What is Water Fasting?
A water fast is when a person does not eat and drinks nothing other than water.
There is no set time that water fasting should last for, but we advise anywhere from 24 hours to 3 days as the maximum time to go without food.
Throughout history, people have undertaken fasts for spiritual or religious reasons. But, water fasting is now popular in the natural health and wellness movements, often alongside meditation.
Getting plenty of rest, sitting down, and avoiding intense exercise can help to conserve energy. It is normal to feel irritable or tired from lack of food, but if someone begins to feel disorientated or confused while fasting, they should seek medical advice.
Benefits of Water Fasting
Fasting can cause a reduction in cells that produce inflammation — called “monocytes” — in the blood.
Increases Growth Hormone Secretion
Fasting stimulates growth hormones. It is vital for growth, metabolism, weight loss, and muscle strength. Certain fasting foods can help with it, which we will talk about in the article.
Resting of the digestive system
Since your food intake has been reduced, the digestive system may take a rest. But since the digestive process takes time, it’s never entirely stopped during intermittent fasting – only during the prolonged one.
Autophagy is the phase where your unhealthy cells get replaced with new vibrant ones. Potentially also helps in anti-aging and can also benefit cancer patients.
When we don’t eat (fast), the insulin goes down, and the glucagon hormone goes up. This increase in glucagon stimulates the process of autophagy. It also provides the most significant known boost to autophagy.
Increases Insulin Sensitivity
Fasting prevents insulin resistance and makes the body’s cell sensitive in response to insulin.
High insulin sensitivity allows the cells of the body to use blood glucose more effectively, reduce blood sugar, and, as a result, prevent type 2 diabetes.
Certain fasting foods are low on the glycemic index and are preferable for consumption.
Balancing Hunger Hormones
It normalizes ghrelin levels and helps to “discipline your hunger.”
When the body is on a fasted state, the blood sugar levels become stable, and hereby helps manage hunger.
Lowers triglyceride levels
Stored fat in the form of triglycerides breaks down when glucagon is dominant and lowers the risk of heart disease.
Superior fuel of energy
The hormone glucagon becomes dominant in the body during a fasted state; ketone bodies are generated during this metabolic stress. Ketones serve as an alternative energy source to maintain healthy brain cell metabolism.
BHB (a major ketone) may be an even more efficient fuel than glucose, providing more energy per unit oxygen used. Also, the brain thrives on ketones.
How to Do a Water Fast?
Water fasting is true to its name: It’s a fast during which all food and drink except water are restricted. That means no coffee, no tea, no alcohol, no zero-calorie sports drinks, or any other beverage. This also means no food.
If someone has not fasted before, they should consider starting with a 1-day fast to try it out and make sure there are no adverse effects.
Fasting for longer than 3 days should only be carried out after seeking the advice of a fitness professional.
After a Water Fast
If you do engage in water fasting, try to resist the urge to eat a big meal after the fast is complete.
After restricting calories for an extended period of time, consuming large amounts of food can cause digestive discomfort or nausea.
Apps to Track Fasting
FastHabit helps you start and stay consistent with Intermittent Fasting. Set your fast length, log daily, and use advanced features like reminders, weight tracking, and Health App syncing.
Track all types of intermittent fasting, from time-restricted eating to alternate-day fasting. Also, log weight, waist circumference, ketones, and blood glucose.
You don’t have to do it alone. This app allows you to create circles of friends, co-workers, or others to share your successes.
Learn about the health benefits of intermittent fasting, tips, tricks, and more. Our science-backed information is reviewed at least quarterly by our team of scientists.
This app allows you to set a timer where you can set your goal, start your timer, stay on track, with reminders and insights to keep you motivated.
The app also allows access to a content library curated by Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Peter Attia.
You can also check your statistics to chart your progress and map your journey, with the option to sync with Apple Health. Track health markers like weight, resting heart rate, and sleep, to see how they evolve with your fasting practice.
Another journal feature is available where you get to reflect on how you feel during your fasts. The app graphs your moods so you can track trends and adjust over time.
It allows you to track your eating window and fast, added features of scheduling, and be notified when your eating window opens and closes.
The app also allows you to challenge yourself with fasting, mindfulness, nutrition, workouts, or self-care tasks.
Water fasting can be mentally and physically tiring, so people must carefully prepare themselves by:
- eating well before the fast, with foods that are high in energy
- picking a time that will allow for rest, maybe a day when not at work
- avoiding fasting if unwell or very tired
- avoiding demanding exercise
- considering building up to a fast slowly, perhaps by reducing the size of meals
During water fasting, it is essential to drink enough water and to spread this out throughout the day.
When ending water fasting, a person should not eat too much at once but build up gradually to avoid feeling sick.