Fasting is an increasingly growing trend these days, the majority of it for health purposes and maintaining a healthy weight, for example, the very famous and popular intermittent fasting.
Now, if you ask me about a fasting diet plan and I answer – DRINK ONLY WATER for every next meal, what will be your take on this?
Yes. That’s how water fasting works. Water fasting is a kind of fasting where everything is restricted except water. Now as uncanny as it sounds to drink only water for days and days, the truth is that water fasting does have many health benefits, not to mention you need to go along with proper caution and under proper medical guidance.
What Is 21-Day Water Fasting?
As the name suggests, a 21-day water fasting involves consuming only water for 21 days and nothing else, not even the common beverages like tea, coffee, health drinks, etc.
Typically, a water fast is advised to be done for not more than 24-72 hours due to the concern of suffering from extreme dehydration in the long run, but as already discussed, with proper medical supervision, such fasts can be prolonged.
Advantages Of 21-Day Water Fasting
21-day water fasting definitely holds some strong advantageous notions. Here are some possible benefits of replying only on water for 21 days-
- Weight loss
The most common reason why people resort to 21 days of water fasting is that they want to lose weight. Cutting back on solid foods and drinking only water continuously for 21 days reduce your calorie intake and facilitate weight loss quicker and faster.
However, if you are into this fasting practice, you need to know that you can also experience your weight being reduced way too fastly which can lead to many health complexities like headaches, lethargy, dizziness, etc. Thus, it is advised to always stay under medical supervision during your fasting period.
- Favors autophagy (cell recycling)
For most of us unaware of what autophagy is, it is a process of breakdown of your old cells and their recycling. This process helps in preventing many diseases like cancer, heart diseases, etc.
It is claimed in various animal studies that water fasting helps promote autophagy but the human studies and research on the same is quite limited.
- Helps in lowering blood pressure
Lower blood pressure readings have been linked to drinking more water and eating less salt. A water fast will allow you to perform both of these things, which may aid with blood pressure management. Water fasts under medical supervision have been demonstrated to reduce blood pressure in patients with borderline hypertension.
- Improve insulin sensitivity and control diabetes
Water fasting is quite beneficial for people suffering from diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes. It promotes insulin sensitivity which means your body can reduce blood sugar levels more effectively thus alleviating your risk of diabetes.
As evident, water serves as one of the best sources to cleanse and detoxify your body. The 21-day water fasting undoubtedly helps you in getting rid of harmful toxins from the body and keeps your metabolism completely clean and effective.
Moreover, water fast also helps you in quick rehydration if you are losing out on body fluids and electrolytes. That is why major pre and post-workout diets involve liquid food sources.
How To Do a 21-Day Water Fast?
To be frank, there are no fixed guidelines for water fasting. Since all you will be consuming is water, there is no set diet plan for such kind of fasting. But as convenient and feasible a water fast sounds, the cautionary notes that come along must be carefully administered.
Firstly, overhydration is a real thing. If you are consuming lots and lots of water, there are high chances you may suffer from water toxicity. So, make sure that even if your daily intake only involves water, it is in optimum amounts.
Ideally, you should drink at least 2 to 3 liters of water every day (ideally water consumption would be at the higher end of that range because you will not get the water you normally get from food).
So, make sure you keep your water consumption in check in accordance with your doctor. One of the best ways to know if you are drinking the right amounts of water is to check your urine color. If it’s exceptionally very clear, then you must be over hydrated and if very dark yellow, then clearly underhydrated.
The first week of a 21-day water fast can be difficult for you. You may experience the following symptoms-
- Mental confusion
- Trouble focusing
- Disturbed bowel movements
However, with time, you will slowly be able to adapt and adjust to this practice and the rest would be a cakewalk! Nevertheless, some slight off-notes like body pain, weakness, stomach problems might persist.
If you do not feel comfortable for a long time relying on only water consumption, do not hesitate to stop this practice. Your doctor may then advise you to consume small meal portions and light foods to overcome the health problems you encounter during this water fast.
If you’re someone suffering from any of the following issues, water fasting is simply not for you-
- Chronic kidney disease
- Eating disorders
- Heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD)
Breaking The 21-Day Water Fast
Always take it slow whenever you break any extended fast. You should avoid the impulse to eat a large meal after the water fast. This can lead to many complex health symptoms which can turn into chronic problems.
You can start by drinking a smoothie or resorting to small meals. Eat multiple times if you want but do not consume everything in one go. As you gain confidence, you might begin to introduce larger meals throughout the day.
After extended fasts, like 21-day water fast, the risk of refeeding syndrome ( rapid shifts in body’s fluid and electrolyte levels mostly occurring g in severely malnourished individuals) increases. This period usually lasts a day but in the case of a prolonged fast of 3 days or more, it may take time for you to return back on your normal diet pattern.
The Last Note
Taking into account all the medical and scientific aspects of fasting, we do not advise you to continue water fasting for more than 3 days and in cases of consuming only water for 21 days, strict medical guidance is required.
If you wish to lose weight or keep your health in the right fit, there are many other effective approaches to look for. Not all short or long-term diets might suit your body and thus you need to consider all the aspects of healthy living i.e, proper sleep, right eating pattern, and a good deal of physical activity.