What is dry fasting? Purported benefits, possible risks, and how to do it well

What is dry fasting? Purported benefits, possible risks, and how to do it well

Health issues have been a significant concern for many, leading to whether dry fasting is beneficial and has consequences. The truth is that there are enormous benefits of dry fasting. However, it also presents some serious challenges to those who want to be involved in this activity.

dry fasting
Abstinence from food was invented a long time ago, and it has become popular lately. Photo: unsplash.com, Thought Catalog
Source: UGC

Dry fasting was invented a long time ago, and it has become popular lately. It usually involves total abstinence from food and water for some time. Many people practice this kind of fasting for various reasons. Some of these are weight loss programs, and others are for spiritual reasons.

What is dry fasting

Dry fasting is the temporary refusal not only from any food but also from the liquid. Primarily, this activity is carried out by religious folks for different reasons. However, their concept of depriving the body of food and water is to achieve an empty soul free from the world's cares.

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Dry fasting can be performed in several ways:

Intermittent fasting

This abstinence allows people to fast in a particular cycle, e.g., the 16/8 fasting cycle. In this type of fasting, you can fast for about 16 hours without eating or drinking water. However, the eight-hour allows you to eat any food or drink of your choice, especially using the intermittent fasting powder solution.

Alternate fasting

This method works similarly with intermittent fasting, only that you can fast at a one-day interval.

Periodic fasting

This type of fasting is usually for an extended period, e.g., three days without food or liquid.


This kind of abstinence is very light because it requires that you eat and fast for some time.

Dry fasting benefits

Over the years, health practitioners and fitness instructors have started publicising the benefits of dry fasting to one's health and general well-being. As difficult as this absolute abstinence can be, there are enormous benefits. Some of them are:

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Decreased insulin levels

One of the results of a one-day fast is a decrease in insulin levels. As a result, when you are hungry, your blood sugar naturally drops. This is because the body uses glucose in the blood and liver. After all, it has no other source of energy. Consequently, the pancreas produces less insulin for glucose absorption.

After fasting, your insulin sensitivity will increase, which means that the cells will begin to receive sufficient nutrients from food. As a result, the pressure will stabilise, and the constant feeling of hunger will go away.

dry fasting
People engage in abstinence from food and liquid for several reasons. Photo: unsplash.com, Siora Photography
Source: UGC

Boosts immunity

Fasting triggers the regeneration of old cells in the body, including part of the immune system. For example, Californian scientists found that three days of abstinence can lead to the regeneration of the immune system as a whole and the production of completely new white blood cells with a more vital ability to fight disease.

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Weight loss

Short-term dry fasting is a quick way to shed those extra pounds. When you eat, the body uses food as a source of energy. Unfortunately, the unused food for energy is converted to fat and remains in the body for further use, which is how you put on weight.

During the abstinence period, these fats are broken down, that is, lipolysis. This process does not affect muscle tissue, so many athletes use it to achieve a low body fat percentage.

Boosts metabolism

By periodically fasting, you give the digestive system time to rest, increase the level of norepinephrine, and, as a result, speed up the metabolism. As a result, you will get more energy from subsequent meals and burn calories more efficiently.

For example, scientists from the Department of Internal Medicine IV, University of Vienna, showed that abstinence from food and liquid could speed up metabolism by 14%.

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To ensure a continuous metabolism, the brain converts the glycogen stored in the liver into energy. However, after about 12 hours, reserves are depleted, and the body begins to burn fat accumulated in different parts of the body. Also, the toxins stored in fats are released and then excreted from the body.

Deceleration of ageing

As cells grow older, their performance decreases, and old cellular material accumulates inside. All this leads to ageing. The deprivation of nutrients during fasting activates autophagy, that is, the destruction of old material. Moreover, in place of old and inactive cells, new and healthy ones appear.

In addition, it stimulates growth hormone production, strengthening bones, improving protein synthesis, and increasing muscle mass. This way, you rejuvenate both internally and externally.

Dry fasting dangers

Absolute abstinence can have a destructive effect on the body's tissues since a prolonged lack of fluid in the body threatens to thicken the blood. In addition, rapid weight loss and body weight fluctuations are associated with fluid loss. Other dangers of dry fasting are as follows:

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During abstinence, hunger is common as your body has been without food and water for a certain period due to the absence of water, making it worse because water quenches taste.

General weakness

Another side effect of this exercise is feeling weak and tired in carrying out any activity. Other possible side effects are dizziness and fragility.

dry fasting
Abstinence from food and liquid helps you lose weight. Photo: unsplash.com, @yunmai
Source: UGC


Due to the absence of food in your stomach, the feeling of being cranky starts building up.


For the first 24 hours without food, you are bound to start feeling headaches due to the absence of carbohydrates and other essential nutrients in the body.

Low focus

Dry fasting affects not only your stomach but also your mind. Due to tiredness and an empty stomach devoid of food and water, it would become an arduous task to concentrate on school work.

Reduced urination

There would be no output via the urinary system due to the lack of water intake. Also, as total abstinence persists over a long period, your urine may become dark and smelly.

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Also, do not resort to this exercise without consulting a specialist. The reason is that it could be categorically contraindicated for certain health indicators, especially those with severe underweight, heart rhythm disturbances, and diabetes mellitus.

How long can you do a dry fast?

There are no set guidelines concerning how long one can do a dry fast. However, according to medical advice, this exercise should only be from 24 hours to 72 hours maximum. For first-timers, it is advised not to do more than 12 hours of fasting. Dry fasting should be avoided by children under 14 years of age, the elderly, and pregnant women.

What happens when you dry fast?

Due to the absence of food and fluid, the body begins to extract moisture from its fat cells and, as a result, breaks them down. This moisture is called endemic (internal). This endemic fluid prevents the body from collapsing and dehydration in the early days of no food and water.

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Also, when you dry fast, it reduces oedema and stops the development of internal inflammations and other internal diseases.

How much weight can you lose on a 3 day dry fast?

You can lose as much as 10 pounds when you are on three days-dry fast. This is because of the absence of calorie intake, thereby causing the body to utilise the stored glycogen. Also, research has shown that 24-hour abstinence can reduce body weight by about 3% to 9% and significantly reduce body fat within 12-24 weeks.

How to fast well

Because there are no fasting rules and regulations, there are many misconceptions on how to fast well. Follow the essential points highlighted below on how to fast well:

  • Ensure your fasting period is short, as a longer abstinence period predisposes you to side effects of fasting.
  • If you are fasting intermittently, eat a small amount of food rather than large chunks of calories.
  • Stay hydrated by listening to your body, especially when you are feeling dizzy.
  • Perform activities that will distract you from focusing on your stomach.
  • Don't break a fast with a heavy meal, as this can result in feeling tired or bloated
  • Don't fast if you are feeling unwell as this may aggravate your sickness.
  • During abstinence, keep exercise and other physically demanding activities minimal.

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Dry fasting is the total abstinence from both food and water. This practice presents enormous benefits like weight loss and side effects, leading to further complications of one's health. That is why it is essential to consult your doctor first before engaging in any dry fasting program.

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DISCLAIMER: This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

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