Note: If you’re thinking about trying water fasting, definitely consult with your doctor before doing so!
When I was losing weight, I experimented a lot with not just what I was eating, but also how I was eating. Specifically fasting.
Intermittent fasting has become very popular of late in the fitness world, and it’s something that I’ve tried (and had success with) several times. However, that’s not what I’m talking about in this article. Here, I’m concentrating on something a little more extreme: water fasting.
What is Water Fasting?
Water fasting, unlike intermittent fasting involves consuming only water during your fasts. No green tea, no black coffee, just water. There are no exceptions and if you look around at any of the fasting groups online, the water fasting guys take it very seriously.
Water fasting is typically fasting with nothing but water for days at a time. That’s right, not hours, but days. I’ve read stories of guys fasting from anywhere between 5 to 21 days of drinking nothing but water.
People do it for different reasons. Many like the detoxing aspect of fasting as your body has the opportunity to clean and regulate itself. Others do it for religious or spiritual reasons, teaching themselves restraint and discipline.
I did it purely for weight loss. The longest I managed was 55 hours. I did see results in terms of weight loss, but I enjoy food too much, and would rather fast between 20 – 23 hours a day. Rather I didn’t take a few days out of my week to not eat whatsoever. I have a lot of respect for the guys that do it, but I wouldn’t recommend trying it – not without a lot supervision from a doctor of medical professional.
What are the benefits of water fasting?
Although fasting may seem like a rather alien concept to some people, there are some health advantages to doing it. There’s an argument that are bodies are built to some degree adapted for fasting.
The reasoning comes from idea that there was a time when food was scarce and man would only eat once every few days. Some studies would support this by how the body reacts when fasted over time.
Here are some of the benefits you may experience if you decide to fast:
Fasting Helps Regulate Blood Sugar and Insulin
This is a big one. One of the main problems we have in the human diet is excess amounts of sugar. By having a noticeable amount of sugar on a daily basis, your blood sugar and insulin levels remain high and keeps your body at risk of weight gain, diabetes and other problems.
The advantage of fasting is that it actively restricts your sugar intake. You can’t consume sugar if you can’t eat. The benefit here is that it gives your body time to regulate it’s blood sugar and insulin levels and help bring them back down within your optimum range.
You Lose Weight Quickly
The speed of your weight loss from fasting is quick. Very quick. If you think about the standard rules of weight loss are using up more calories than you’re consuming throughout the day, then with fasting is the most effective option.
No matter how many calories you burn throughout the day, you’re stacking that against a zero calorie input. Once your body burns through your glycogen (energy) stores, it has to move onto your stored fat to keep you going – it has no other option.
Not only that, there’s some evidence that short-term fasting can even increase your metabolism while persevering your muscle mass which can help make you get even leaner (study).
Fasting May Slow Aging
This is still under research, but the results are looking very promising. Animals that have been put on a fasting regimen appear to age slower than animals that aren’t.
By not eating, it appears that the cellular aging process of the animals slows down to make more of the resources already in their system. In a study involving two groups of rats, one group fasting every other day, while the other ate a normal diet, the fasting group lived on average 86% longer (study).
There are no human studies as of yet, but it appears that there may be something to not eating for long periods of time throughout the week.
It’s More Convenient Than You Think
One of the factors that is overlooked when fasting is how much time and money you save throughout the week.
For example if you’re fasting for a 48 hour period and drinking nothing but water – you get an incredible amount of time to yourself in-between work and chores.
You don’t need to cook, you don’t need to wash up after yourself, and you don’t need to spend any money on food or drink. All you’re doing is pouring yourself a glass of water and getting on with your day.
The amount of time and money you get out of fasting is unexpected, but incredibly welcome.
In all honesty, I’ve only scratched the surface on the amount of benefits that come with a decent fasting regimen.
However, I would say that you slowly need to work up to fasting for longer periods of time. Don’t jump into a day long fast too quickly.
Make sure you speak to a medical professional before trying this, if you’re not fully equipped to handle it, it could be dangerous.
If you get the all clear, you should try it. It’s definitely something worth experiencing. For me, I realized how much I take food for granted, and the more I did it, the more I found how little you need to function throughout the day.
Happy fasting, and best of luck!