Water fasting: ‘Unsustainable’ diet method could do more harm than good – doctor warning

Weight loss: Dr Michael Mosley on benefits of fasting

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There are many different types of fasting out there but during a water fast, the sole purpose is to only drink water. According to Healthline, most people drink around two to three litres of water per day during their fasting period.

But is it safe for everyone to do?

A water fast usually lasts for 24–72 hours but people should always seek medical advice before they change their diet.

The short-term fasting could help people suffering from:

Heart disease

High blood pressure

High cholesterol


Being overweight

A water fast is supposed to help people lose weight quickly.

When the body can’t burn its preferred source of energy, carbohydrates, it will begin to use fats instead.

Registered dietician Whitney Linsenmeyer, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and an instructor in the department of nutrition and dietetics at Saint Louis University, revealed that the body goes into “starvation state”.

“This is where the body recognises it’s not getting the fuel it needs, and resorts to using the body’s stores of protein and lipids,” she explained.

“Lack of nutrition for extended periods of time can result in mild symptoms such as fatigue, irritability, anxiety, drops in blood pressure, and even heart arrhythmias, confusion, seizures, or loss of consciousness.”

It is very important to always seek guidance beforehand, as Linsenmeyer added: “Very little high-quality research studies have been conducted on water fasting in humans.

“This is further complicated by the fact that there are no established parameters or guidelines around this type of fasting.

“There are plenty of anecdotes from individuals who have attempted water fasting in various ways, but these do not stand in the place of high-quality research studies.”

She went on to add that people who engage in a water fast are more than likely to gain the weight back immediately.

“It’s not a sustainable weight loss, so you’ll eventually gain it back,” she said.

“Your metabolism actually slows during the starvation state as the body aims to conserve energy, which is counterproductive to long-term weight loss.”

But there can be some benefits of a short water fast, as it can clean the kidneys, provide oxygen to the body’s organs and roomie good skin.

Experts at Medical News Today suggested some tips to prepare for those thinking about trying out a water fast, as it can be both mentally and physically tiring.

Their tips include:

Eat foods that are high in energy before the fast

Do it over a time where you can rest

Avoid demanding exercise

Consider building up to a fast slowly, perhaps by reducing the size of meals

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the best way to lose weight is by combining a healthy diet with exercise.

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