Dry Fasting: What do we really know?
There’s a new diet fad sweeping the media called “Dry Fasting”. Dry fasting is when a person does not eat or drink any liquids (including water) for a significant period of time. This fad was very popular in India a couple of years ago and it has since steadily gained traction in the United States.
There are two types of dry fasting: hard fasting and soft fasting. Hard dry fasting, or absolute dry fasting, means you do not have any contact with water at all. This includes showering, brushing teeth, washing dishes, etc. Soft dry fasting means you simply abstain from drinking water or eating food, however physical contact with water is allowed.
There are many articles about dry fasting that claim a plethora of benefits, however none of them are able to back up their claims with hard evidence. What is it exactly that they are claiming?
- Weight loss
- Improved immune function
- Autophagy with prolonged fasting (cell renewal process)
- Anti-inflammatory effects
- Lowers blood pressure and cholesterol
- Enhances spirituality
- One day of dry fasting is equivalent to three days of regular fasting (with water)
While there are individuals who may swear by these claims, it is important to note that the only current recorded tests of dry fasting on human beings comes from a research study of people fasting for Ramadan, which is intermittent fasting (sun rise to sun set) for 20 days, not long-term fasting that is done consistently. Also, the people in this study were all healthy individuals, checked by physicians before starting. Some other studies have been done on mice and rats, and these had varying results. Therefore, there are no real research studies to back up true dry fasting at this time. In addition, all reports are anecdotal, making it a potentially unsafe and likely unsustainable method of weight loss.
Many experts, including our Registered Dietitian at Premier, Annie Justmann, encourage steering clear of this diet trend, especially until further research and sound evidence arises, as dry fasting with or without medical attention at this point may be extremely dangerous and even fatal. Some possible side effects from dry fasting include dehydration, nutrient deficiencies, urinary and kidney problems, irritability, fainting, headaches, and tiredness. We at Premier Health & Fitness Center definitely caution anyone from dry fasting for any period of time, especially without first consulting their doctor.
If you have a specific goal of weight loss, improving immune function, or really anything else on the list above, we assure you there are plenty of other ways to achieve your goals that are much safer. In fact, you can schedule a consultation with one of our registered dietitians to learn what methods are best for you! As always, we want to help you achieve your health and fitness goals in a fun and safe way that is sustainable to your life.
To set up an appointment with one of our Registered Dietitians, visit https://premiertlh.com/wellness/nutrition/ or call us at (850)431-2348.