What is Dry Fasting and Why Would You Use It?
You’ve probably read an article about how intermittent fasting can improve your health and longevity… but what about dry fasting?
Intermittent fasting has been found to increase your longevity and improve your overall health.
Fasting is commonly associated with religion, but it has become incredibly popular in the health and wellness communities. Fasting can help you lose weight, reduce your inflammation, and provides a great cognitive boost.
Related - Is Intermittent Fasting Right for You?
Fasting occurs when you do not eat for a period of eight to 12 hours. This means we generally are in a fasted state upon waking. There are several metabolic adjustments that happen during the fasted state.
If you’ve ever had surgery, you know that you must fast before the operation. This is due to the general anesthesia and the risk of pulmonary aspiration of gastric contents after induction of the anesthesia. So basically, vomiting and then inhaling that vomit.
That’s not good.
So aside from religious or medical reasons, many people willingly abstain from food and sometimes drink to experience the benefits of fasting — called intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting works by alternating periods of fasting and feasting during a certain time period. Intermittent fasting is not about deprivation — it’s about splitting your calories differently than your three squares plus a dessert routine.
Intermittent fasting works well in weight loss due to its ability to increase our insulin sensitivity. Insulin is released when we eat and it causes our liver, muscle, and fat cells to store glucose.
When we are in a true fasted state, our blood glucose levels will drop and decreases insulin production. This will signal the body to start burning our stored carbohydrates. After 12 hours of fasting, the body runs out of stored energy and will begin to use body fat for energy.
I don’t know about you, but I have one nuclear plant’s worth of energy stored.
There are a few different common ways to fast:
Eating Window Split – You will alternate between a window of fasting and a window of feasting. The most popular window split would be 16 hours of fasting with eight hours where you can eat. You can try different windows such like an 18 and six-hour window split, or even a 20 and four-hour window split.
I recommend starting at 16 and eight.
The 5:2 Diet – You will eat your normal amount of calories for five days of the week and then on two nonconsecutive days, you will consume around 800 calories.
Alternating Days – Eat your normal calories one day and then eat under 600 calories the next. Repeat.
Dry fasting, on the other hand, is a whole other type of monster.
Not really, but in a regular fast, you can drink as many fluids as you would like. Dry fasting means no fluids — not even water. Dry fasting has been around since biblical times and remains a modern-day practice for many religions and cultures.
Dry fasting has been labeled as dangerous by many medical professionals and organizations.
The Guinness Book of World Records won’t even accept any applications that have to do with dry fasting.
Dry fasting is suggested to accelerate the positive long-term benefits which include weight loss, cognitive benefits, a boosted immune system, and lower inflammation.
Types of Dry Fasts
There are a few different types of dry fasts, each increasingly more extreme.
Intermittent dry fasting is going to include cycling between your dry fast and an eating window. A 16 to 20-hour fasting window is common.
Prolonged dry fasting is where you abstain from food and water for longer than 24 hours. There are some religions that report fasts that last as long as six weeks.
Absolute dry fasts are where you don’t eat, don’t drink, and don’t so much as come in contact with any water. Yes, that means no shower for you.
Potential Benefits of Dry Fasting
There are an increasing amount of studies on dry fasting, and here are some of the potential benefits of dry fasting.
#1 – Your Blood Sugar Levels Will be Lower
Dry fasting has been suggested to increase insulin sensitivity and decrease your blood glucose levels. These are both factors of diabetes and other health issues.
One study found diabetic patients who participated in an intermittent dry fast that lasted from 15 to 21 days showed a reduction in glucose and insulin concentrations.
#2 – Decreased Cancer Risk
Dry fasting has been suggested to have some incredible anti-inflammatory benefits which will help reduce your risk of cancer.
Many studies suggest intermittent fasting has inflammation reduction properties that prevent cancer cell growth in animals. It also promotes cell regeneration and slows the growth of benign tumors.
More research is needed, but some studies suggest dry fasting could be extremely efficient at reducing the risk of breast cancer.
#3 – Decreased Risk of Heart Disease
Studies have suggested people who dry fast for roughly 24 hours have a lower risk of coronary heart disease.
Mormons, who practice dry fasting, have a lower cardiac mortality rate than the rest of the United States population.
Utah as a whole had one of the lowest rates of death due to cardiovascular disease, which many scientists believe is due to their routine fasting behavior.
#4 – You’ll Lose Weight
In over 13 different studies of various types of fasting, 84.6 percent of individuals showed some significant signs of weight loss. The amount varied from a 3.2 percent loss in a 12-week study all the way up to an eight percent loss in just eight weeks.
#5 – Improved Cholesterol Levels
Some studies have suggested that dry fasting increased your HDL cholesterol and lowered LDL cholesterol. It also lowered total cholesterol levels.
Another study suggested improved cholesterol levels that lasted four weeks after the fast ended.
Is Dry Fasting Right For You?
There are a lot of conflicting studies — often highly opinionated — that offer views on dry fasting. There haven’t been any studies that show significant mental or physical harm that came from an intermittent dry fast in healthy or overweight people.
There are, however, studies that suggest extremely long periods of dry fasting can be dangerous and lead to dehydration, headaches, migraines, or eye diseases like glaucoma.
If you’re interested in fasting, I recommend a normal intermittent fast. It’s basically as easy as skipping breakfast… which I’m sure you do already.
Say you go to bed at midnight every night and wake up at 8 am. Using your sleep is a great way to chunk out half of your fasted window. Quit eating around 8 pm and have your first meal of the day at around noon. It’s not that bad of a window; it’s just cutting out the midnight snacks and sodas and skipping that donut breakfast.
Consult with your doctor before you do anything, but do your due diligence before blindly jumping into a new eating pattern.
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