Water fasting is, as its name implies, when you don’t consume anything except water.
Like any form of fasting, the first few days can be challenging. But once you get past that, you’ll experience many health benefits.
If you’re new to this type of fasting, then keep reading. We’ll show you tips on how to get started, as well as why it can be healthy.
Basic Overview of Water Fasting
Water fasting is arguably the quickest way to detox your body. Emotionally, it can be tough. But if you can push through, the results will be great.
Note: if you’re going on a water fast for longer than 3 days, then medical supervision is highly recommended.
To be considered a true water fast, you should be consuming zero calories.
That’s right- zero calories. It might sound extreme, that is, until you think about the millions of people who fast for weeks once per year.
It’s a powerful cleansing diet that can help you lose weight, burn harmful visceral fat, lower IGF-1 levels, and more.
Talk to a Doctor Before You Start
Not every person should be practicing this type of cleansing diet. Certain people may end up worse by doing it.
For this reason, it’s recommended that you speak with a doctor beforehand. They’ll let you know whether you’re healthy enough to try it.
For example, people who are already on the verge of being malnourished should not try water fasting. Doing so will likely make these people very sick.
However, if you’re a healthy individual with no conflicting health problems, then chances are that you’ll be okay.
Remember- many religions and traditions around the world fast for extended periods of time. And guess what? They don’t die because of it.
Health Benefits of Water Fasting
Fasting in general is associated with a wide range of health benefits. These include:
- Insulin Levels: During a water fast, your blood insulin levels should drop significantly. This will facilitate fat burning and may also reduce your risk of cancer.
- Cellular Repair: When your body enters “starvation mode”, it spends more time repairing what it already has rather than building new molecular structures.
- Reduced Oxidative Stress: Water fasting can help reduce harmful oxidative stress, which is associated with a wide range of diseases (even aging).
- Heart Health: Various studies show the potential heart health benefits of fasting. This is great considering that heart disease is the #1 killer in the United States.
- Cancer Prevention: There’s some evidence to suggest that fasting may prevent or slow down certain types of cancers. Additionally, it can reduce chemotherapy side effects.
People report having more energy and feeling healthier. People who’ve done it can agree: the first few days of water fasting are the most challenging.
If you can get past those, you’re in for numerous health benefits. In fact, after you adjust, you’ll find that your hunger decreases with time.
What Happens to Your Body When You Drink Only Water?
When you only drink water for 2-3 days, your body enters something called ketosis.
This is when there’s no carbohydrates available and so your body begins to burn its own fat and muscle cells.
Ketosis is how the body keeps itself alive during “starvation mode”. People with a lot of body fat can generally survive longer on ketosis than people with little body fat.
As a side note, ketosis is the basis of the Atkins Diet, which involves removing all carbohydrates from your diet. But we’ll save that for a later article.
First Time? Consider a Supervised Fast
Let’s face it: most people have never gone more than 12 hours without eating something in their entire lives.
So, asking them to cut out food for several days seems like a stretch. If you’re new to water fasting, which most people are, then consider a supervised fast.
The International Association of Hygienic Physicians (IAHP) is where you can find someone to supervise your water fast.
You technically don’t “need” to have someone supervise you, but for beginners, it’s sort of like having training wheels.
Water fasting typically isn’t dangerous, but for some people, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
How Long Should You Do It?
It varies from person to person. Newbies shouldn’t go any longer than 10 days. In fact, if you’re brand new to water fasting, then your first time shouldn’t be longer than 24 hours.
That should give you a nice feel for how things work. Once you’ve become comfortable fasting for 24 hours, then you can work your way up to 48 and 72 hours.
Remember that millions of people around the world do it for weeks at a time without dying.
The biggest challenge is going to be not giving in to your temptation to eat food. That’s what we’ll talk about in the next section.
How to Ignore Hunger While Water Fasting
Giving in to hunger is the biggest challenge you’ll need to face in this process. Here are some tips to help you ignore it:
- Drink Water: Well it’s a water fast- duh! On a serious note, keeping your stomach full of water will help reduce your craving for food.
- Chew Gum: Make sure that it’s calorie-free gum always. Chewing gum can help “trick” your brain into feeling less hungry.
- Keep Yourself Busy: Obviously, the longer you spend in your home or kitchen, the more likely you are to give in. Keep yourself busy outside of your house.
- Go for a Walk: Speaking of keeping yourself busy, go for a walk. Either alone or with your dog can help distract you from the hunger.
- Keep Your Eye on the Prize: When all else fails, focus on all the amazing health benefits that you’re going to experience by seeing it through.
Ignoring hunger isn’t easy. In fact, it’s one of the hardest things we can do as human beings. Why? Because we’re biologically designed to want food.
And when we don’t have it, the mind starts to freak out. But if you learn how to control it, you’ll be able to experience all the wonderful health benefits of water fasting.
Tips For Success
The first tip for success, as you know, is to not give in to eating. That’s an obvious one though. Let’s look at a few more tips for success that you may not have thought about:
- Water Amount: How much water should you be drinking per day? We recommend, as most doctors do, at least 8 glasses per day. This will ensure that you stay hydrated throughout the process, and will also help reduce hunger pangs.
- Don’t Physically Exert Yourself: We don’t recommend physically exerting yourself during your water fast. With no food in your system, your muscles won’t be able to keep up with the strenuous activity. Use this time to rest.
- Read: Reading can serve as an excellent distraction from the food and hunger. Catch up on your favorite novel or, better yet, read a book about fasting. Check out The Complete Guide to Fasting: Heal Your Body Through Intermittent, Alternate-Day, and Extended Fasting.
- Avoid Stress: It’s essential that you avoid stress throughout this process. You don’t want cortisol and other stress hormones circulating through your bloodstream in the middle of a water fast. Meditation works great for this.
These tips might sound trivial (some even obvious), but they will go a long way towards making the process smoother and more enjoyable.
When to Break the Fast
Don’t let your pride get in the way. If you don’t think that what you’re doing isn’t healthy, then break the fast and try again a different time.
If at any point you begin to feel dizzy, lightheaded, or have blurry vision, then that’s your body’s way of telling you to stop.
Most people won’t experience these symptoms, but if you do, then don’t ignore them.
Remember that water fasting offers a host of health benefits, so if you can stick with it, you’ll experience all of them. Good luck!