Does Water Fasting & Prolonged Intermittent Fasting Work?

Yes, yes it does. You may have noticed we said yes IT does, that was not a mistake. Water fasting does work for weight loss and health improvement. However, prolonged intermittent fasting would be defined as lengthening the portion of a day where calories are not consumed. This in and of itself has not been shown to have much if any affect. Let us explain.

Water fasting could be a single full day fast where you go to bed, wake up, drink only water all day and then go to bed, wake the next day and consume calories. The water fast can last longer than on day, how long it can last will be covered below and you really want to read that section carefully.

Intermittent fasting, prolonged or not would be where during a 24-hour period you would consume calories at some point or it’s really now into the realm of water fasting because you’ve gone longer than 1 day.

Those that do a 5 and 2 schedule where they eat for 5 days and then water fast for 2 days each week are not intermittent fasting. They are following a 5 and 2 water fast protocol.

If you wanted to call that intermittent fasting, you’d really be stretching the definition of it. The thing that most people can wrap their heads around with intermittent fasting is that, for a portion of the day you don’t eat and for a portion of the day you do eat.

Once you start going past 24 hours, you’re really just talking about water fasting. If you drink coffee or tea, then it’s not a true water fast. However, if you don’t have any sweeteners or creamers then you’re not technically taking in any calories so it could still loosely be considered a water fast.

No, you can’t have artificial sweeteners either. They have been shown to excite insulin production, lodge in cell receptors turning them off so that fat is not properly metabolized (burned) and it basically kills weight loss.

Plus, the vast majority of them are poison anyway, they are chemicals that have serious consequences that you just don’t need to be a part of.

So, as we will discuss below, water fasting does work to deliver health benefits and weight loss. However, we strongly advise that you are under the care of a licensed health care provider who has experience supervising medically assisted water fasts.

This is not something you should do on your own. The biggest reason is on about day 3 many people start to experience a euphoria and then never want to stop the fast.

Well, after a period of days you can die or become seriously malnourished from water fasting past your body’s set point. The problem is that most people would never recognize their set point, just keep on going and cause either serious health consequences or death.

That being said, please read this disclaimer below.

Disclaimer: The following is for educational purposes only. We are not advocating a change in dietary, health or exercise protocols. Please seek the advice or council of your nutritionally educated health care practitioner prior to engaging in any dietary or exercise changes.

What Is Water Fasting?

Water fasting means literally exactly what it sounds like it means. You don’t take in anything other than water for the duration of the fast. No food, no other drinks, no sweeteners artificial or natural, nothing, zip, zilch, nada other than water for the length of the fast.

To really be thought of as a water fast and not an intermittent fast it must before a period of 24 hours or more, otherwise you’re just restricting your calories to a daily feeding window which is intermittent fasting.

What Is Prolonged Or Extended Intermittent Fasting?

This is where you extend the time frame where you don’t consume calories during a day. Let’s say you were doing a 16 – 8. That means that you abstain from calories for 16 hours per day and eat all your calories over an 8-hour window. Then you switch to a 20 – 4 where you abstain for 20 hours and eat for 4 hours. You just prolonged or extended your intermittent fast.

Is Water Fasting Dangerous?

Yes, it can be dangerous. That’s why we strongly advise that you water fast under the guidance of a medically trained, licensed practitioner who also has quite a bit of experience in water fasting.

We absolutely would not choose a physician where we were their first water fasting client. In our humble opinion that would not be a very good idea at all. You need someone with years of experience who can spot the signs where you’re just about to go off the rails.

If you can’t find someone properly qualified in your area, look to travel to their area. Yes, if you work you might have to use up some of that vacation time you’ve accrued. However, it will be well worth it if you run into a problem.

See, the thing is, while we are fasting, we are in such a blissful, peaceful, high-energy state that we don’t see the signs that they see as an outsider looking in.

Plus, if you’re on day 22 or so of a 28-day water fast, you really don’t want to quit now. But, sometimes you may have to. You can always come back and do it again, unless you don’t see the signs yourself and end up dying or causing permanent damage to yourself. Yes, it can happen.

That’s why so many people go to a retreat and fast. They are surrounded by others who are fasting along with skilled professionals who can help you along the way.

Because, if you undertake a long water fast, you will want people around you that know what you’re going through. It can be challenging, very challenging.

Is Extended Intermittent Fasting Dangerous?

No, not so much really. All you’re doing is just extending the fasting portion of one day and shortening the eating window. The most aggressive of which is OMAD or One Meal A Day eating. This means that you’d typically fast all day and then at some point, usually in the evening have all your calories in just one meal.

