember is that water fasting cannot be done for a prolonged period of time because the body would eventually need fuel to run itself and consuming just water would not help. The maximum time that you can do water fasting is for up to 3 days, not more than that. Side effects may include brain fog (a temporary state where you cannot concentrate or think with clarity), lightheadedness, dizziness, lethargy, headaches, low blood pressure, etc. One should also avoid driving and operating heavy machinery while water fasting. People who are diabetic and with high blood pressure may experience fluctuations in their blood sugar and pressure levels respectively. If you suffer from gastric disorders like GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), water fasting may worsen the condition because of excess production of gastric acids with just water to digest.
Proper Way To Water Fasting:
- First and most importantly, you should seek advice of your doctor about water fasting. People who suffer from chronic kidney and heart disorders should refrain from such a diet.
- Determine the time frame that you want to do the fast – you can either choose 24 hours, 48 hours or 72 hours. Set a timer to remind yourself when to end the fast.
- Drink at least 3 to 4 liters of water per day, timing each glass of water through the day. Do not mix anything in the water. Whenever you feel hungry or thirsty, sip water and relax.
What Group of people should stay away from Water Fasting?
Pregnant women, children, people with heart disease, kidney disease, people with morbid disorders should not embark on water fasting. Intermittent fasting is a much safer option for such groups.
Will Water Fasting Reduce Belly Fat?
Though water fasting does help in reducing some amount of weight and that too quickly, it does not guarantee spot reduction of fat or inch reduction from the waist. The drop in weight may come from no water retention and drop in muscle mass.
What is the healthy alternative to Water Fasting?
Think no further, intermittent fasting is the healthiest and safest way to lose weight without aggravating existing medical conditions or inviting new complications. What’s more, you would get the same benefits as water fasting without any major risks involved.