Dry fasting is often practiced for religious, spiritual, or health reasons. In addition to improving self-discipline and awareness, its proponents claim that it can also be linked to a variety of benefits, including increased weight loss, better blood sugar control, and more. However, there are also some serious side effects to consider. In fact, prolonged fasting can increase the risk of dehydration, malnutrition, weakness, and fatigue. This article takes an in-depth look at some of the purported benefits of dry fasting, as well as some reasons why you should consider other types of fasting instead.
What is dry fasting?
Fasting is a practice of abstaining from food for a set period of time. Most forms of fasting usually allow for liquids such as water, coffee, and tea. Dry fasting, on the other hand, restricts all food and drink during the fasting period. Dry fasting is commonly used in religious or spiritual practices, including Ramadan, a month when people fast daily from sunrise to sunset. Fasting is also believed to improve self-discipline, increase feelings of gratitude, and strengthen faith and spirituality.
Some also choose to fast for health reasons, including promoting weight loss and fat burning. In fact, dry fasting has a few main phases that occur when you completely abstain from eating. When your body runs out of glucose (sugar) for energy, it begins to deplete glycogen stores. Once glycogen stores are depleted, it begins converting fat into ketones, which can be used as an alternative source of energy for the body.
Proponents of dry fasting believe it has other health benefits, including reduced inflammation, improved blood sugar, and better cell regeneration. Because it’s also more extreme than other types of fasting, some believe that dry fasting can enhance or accelerate the benefits of fasting. However, research is limited as to whether or not dry fasting offers additional benefits over other forms of fasting.
There are different types of dry fasting, each of which differ in their specific duration. Here are some of the most common types:
Intermittent Fasting: This type of fasting requires you to restrict your food and water intake for a specific number of days.
Dry Intermittent Fasting: This form of fasting alternates fasting and eating, with fasting windows typically lasting between 16 and 20 hours.
Alternate Day Fasting: This type of fasting requires you to abstain from eating and drinking every other day.
Eat, stop eating: This method requires dieters to fast for one or two non-consecutive days per week. The other days of the week you should eat normally.
Compared to water fasting, dry fasting is much more restrictive. While the water fast allows for the consumption of water (and sometimes other beverages like coffee or tea) during the fast, the dry fast requires you to limit all food and drink. Although some claim that dry fasting results are much faster, the evidence is limited. For example, one review published 25 articles and found that both types of fasting resulted in similar weight loss and overall health benefits. Water fasting is also much more flexible, easier to follow, and comes with fewer adverse side effects. When properly implemented, certain types of fasting, such as such as intermittent fasting, can be safely incorporated into a healthy routine with minimal risk of side effects.
Proponents of dry fasting claim that cutting out fluids can further amplify the benefits of fasting. Here are some of the purported benefits of dry fasting and the science behind them.
1. Reduced inflammation
Although acute inflammation is a normal part of the immune system, maintaining high levels of inflammation for a long time can increase the risk of chronic disease. Fasting has long been used to reduce inflammation and protect cells from damage. In fact, studies show that fasting can suppress the expression of inflammatory markers and reduce oxidative stress. Keep in mind, however, that more studies are needed to determine whether liquid fasting offers additional benefits over other forms of fasting and how this may impact the development of chronic disease.
2. Promote weight loss
Many people incorporate fasting into their routine to promote weight loss and fat burning. In addition to reducing overall food intake by limiting food intake time, fasting forces the body to use fat for fuel instead of sugar. In fact, intermittent fasting has been shown in clinical studies to improve body composition by increasing both weight loss and fat loss. Note that while research suggests that fasting can be beneficial for weight loss in general, current evidence linking dry fasting to weight loss is lacking. More studies should be conducted to assess whether dry fasting is more effective for weight loss than other types of fasting.
3. Promotion of cell renewal
Autophagy is a natural process by which the body removes and replaces damaged cells. Not only can this process help slow the signs of aging, but it can also help prevent chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, liver disease, and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease. Fasting has been shown in animal models to help induce autophagy, improve immune health and increase cell regeneration. Although more human studies are needed on the effects of dry fasting on autophagy, an analysis published in Aging Research Reviews concluded that “evidence suggests that autophagy is induced in a variety of tissues and organs in response to food deprivation. »
4. Improving blood sugar control
Some research has found that fasting may be particularly beneficial for people with diabetes. For example, a study of 10 people with type 2 diabetes found that intermittent fasting resulted in decreased calorie intake, increased weight loss, and significantly improved blood sugar levels. In addition, fasting can also help protect against insulin resistance. Insulin is the hormone responsible for moving sugar from the bloodstream to the tissues where it can be used for energy. High levels of circulating insulin in the blood can reduce the body’s sensitivity to insulin, which can affect your ability to regulate blood sugar effectively. According to a study conducted in Malaysia, intermittent fasting not only improved blood sugar levels and increased weight loss, but it was also effective in improving insulin sensitivity in healthy adults.
5. Accelerates results
Because dry fasting is more restrictive than regular fasting, many people believe it can speed up results. However, it is still unclear whether dry fasting has any additional benefit over other forms of fasting. A review published in 2019 compared the effects of dry fasting to other types of fasting, including time-restricted eating. Interestingly, the researchers found that both types of fasting were effective for weight loss and offered similar health benefits. Still, more studies are needed to assess whether dry fasting can affect how quickly results are achieved.
dangers and side effects
While dry fasting has several purported benefits, there are also dangers to be aware of. Like other types of fasting, dry fasting can cause side effects like hunger, low energy, mood swings, headaches, and brain fog. However, dry fasting is particularly dangerous as it requires you to restrict all fluids as well as food, which can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. If the human body can survive for several weeks without food, it can only survive for a few days without water. If fasting is prolonged over a short period of time or repeated multiple times, it can lead to serious side effects, including dehydration, malnutrition, binge eating, kidney stones, and fainting. In severe cases, dry fasting can even lead to death. If you have any underlying health conditions, you should consult a doctor to determine if fasting is right for you. Fasting is also not recommended for children, adolescents, people with a history of eating disorders, and pregnant or breastfeeding women.
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