Water fasting is an effective, short-term plan to help you detox your body and shed some extra weight. As the name suggests, while water fasting, you consume nothing but water. This fast has several health benefits; however, it may not be suitable for everyone. Keep reading to find out if it works for you.
What Is Water Fasting?
Water fasting is quite common and people from various communities across the globe have been observing it for religious and spiritual purposes for a long time. Recently, it has gained a lot of attention for its health benefits. Water fasting involves drinking nothing but water for a specified period. This fasting approach suggests abstaining from eating or drinking anything for a day or two.
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Benefits Of Water Fasting
Here are the top 5 benefits of water fasting:
- Quicker Weight Loss: Water fasting helps lose weight faster than other approaches. When you consume nothing except water, the body does not have any carbs for energy. Thus, it starts burning stored fat as fuel, which leads to weight loss.
- Reduces Risk Of Diseases: Water fasting can lessen risks of heart disease, blood pressure and Type-2 diabetes. According to a study with 174 participants, 90% of them experienced their low blood pressure get back to normal after water fasting for 10 to 11 days on average.
- May Prevent Cancer Growth: Water fasting at regular intervals helps in a process known as autophagy, which involves the breakdown of old cells in the body. This could help prevent cancer growth and extend your life span.
- Detoxifies The Body: Water fasting gives your body a much-needed break from toxins in foods and unwanted calories and thoroughly cleanses the system. In the absence of food, it also helps the body eliminate toxic by-products. Moreover, fasting significantly impacts the hormones insulin and leptin, which helps regulate hunger and unwanted cravings.
- Reduces Stress: Research shows that water fasting also reduces oxidative stress on the body and improves overall health.
How To Water Fast?
Experts suggest that water fasting once a week to detox your body is ideal. If you want to lose weight, you can do it for two days at the most for calorie restriction. If it is your first time, make sure you consult an expert to prepare your body for the fast.
Water fasting is relatively simple, where you need to drink an adequate amount of water at regular intervals. You must aim to drink 9-15 glasses of water a day and avoid heavy physical activity while on the fast. If you experience dizziness, extreme fatigue or hunger, you must stop immediately.
After the water fast, start by eating a light meal and gradually increase the meal sizes.
Possible Health Risks Of Water Fasting
Water fasting comes with certain risks if not done correctly. Hence, it is best to do it under the supervision of an expert.
Be warned of the following possibilities if you wish to water fast.
- Water fasting may not be the healthiest form of fasting as you tend to lose weight quickly, which often includes muscle mass.
- It may sound shocking, but water fasting could lead to dehydration. The food we consume makes up about 30 to 40% of your daily water intake and keeps you hydrated. Thus, consuming only water may also lead to dizziness and nausea.
- Orthostatic hypotension is where you experience a quick drop in blood pressure when you suddenly stand up and commonly occurs among people who are water fasting.
- Water fasting may increase the production of uric acid in the body, thereby increasing the risk of gout attacks.
- The absence of food may lead to a sudden fall in sugar levels in the body and could make you feel lethargic.
- Water fasting is likely to aggravate eating disorders and promote unhealthy eating habits.
- Extreme calorie restriction during water fasting might increase digestive discomfort and nausea.
- Consuming just water may lead to nutritional deficiencies in some individuals, which could hamper the body’s normal functioning. Some may even have trouble focussing or doing basic tasks.
- Hyponatremia or water intoxication is a condition where sodium concentration in the blood is diluted and occurs when the amount of water intake exceeds the kidney’s ability to eliminate water.
- Since water fasting restricts eating altogether, you may be tempted to binge eat once the fast is over.
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Who Should Avoid Water Fasting?
Despite the many benefits of water fasting, it may not be suitable for everyone. If you fall in any of the following categories, it is best to avoid it.
- Have an eating disorder
- Pregnant or a breast-feeding mother
- Have chronic kidney diseases
- Have medical conditions such as Type-1 diabetes, heart problems or migraines
- Undergoing blood transfusion
- Under any kind of medications
Things You Should Know While Water Fasting
- Water fasting implies strictly consuming only water. You should not consume any zero-calorie drinks, sports drinks, tea, coffee, or any liquids.
- You may feel mild fatigue and lowered energy levels when you start the water fast as you don’t consume any solid foods.
- If you want to water fast for more than 48 hours, make sure to do it under medical supervision.
- Consume more water than usual when water fasting. You can set reminders on your phone to keep drinking water throughout the day.
- Make sure you rest and avoid any heavy work while on a water fast.
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To lose weight, you need to expend more calories than you consume and water fasting helps give the body a break from calories to shed extra kilos. While it can work as a good short-term weight loss approach and proves to be a good detox plan, it is not a sustainable solution and you may put your health at risk. It is best to try water fasting under the supervision of a doctor.