Fasting without drinking: benefits and risks

Dry fasting is commonly practiced for religious, spiritual or health reasons. In addition to improving self-discipline and awareness, its proponents claim that it may also be associated with a wide range of benefits, including increased weight loss, better blood sugar control, and more. However, there are also several serious side effects to consider. Indeed, prolonged fasting can increase the risk of dehydration, nutritional deficiencies, 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. In most forms of fasting, liquids like water, coffee, and tea are usually allowed. In contrast, in the case of dry fasting, all foods and liquids are restricted during the fasting period. Dry fasting is commonly used in religious or spiritual practices, including Ramadan, a month in which people fast daily from dawn 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 to promote weight loss and fat burning. Indeed, dry fasting has a few main stages that occur when you completely abstain from eating. When your body runs out of glucose (sugar) to use for energy, it begins to break down glycogen stores. Once glycogen stores are depleted, it begins to convert fat into ketones, which can be used as an alternative fuel source for the body.

Proponents of dry fasting believe it has other health benefits, including decreased inflammation, improved blood sugar, and better cell regeneration. Additionally, because it is more extreme than other types of fasting, some believe that dry fasting may amplify or accelerate the benefits of fasting. However, research is limited on whether or not dry fasting offers additional benefits over other forms of fasting.


There are several types of dry fasting, each of which varies in terms of its specific duration. Here are some of the most common types:

Periodic fasting: This type of fasting requires you to limit your food and water intake for a specific number of days.
Dry Intermittent Fasting: This form of fasting involves alternating periods of fasting and eating, with fasting windows typically lasting between 16 and 20 hours.
Alternate Day Fasting: With this type of fasting, you must refrain from eating and drinking every other day.
Eat, Stop Eat: This method requires dieters to fast one or two non-consecutive days per week. The other days of the week you should follow a normal diet.

water fasting

Compared to water fasting, dry fasting is much more restrictive. While water fasting allows the consumption of water (and sometimes other beverages like coffee or tea) during the fasting period, dry fasting requires you to limit all food and drink. Although some claim the results of dry fasting are much faster, supporting evidence is limited. For example, one review published 25 articles and found that both types of fasting provided similar weight loss and overall health benefits. Water fasting is also much more flexible, easier to follow, and associated with fewer adverse side effects. If implemented correctly, certain types of fasting, such as intermittent fasting, can be safely incorporated into a healthy routine with minimal risk of side effects.

Potential Benefits

Proponents of dry fasting claim that abstaining from liquids can further amplify the benefits of fasting. Here are some of the purported benefits of dry fasting and the science behind them.

1. Decreased inflammation

Although acute inflammation is a normal part of the immune process, maintaining high levels of inflammation over the long term 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 decrease oxidative stress. Keep in mind, however, that more studies are needed to determine whether liquid fasting may provide additional benefits over other forms of fasting and how this may impact the development of chronic diseases.

2. Promote Weight Loss

Many people incorporate fasting into their routine to promote weight loss and fat burning. In addition to decreasing overall food intake by limiting the food intake period, fasting forces the body to use fat for fuel rather than sugar. In clinical studies, intermittent fasting has even been shown to improve body composition by increasing both weight loss and fat loss. Note that while research suggests that fasting in general may be beneficial for weight loss, current evidence on the link between dry fasting and weight loss rates is lacking. Further studies should be conducted to assess whether dry fasting is more effective for weight loss than other types of fasting.

3. Promote 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, including cancer, diabetes, liver disease, and neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease. In animal models, fasting has been shown 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 wide variety of tissues and organs. in response to food deprivation. »

4. Improve blood sugar control

Some research has found that fasting may be especially beneficial for people with diabetes. For example, a study in 10 people with type 2 diabetes found that intermittent fasting led to decreased calorie intake, increased weight loss, and significantly improved blood sugar levels. What’s more, fasting may also help protect against insulin resistance. Insulin is the hormone responsible for transporting sugar from the bloodstream to tissues where it can be used as energy. High levels of circulating insulin in the blood can decrease 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 additional benefits over other forms of fasting. A review published in 2019 compared the effects of dry fasting with other types of fasting, including time-restricted eating. Interestingly, researchers noted that both types of fasting were effective for weight loss and provided similar health benefits. Even so, more studies are needed to assess whether dry fasting may affect how quickly results are achieved.

Dangers and side effects

While dry fasting has several purported benefits, there are also dangers to consider. Like other types of fasting, dry fasting can cause side effects such as hunger, low energy, mood swings, headaches, and brain fog. However, dry fasting is particularly dangerous because it requires you to limit all fluids as well as food, which can cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. If the human body can survive several weeks without food, it can only survive a few days without water. If the fast is prolonged or repeated several times over a short period, it can lead to serious side effects, including dehydration, nutritional deficiencies, 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 medical professional 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.

* Presse Santé strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information given can not replace the advice of a health professional.

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Fasting without drinking: benefits and risks