We all have been looking for ways to lose weight, to treat our sicknesses, to feel younger and better. It seems like a new diet pops out everyday, promising you all the benefits you are looking for. Last week, I watched a documentary about Water Fasting. I did a post on intermittent fasting so I knew right there and then I had to do my researches on this one. Keep in mind that I am not a doctor... I am simply a health coach reporting on this new trend.
what is water fasting?
Water fasting is a type of fasting in which the practitioner consumes only water. One may water fast for a variety of reasons, including medical and religious requirements. Water fasting is a type of fast that restricts everything except water. It has become more popular in recent years as a quick way to lose weight. Studies, which are very limited on this topic, have shown that water fasting could have health benefits. For example, it may lower the risk of some chronic diseases and stimulate autophagy, a process that helps your body break down and recycle old parts of your cells. However, like I said, studies are very limited and comes with many health risks and is not suitable for everyone. Water fasts typically lasts for 24-72 hours, some often go for days or months. It should not be done without medical supervision.
When you are done fasting, you will need to start eating again. This could lead to refeeding syndrom, which occurs when there are rapid shifts in fluid and electrolytes in your body. This can cause severe, debilitating symptoms like fatigue, confusion, seizures, and heart failure — particularly if you had a longer water fast.
Any individual who has had a negligible nutrient intake for many consecutive days and/or is metabolically stressed from a critical illness or major surgery is at risk of refeeding syndrome. Refeeding syndrome usually occurs within four days of starting to re-feed. Patients can develop fluid and electrolytes imbalance especially hypophosphatemia, along with neurologic, pulmonary, cardiac, neuromuscular, and hematologic complications. During fasting, the body switches its main fuel source from carbohydrates to fat tissue fatty acids and amino acids as the main energy sources. The spleen decreases its rate of red blood cell breakdown thus conserving red blood cells. Many intracellular minerals become severely depleted during this period, although serum levels remain normal. Importantly, insulin secretion is suppressed in this fasting state, and glucagon secretion is increased. During refeeding, insulin secretion resumes in response to increased blood sugar, resulting in increased glycogen, fat and protein synthesis. Refeeding increases the basal metabolic rate. The process requires phosphates, magnesium and potassium which are already depleted, and the stores rapidly become used up. Formation of phosphorylated carbohydrate compounds in the liver and skeletal muscle depletes intracellular ATP and 2,3-diphosphoglycerate in red blood cells, leading to cellular dysfunction and inadequate oxygen delivery to the body's organs. Intracellular movement of electrolytes occurs along with a fall in the serum electrolytes, including phosphorus and magnesium. Levels of serum glucose may rise, and B1 vitamin thiamine may fall. Abnormal heart rhythms are the most common cause of death from refeeding syndrome, with other significant risks including confusion, coma and convulsions and cardiac failure.
Excessive weight loss
Water fasts may result in excessive weight loss. According to the CDC, losing more than 1 to 2 pounds per week is not recommended. Rapid weight loss can cause muscle loss, which actually decreases your metabolic rate (the calories you burn at rest). This makes it easier to regain weight when you return to your regular eating habits.
Orthostatic hypotension is when you have sudden low blood pressure after quickly standing or sitting up. If you take blood pressure medications, you may be at an increased risk of this condition during periods of fasting. If you take any blood pressure meds, talk to your doctor before attempting a fast. They may advise that you be closely monitored while fasting or avoid water fasting altogether.
In select cases, fasting can result in dangerously low blood sugar levels, which is especially bad if you’re taking regular doses of insulin or other diabetes medications. A 2017 study on rats also found that prolonged fasting may actually promote insulin resistance, which can worsen diabetes. But there’s no firm evidence in humans to support this just yet.
Promotion of disordered eating
People who have a history of disordered eating may find that fasting makes harmful eating patterns worse. If you feel like you may have disordered eating, you should talk to your doctor.
Always seek medical advice before going on a special diet (keto, fasting, veganism, etc). The internet is full of informations, good and bad, but only a specialist who knows your health and body will be able to recommend you what's best.