This content has been Fact-Checked by a Certified Nutritionist in our Publishing Team. Learn more here. Always consult a medical professional before commencing any diet.
Dry fasting benefits and dangers, why is intermittent fasting so popular nowadays?
A lot of people are claiming they are able to lose weight and improve their overall health.
So, what will happen if you take it a step further and attempt dry fasting?
Well, according to Dr. Mindy Pelz, if you don’t consume food or water for an extended period of time, your body will burn more fat to access the water inside your fat cells. This means you can turbo-boost your weight-loss if you dry fast.
What is Dry Fasting Exactly?
Dry fasting means that you are not allowed to eat or drink (no food, no water) during a specific period of time which may extend to 24 hours for some people or from sunrise to sunset during Ramadan for Muslims.
Why Try Intermittent Dry Fasting?
Research cardiologists at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute proved that fasting is good for the health and the heart as it decreases the risk of coronary artery disease, diabetes, and cholesterol.
Proven dry fasting benefits include boosting brain health, lowering your risk of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, fatty liver and let’s not even get started on the weight-loss possibilities. It also reduces blood sugar, decreases inflammation, lower insulin levels, improves mental clarity, and the list goes on.
When it comes to dry fasting, inflammation is decreased to an even higher degree as diseases in the body will not have access to the water they need to survive. Your body will then be able to heal at a faster and more effective rate.
As mentioned above, if your body does not get water from outside, it will, in essence, make its own water during the burning of fat.
Russian scientist Dr. Filonov has overseen thousands of dry fasts – some lasting as long as 18 days – and he estimated that the human body could produce up to one liter of water a day.
That is why you will still urinate as usual during a dry fast! And, this internally-metabolized water is actually cleaner than the water you drink and does not contain the toxins found in most drinking water.
Hard and Soft Dry Fast
As with most things in life – there are always extremes, and if you thought that dry fasting was at the end of the spectrum, you would be wrong.
When doing a ‘hard’ dry fast, you are not allowed to come into contact with water at all – next level, right? That means no showers, no brushing your teeth, no moisturizer, no singing in the rain…
Some people go to this extreme because when you dry fast, your body starts to look for water in every way possible – even through the pores of your skin.
A ‘soft’ dry fast will be when you allow yourself to shower and brush your teeth.
One thing is for sure, keto breath is not something most of the world can take for too long…
If you’re not convinced yet, and you still think that going without water is crazy and dangerous, let’s look at the pros in more detail.
Don’t worry, we’ll cover the cons a little later!
Intermittent Dry Fasting Benefits
Although this is not the most fascinating benefit of dry fasting, it is one of the main reasons why people attempt intermittent dry fasting. Scientists at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) and Kyoto University revealed that fasting the metabolic activity.
The reason why you lose weight easily while on a dry fast, because your body goes into a metabolic state called ketosis.
While dry fasting, your body will enter ketosis fairly quickly as your body looks to fast stores to access the water stored in the cells.
That being said, you will most likely feel more tired than during regular intermittent fasting since your body is not just adapting to the restriction of nutrients but also that of water.
2. Lower inflammation levels
This is a biggie.
Inflammation is the root of all evil – well sort of. It can cause cell death; increase your chance of getting diseases such as Alzheimer’s, cancer, psoriasis, diabetes, hypertension; is linked to heart failure; can worsen infections and autoimmune diseases – the list goes on.
It is clear to see why it is essential to remove inflammation levels in your body – and intermittent dry fasting is one way to do it.
3. Boost Human Growth Hormone (HGH)
As with most things, HGH decreases with age, something that is far from ideal as we strive to hold on to our youth.
Luckily, while intermittent dry fasting, you can keep the wrinkles at bay and maintain muscle and bone tissue mass.
A boost in HGH combined with autophagy will have you looking 20 years younger.
Autophagy, you ask? Well, it’s a mechanism of cell cleansing. This is very exciting if you think about it because your body will basically ‘eat’ all the defected parts of your cells which may lead to diseases.
4. Makes you smarter
Have you ever heard about BDNF? Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor is a protein that is known to improve your memory, increase brain plasticity, improve learning and protect against degeneration of brain cells.
Dry fasting boosts this profound protein – leading to a more alert you!
5. Prevents Osteoporosis
- Increase your lifespan according to this research.
- Lowers insulin and increases insulin sensitivity
- Reduces the risk of cancer and other diseases
- Improve immune function
- More energy
These dry fasting science facts will easily convince you that it’s just not a dangerous fad!
But wait, it can’t be all good, can it?
Dry Fasting Dangers
Dry fasting should not be tried without experience in fasting. It is, in essence, an advanced version of intermittent fasting and can become dangerous.
The possibility of dehydration is a reality, and it can cause long-term damage if done for prolonged periods of time.
A dry fast can be harmful if:
- You do it longer than a day without the supervision of a doctor.
- You are on medication. It is best to discuss your willingness to dry fast with your doctor to find out if there will be any negative side-effects due to medication you may be taking.
- Your first experience in fasting is attempting to dry fast. It is better to have knowledge of how your body feels and functions while fasting before jumping right into the more advanced fasting programs such as intermittent dry fasting or even prolonged dry fasting.
- When you are too physically active.
- You are exposed to excessive heat.
- You are pregnant.
- You suffer from kidney stones
IMPORTANT: Do not attempt to go without water for more than 24-48 hours without the supervision of a doctor. You might have read everything there is to read about intermittent and prolonged dry fasting, but unless you are a healthcare professional, you won’t know what affects going without water for too long can have on your body. It can lead to server consequences and can be fatal in extreme cases.
