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Dry Fasting & Weight Loss

by
author image Sarah Nyako
Based in the Washington, D.C. metro area, Sarah Nyako has been writing professionally since 2008. Her area of expertise is health, fitness and the pharmaceutical industry. She is currently working towards a master's degree in medical writing.
Dry Fasting & Weight Loss
Dry fasting is not a good way to see changes on the scale. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

Dry fasting is refraining from eating and drinking any liquids for a time. It has a historical and contemporary tradition in many faiths and people usually do it for religious purposes. Dry fasting will almost certainly result in weight loss if done for a significant length of time. However, weight loss with this method is not sustainable and can even be deadly. No matter what shape you are in, please consult a doctor if you are considering this type of fast.

About Dry Fasting

Religions or spiritual traditions that promote fasting do so because abstinence from the things that sustain our bodies can turn our minds to matters transcending the flesh. More and more, individuals are promoting dry fasting as an alternative, natural healing approach to a variety of ailments. For example, one website that promotes dry fasting, Fitnessthroughfasting.com claims it can boost your immune system and that a dry fast of 3 to 5 days can fight yeast infections. These sites point to no scientific studies backing up their claims. There are, however, various studies that can outline the dangerous, detrimental effects of fasting, for both general health and weight loss in particular.

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Weight Loss

Though it may seem counterintuitive, not eating is not a good way to lose weight. This is because starvation actually makes it easier for our bodies to gain weight. In addition, weight lost through starvation is harder to keep off and usually regained. On a dry fast, you will almost certainly lose weight, but that is because our bodies are 60 percent water, so changes in our water levels can cause many fluctuations on the scale. If your body is dehydrated, the amount of water you have available will decrease, and so will the pounds. However, as soon as you rehydrate yourself, you will regain the weight. Additionally, according to a MayoClinic.com critique on fast weight loss, when you starve yourself by not maintaining a balanced diet, your body uses lean muscle for energy. This lowers your metabolism and the amount of calories your body burns and means that future weight-loss attempts will be much harder.

Risks

It only takes a matter of hours for your body to become dehydrated. According to MayoClinic.com, you can reverse mild to moderate dehydration simply by drinking, but if you become severely dehydrated, you will need medical intervention. Symptoms of mild to moderate dehydration include tiredness, dry skin, headache, lightheadedness, dizziness, constipation and thirst. Staying in a dehydrated state for a long period is life threatening. Symptoms of severe dehydration include irritability and confusion, dry mouth, sunken eyes, low blood pressure, rapid heartbeat and breathing, fever, delirium and unconsciousness. Depending how long you dry fast, you may also run the risk of malnutrition. According to Pub Med Health, the consequences of malnutrition can be permanent. If left untreated, it can lead to death.

Considerations and Alternatives

According to MayoClinic.com, our bodies need more water in hot or humid weather, at high altitudes and during exercise. If determined to fast for weight loss, you may want to try a liquid diet. According to the University of Iowa Health Center, some medically supervised liquid fasts are nutritionally sound because they are high in protein and carbohydrates and fortified with all the vitamins and minerals you need. However, these are usually expensive and you must only attempt them under medical supervision. Instead, hydrate your body properly and eat an adequate number of calories to lose weight. An easy way to remember how much water to drink is the eight by eight rule -- 8 oz. of water eight times a day.

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