We often come across advice and warnings like eating this may harm our health or consuming that may increase our weight. Despite this, we generally have foods and drinks harmful to our health. When we realize that our eating or drinking habits are hurting us, the following question comes to mind:
What should I do now?
Don’t worry, there are ways to mitigate the side effects of harmful diets. The most feasible solution is healthy wholesome eating, combined with fasting. Today, we might only be aware of fasting before a blood test. Though the forms and types of fasting have changed over time, the purposes and benefits of fasting are still the same.
Nowadays intermittent, water, and autophagy fasting are the most practiced types of fasting. Of the three, in this article we explore some important things about water fasting.
What Does Water Fasting Mean?
Water fasting is the type of fasting where we do not consume anything except water. Depending upon our fasting experience, we may undertake fasts for the following duration(s):
- 12 hours fasting
- 24 hours or 1-day fasting
- 48 hours or 2 days fasting
- 72 hours or 3 days fasting
- 5 days fasting
- 7 days or 1 week fasting
- 14 days or 2 weeks fasting
- 28 days or 4 weeks fasting (this type is also known as a 1-month water fast)
The right approach to fasts is by planning, and gradually easing into fasting. Our planning would include the duration and purpose of fasting. The commonest purpose is to lose weight and the duration often varies from person to person.
Why Water Fast?
Our inspiration behind a fast might be our family members, friends, or stories about the health benefits of fasting. Health experts say this kind of information is not enough to undertake fasting. When exploring fasting, look at the advantages when backed by facts. Here are some of them:
- Fasting reduces hypertension. The American scientists got success after analyzing the results of Medically supervised water-only fasting in the treatment of borderline hypertension. This study involved 68 volunteers and the blood pressure of 82% of them reduced after medically supervised fasting.
- It promotes Autophagy and reduces risks of toxins buildup in our body. Autophagy is a natural process of our bodies to eliminate waste produced by damaged cells or dysfunctional components. These details are available in this report – Autophagy and intermittent fasting: the connection for cancer therapy?
- Water fasting reduces the risk of obesity and diabetes. There are leptin and insulin hormones in our body to regulate hunger and the level of blood sugar. Early Time-Restricted Feeding Improves Insulin Sensitivity, Blood Pressure, and Oxidative Stress Even without Weight Loss in Men with Prediabetes.
- It protects our heart. By fasting once or twice a week, our body gets fewer calories and we lose weight. This, in turn, reduces the risks of heart diseases. For more, see: Improvement in coronary heart disease risk factors during an intermittent fasting/calorie restriction regimen: Relationship to adipokine modulations.
- It keeps chronic diseases at bay. A study on 30 healthy volunteers resulted that the levels of triglycerides and cholesterol decreased after a 24 hour water fast. Not to mention, higher levels of both these components are responsible for heart disease. More information is available here: Randomized cross-over trial of short-term water-only fasting: metabolic and cardiovascular consequences.
Spiritual Context of Water Fasting
The relationship between fasting and spiritual beliefs is centuries old. Hindus do it on Trayodashi (the thirteenth day of the lunar fortnight of the Hindu calendar). It is believed that fasting on this day removes bad karma or sins. The worshippers or followers of Vishnu fast on Ekadashi (the eleventh day of the lunar fortnight).
Those affected by the malefic effects of Saturn fast on Saturday and those affected by Mars fast on Tuesday. The link between religious beliefs and fasting also exists outside Hinduism. Almost all religions of the world including Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, and others have a connection between fasting and spiritual beliefs.
When we live closer to our spirituality, that is outside of any religious belief, we gain a closer understanding of ourselves.
Fasting adds to our confidence and inner strength.
Water Fasting Tips
When you are new to fasting rather ease into fasting. This is achieved by practicing intermittent fasting, or a 1-day water fast and observe the results. Below are some important tips related to fasting:
- It is not good to drink large amounts of water during the fast. It causes essential salts to flush out of our bodies. To accommodate the loss of salts, add sea salt to the water at least once or twice a day.
