Is Water Fasting A Safe Diet?

By ReshapeAugust 11th 2021

Is water fasting a safe diet? When you hear the word fasting, something spiritual may pop into your mind, as numerous people have practiced fasting for centuries. Some perform fasting for cultural reasons, some spiritual, and some for other health benefits. 

Recently, fasting diets have gained popularity in the world of diet and healthy lifestyles. Water fasts have the most hype going around for detoxifying, autophagy, short-term weight loss, and other health benefits. Although these fasts/fasting diets can be pretty tough, after all, what's life without food?

This article will take you on a deep dive into water fasting and the related following topics:

  • What Is Water Fasting?
  • Potential Health Benefits Of Water Fasting
  • Risks Associated With Water Fasting
  • Who Should Not Fast?
  • Water Fasting Vs. Intermittent Fasting

What Is Water Fasting?

Water fasting is exactly the opposite of what it sounds like. In water fasting, you fast and go without food for straight 24-72 hours, except for water. Water will keep you hydrated for long periods without food. However, you can only go without food for only a few days. 

Most people perform water fasting for weight management, but other health and wellness aspects are affected by these water fasting diets, such as low blood pressure and autophagy.

Is It Safe?

Whether to categorize it as safe or not depends on several factors of the individual performing it. The factors are;

  • Blood pressure history
  • Duration of fast
  • Undergoing medical conditions
  • Age

How Can You Start A Water Fasting Diet? 

Is Water Fasting A Safe Diet?
  • Firstly, consult your health care provider for medical advice and get yourself medically reviewed whether your body can perform water fasting or not.
  • Select your duration of fast such as 24 hours
  • Check your blood pressure before starting the fast
  • Constantly drink water after every hour (you should drink between 2-3 liters (8-12 cups) of water each day)
  • If you feel nauseated or lightheaded during the day, stop your fast immediately. 
  • However, if everything goes in the right direction, break your fast after your fast time is over.
  • Start eating lightly. Do not indulge yourself in food. This could lead to refeeding syndrome (rapid shifts in fluid and electrolytes in your body).
  • Get medically checked by a doctor weekly/monthly.

Potential Health Benefits Of Water Fasting

Water fasting promises several health benefits. Some of the health and wellness benefits of water fasting are stated below.

  • Lower Blood Pressure

When you don't eat and consume only water, your blood doesn’t get enough salts, fats(calories), and glucose(sugars). Only water! Water fasting may thin your blood and significantly supply that blood to all organs, making your blood pressure step down.  

  • Lower Cholesterol Levels

Different pieces of research state that with low consumption of saturated fats and processed foods in water fasting diets, your cholesterol levels may start to lower.  Although, further research is needed.

  • Improve Insulin Sensitivity 

According to one study in 2018, researchers found that intensive fasting may benefit insulin resistance and maintain balanced blood sugar levels. 

  • Anti-Aging 

The act of fasting may help detoxify your body from toxins and old damaged cells. With the high consumption of water, some skin-friendly benefits come like autophagy. Moreover, research states that water fasts may stimulate metabolic pathways which protect your body from free radicals and oxidative stress. 

  • Help You Lose Weight

One of the greatest benefits of water fasting is weight loss. People usually obtain these types of fasting diets when in need of weight loss. In this water fasting diet, due to less intake of calories or any other food, your body starts to burn more than it consumes. This behavior could show short-term weight loss results in a minimum of just one day of water fasting. 

If you weigh yourself after 24 hours of water fasting, you may find 2 pounds shredded off.  The reason behind this is that when you perform a 24 hours plus water fasting diet, your body starts to lose its sodium intake during water fasts, resulting in your body shedding more water(losing more water weight). However, this diet is not ideal for long-term (excessive periods) diet plans.

  • Lower The Risks Of Developing Chronic Diseases

Water fasting may help lower your risks of developing chronic diseases and contribute to preventing them. You cut out carbs, sugars, sodium, saturated fats, and other calories from your diet during water fasts. Eventually, your risks of developing the corresponding diseases will decrease. Water fasting can show the benefits of saving you from dementia, stroke, risk of type 2 diabetes, heart diseases, cancer, neural diseases, high uric acid issues, and many others. 

Is Water Fasting A Safe Diet?

Risks Associated With Water Fasting

With great fasting benefits, there are some great risk factors. fasting for weight loss

  • Excessive Weight loss

Hundreds of diets limit calorie intake as it is the only sustainable way to lose weight. Yet, in water fasting, you are not limiting calories; you are limiting food by going on a starvation mode (zero-calorie). This sudden unhealthy weight loss could slow down your metabolism, lower extreme blood pressure, and make you lose healthy nutrients from your body. The best way to lose weight is to obtain healthy nutrients from foods and slowly walk down the weight loss aisle. DO NOT STARVE YOURSELF!

According to the CDC, it is recommended to keep check under medical supervision that you are not losing more than 1 to 2 pounds per week by any weight loss diet. As sudden weight loss(fasting) could alter your metabolic rate, promote muscle loss, and have a drastic effect on your hair, skin, and other places on the body.

  • No Nutrition

Not all calories are bad; there are good and healthy ones too. We need those calories in the form of fuel for our bodies to work efficiently. In a water fasting diet, your body will lack macro (protein, carbs, fat) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and will become vulnerable to bacteria and viruses(weak immunity).

  • Dehydration 

You might think that how can we dehydrate while we are allowed to drink as much water as we want on water fasts? Well, your body’s liquid consumption does not just depend upon water. In fact, your body consumes  ⅓ of the total water from the food you eat too. Foods such as veggies have a high water content that stabilizes hydration levels in the human body. 

Is Water Fasting A Safe Diet?

Other Risks

  • Electrolyte abnormalities
  • Orthostatic hypotension
  • Constipation
  • Heart diseases
  • Stones in the gallbladder
  • Low metabolic rate
  • Feeling dizzy or fainting
  • Spikes in blood sugar
  • Muscle loss

Who Should Not Fast?

Water fasting is not for everyone! The following group of people listed below should not start water fasting just by their own choice.

  • Children under 18
  • Breastfeeding women
  • Pregnant women
  • Elderly people
  • People with chronic heart diseases
  • People with diabetes, type 2 diabetes
  • People with low blood pressure issues
  • People who have a history of eating disorders
  • A person who is not medically reviewed 

Water Fasting Vs. Intermittent Fasting

In intermittent fasting, the 16/8 method involves, where you are allowed to eat for only 8 hours and fast for the rest of 16 hours. 

Is Water Fasting A Safe Diet?

Sometimes, water fasting may be too overwhelming for some participants trying to lose weight, especially those with high blood pressure issues. It is advised to follow intermittent fasting rather than water fasting.

The Bottom Line

Water fasting is a diet that only allows you to drink unlimited water without food for long periods. Fasting is expected to treat your body with benefits like lowering high blood pressure, balancing blood sugar, autophagy, and likely to lose weight, only if it is done under medical supervision. Although, water fasting may come with several long-term destructive health conditions too. So, you must seek guidance from your healthcare provider/medical practitioner/doctor. More data is needed for future research on this topic.

DISCLAIMER: The content of this article is for informational purposes only, and although Reshape.Me strives to keep the information up to date and correct, it does not replace the advice of a healthcare practitioner. Be sure to consult a licensed medical professional if you require personalized support that may affect your health. Any reliance on this information is therefore strictly at your own risk.

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