Dry Fasting Side Effects
- Not being able to concentrate
- Feeling tired
- Low blood sugar
- Binge eating
- Experiencing the ‘keto flu’
How to Start Intermittent Dry Fasting
The key is to plan and prepare properly to get the physical and mental benefits linked to intermittent dry fasting.
Impulsively deciding to go from having three meals a day to eating and drinking nothing will be a massive jolt to your system and mind. It will make it more challenging to stick to.
Be sure to drink lots of water in the hours before you start your fast. Also, make sure to eat nutritious foods with enough salt to boost your mineral levels.
This will ensure that you do not get plagued by nasty cramps during your fast.
Choose your fasting regime
Intermittent fasting plans range from 16/8, 20/24, 23/1 (OMAD), to the more extreme alternate day fasting or prolonged fasts.
Taking 16/8 as an example, this will give you an eating/drinking window of 8 hours.
During the 8 hours, be sure to rehydrate yourself and also to replenish electrolytes by eating healthy and wholesome foods and adding a little bit of salt to your drinking water.
Eating and drinking forms part of our daily routines – even around the water cooler at work – and according to Brad Pilon, author of Eat Stop Eat, it is getting out of the daily habit of eating and drinking at specific times that is hard – not so much the hunger or thirst.
For that reason, it is better to start off slowly and gradually.
Dry Fast Dos and Don’ts
- Drink enough water in the hours leading up to your fast.
- Eat nutritious foods the day before your fast, focus on getting in enough sodium to fill up your mineral stores.
- Drink 100ml warm water with some pink rock salt added in the morning to balance electrolytes. This won’t break your fasted state (if you are going the hard dry fast route – this is a no-no). You can add a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to help kickstart ketosis and autophagy.
- Avoid any strenuous physical activities.
- Stay away from saunas, steam rooms or any other areas of excessive heat.
- Break your fast with a glass of salted water, followed by a low-carb meal that won’t spike your insulin.
- Don’t fast for longer than 24 hours without the supervision of your doctor.
Dry Fasting Stages
Your body will go through two distinct stages during a dry fast.
First, since there is no food or water, your body will burn all the stored glycogen, mainly in the liver, for energy. If you have been eating high carb before a fast, and depending on your physical activity, this will be the only fuel your body will use during an intermittent dry fast.
Second, your body will enter ketogenesis when the glycogen level is not enough to support your body’s needs. This is when your body will start using fat as fuel.
To turbocharge this process, you can follow a low-carb or keto diet before you fast. That way, your body will be fat adapted and used to using fat as fuel instead of glucose.
This will make the transition to burning fat easier while on a dry fast. You will also experience less discomfort such as thirst and hunger while dry fasting if you start the fast already fat adapted.
What to Eat After a Dry Fast
1. Your meal needs to have enough essential nutrients
Fasting throughout the day does not mean you can eat whatever you want when you break your fast. You should consume healthy and whole foods that will prepare your body for the next fasting cycle.
Remember to replenish your body’s minerals before starting your next dry fast.
2. Eat enough protein
Protein is an important building block of your body. That is why it is vital to make sure you eat the right amount, otherwise, you will lose muscle weight and not fat.
Keep in mind that if you exercise, you will need to consume more protein than the average individual.
To know how much protein you need to consume according to your weight, use this online calculator.
3. Eat fat to lose fat
Healthy fats are an essential part of a well-balanced diet; if you eat too little fat, your thyroid and hormones can be affected negatively.
According to the experts, the recommended intake of fat comes to 20-35% of your daily calories. But, if you follow a keto or low-carb diet, it is advised to raise your intake even more.
4. Don’t eat or drink
But that is pretty obvious, isn’t it?
Nothing must cross your lips while you are dry fasting – no food, no water.
To make sure you eat balanced meals during your eating window that will feed your body for the next fast, divide your macros along the lines of 25-35% protein, 40-50% fat, and 10-20% carbs. However, this is not a hard-and-fast rule and should be adapted to your personal needs.
5. Stock Your Fridge
A good tip to help you eat healthily when you break your fast is to make sure that there are no unhealthy foods in your house.
Make sure to stock your fridge and pantry with wholesome foods like eggs, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, and various fruits.
Also, it might help to plan your meals ahead and even prepare it beforehand. That way, you won’t find yourself heading through a drive-through because you are starving and don’t want to waste time cooking.
Dry Fasting Tip
It can be challenging to find the correct time to start/break your fast. It will take some trial and error, but once you figure out your magic number, it is smooth sailing.
It is, however, a good idea to make use of the time you are sleeping. Fasting is hard, dry fasting is harder, and if you are asleep for a big chunk of that time, it will be more manageable.
So, when you are figuring out when to start/break your fast, take advantage of the time you are sleeping – you can’t eat or drink in your sleep.
Intermittent dry fasting is not for beginners. It is vital that you have experience with either intermittent fasting or water fasting before attempting dry fasting.
To make it easier for you, ease yourself into intermittent dry fasting by starting with a shorter fasting window – say, 16/8.
When you feel ready to make the fasting period longer, you can do it and will have a higher chance of succeeding. But remember, do not dry fast for longer than 24 hours without consulting your doctor.
Also, if you are dizzy and want to faint, stop the fast and try again another time. Don’t force it; you want to get healthier, not harm yourself.
Not ready to try dry fasting yet? Check out our Juice Fasting Complete Guide.
This content has been Fact-Checked by a Certified Nutritionist in our Publishing Team. Learn more here.