- Consider the water quality you drink during the fast. It should definitely not be tap water. Regular tap water may contain chlorine, fluoride, or other dangerous chemicals.
- True water fast means consuming nothing except water. Anything other than water triggers the internal process of our body and breaks our fast.
- Depending on our experience with water fasting, avoid all kinds of demanding exercises during fasting. When we sweat excessively, essential salts are lost.
- In addition to benefits, certain risks are also linked to water fasting. We may become dehydrated, our blood pressure may drop, and our medical condition (if any) may worsen.
- It is essential to rest during the fast. There is no need to do extreme activities because our body is already in the process of taking out harmful toxins. We risk the benefits of water fast by working hard during this period.
- We may get extra support and motivation if we practice the fast with a friend. There are Facebook groups containing information and motivation about fasting. Use these groups, if necessary, for motivation. For information and queries, a trusted source like a doctor is the best.
- It is important to consult a doctor if we are suffering from a disease or medical condition. The doctor may ask for certain lab tests and provide necessary precautions. He/she may also provide the correct way to do the fast after seeing the test results. Do not forget to confirm whether the test requires fasting or not.
Frequently Asked Questions
The prevalence of water fasting signifies people want to know more about it. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about a water fast:
1. Does water fasting mean no water?
No, it means not consuming anything except water for a fixed time. This fixed period is often of 12 hours, 24 hours, 48 hours or longer.
2. What are the common forms of water fast?
Water fasting has three common forms. They are:
- Plain Water Fast
This is the simplest form of water fast where we consume only water for a predetermined period.
- Lemon Water Fast
In lemon water fast, we drink lemon flavored water instead of plain water. Lemon fast enhances our concentration and provides relief in diarrhea or constipation.
- Salt Water Fast
When we drink only water by mixing a pinch or two of sea salt in it for a predefined period. This kind of water fast helps in the retention of fluids and the balancing of essential salts in our body.
3. How to break a water fast?
The process of breaking a water fast is as important as practicing it. The simplest way to break the fast is by consuming orange juice, lemon juice and avocado. Avoiding solid food for a few days and continue consuming liquid such as green juices. Then we’re ready to eat small amounts of easily digestible food items like salads and soups.
4. What to eat after a water fast to sustain your healthy condition?
Whether we fast for short or long-term, a common concern is how to introduce food after the fast. The key is to eat easy to digest cooked and fermented food items first. They supply essential and easily absorbable nutrients to our body.
5. How much weight would you lose during a water fast?
There is no doubt that fasting leads to weight loss. The duration, shorter or longer fasts, also matters when it is about losing weight from a fast.
How much weight can you lose on a water fast depends on several things? Though water fasting weight loss results are different from person to person. Weight loss is significant though, expect around one kilogram per day.
6. How long is it safe for an obese person to go without food?
The records say that in 1965, an obese person lived without food for more than a year. This was just a record and if we want to remain without food, consult a doctor. It is always wise to consult a medical practitioner before fasting, especially while you are uncertain or unfamiliar with fasting.
7. What is advisable and not advisable during a water fast?
The things we may consume during the fast are:
- Water flavored with lime, tea, coffee
- Apple cider vinegar
- Sea salts
- Essential vitamins
The things to avoid during the fast are:
- Diet Coke
- Other zero calorie misleading drinks
- Added sugar
The Bottom Line
There are many health and spiritual benefits of water fasting. We need to be patient to get the desired fast weight loss results. Our body takes time to adjust and most of the time the recovery is we’re stronger than before the fast. It is important to remember our purpose during the whole journey of fasting and water fasting.
Another benefit is that we learn when we eat because we need food, or for emotional and self-confidence reasons.
Note, though this is a long video, and boring in places, it is jam packed with fasting information and insights.
You learn about water fasting. How much weight loss to expect, and also dive into the additional benefits and science.