We will cover the supposed benefits in their respective section(s) below. As far as safety concerns, not too much unless you have a pre-existing health challenge that you’ve been diagnosed with such as diabetes etc.

Of course, no matter what, you should always seek the advice of your nutritionally educated health care practitioner prior to starting any new dietary protocol, diet or regime.

How Long Can You Water Fast?

There was an extreme case that we read about where the man water fasted for an entire year on just water and vitamins while under a doctor’s care. It seems that this person was morbidly obese and if he didn’t do something to change his life he wasn’t projected to live very long.

We want to again stress that this person did so only under the strict care and guidance of a highly trained medical professional, and this should NOT be done by anyone otherwise.

Most people start with a one-day water fast. Then generally progress to a 3-day water fast. Those people who want to see amazing life changing benefits will under a doctor’s care or at a fasting retreat go for as long as 28 days.

You have to remember; this is not juice fasting. We are big proponents of fasting here and have done many fasts the longest of which, one of us did a 90 – day juice fast. But a juice fast is a far-removed thing from a water fast.

What Is The Longest You Can intermittent Fast?

If your intermittent fast exceeds 24 hours, then you are technically water fasting and the fast is not an extended intermittent window, but a multi-day fast. So, to keep it real. 24 hours on the dot to the second. Otherwise, it’s not really intermittent by multi-day.

Now, some may argue that a 5 – 2 (five days of eating and 2 days of water fasting) is still intermittent fasting. We would argue that this is really a once per week 2-day water fast that should be medically supervised.

What Weight Loss Results Can You Get From Water Fasting?

Well, you have to look at it correctly. You have water loss due to the lack of sodium; you have fluids loss due to the reduction of inflammation and you have the loss of fecal matter that’s coming out but not being replaced with new foods. Then, on top that, now you have your actual weight loss.

You see, most people see this big movement on the scale in the first 2 days or so and think that’s how much weight they’ve lost. Nope, sorry to have fooled you that’s mostly fluids and then fecal matter.

The following is just a real-world example:

So, let’s say that you water fast for 3 days. You lose 12 pounds on the scale and are singing hallelujah. Then you re-feed and see that you really only dropped 3 to 4 pounds of actual weight.

You feel a little bit deflated, but focus on the good part, which is the part that you lost 3 pounds of weight in only 3 days.

In reality part of that was fat and part of that loss was also muscle. Exactly how much of each is so dependent upon your lean tissue percentage of body weight, your workout system and whether you trained while fasting and so many more variables that it’s impossible to tell without a Dexa scan (lean body mass to fat mass reading).

However, for the sake of argument let’s say that all three pounds were fat. As soon as you go back to your normal eating without any dietary changes then you’ll most likely gain that back within 3 months as one group did.

If you’re using this to lose weight, you need to make some changes to the diet that you were on before fasting that made you fat in the first place. So, that when you go back to ‘normal’ eating, you’re not just going back to an old set of bad habits.

As with all diets a pound of fat is 3,500 calories. So, how many calories did you abstain from? If it was 3,500 per day, they you could have lost 3 pounds of actual fat. If you did that plus exercise, then maybe even considerably more fat loss than just 3 pounds.

These are the things that only you can calculate.

How Much Weight Can I Lose On Extended Intermittent Fasting?

Let’s get real. You only lose as much fat as the number of calories that you drop. So, let’s say as an example you usually take in 2,500 calories per day. You adopt intermittent fasting and only eat during a 4-hour window per day on a 20 – 4 program. You stuff yourself but can only take in 2,000 calories per day. You created a 500 calorie per day deficit. A pound of fat equals 3,500 calories, so you lose 1 pound of fat per week.

If your deficit was 1,000 calories per day, you’d lose 2 pounds of fat per week. And for most people losing more than 2 pounds per week is unrealistic unless you’re also exercising quite regularly.

It really doesn’t matter if you eat those 2,000 calories in 2 meals over a 4-hour period, 3 meals over 8 hours or 5 meals over 12 hours. So long as you maintain that deficit you ‘should’ lose the weight.

We say ‘should’ because we can’t promise anything. You could be on a medication that inhibits weight loss or have a metabolic error or??? Without a doctor’s diagnosis we would not even want to venture a guess.

This is the reality of dieting. If you want to weigh less, you need to be in a sustainable deficit over time. There really aren’t any other safe ways to do it.

Sources

1. http://eprints.mums.ac.ir/4874/

2. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/21649561211031178

3. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13679-021-00424-2

4. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09637486.2020.1760218

5. https://content.iospress.com/articles/nutrition-and-healthy-aging/nha170036

6. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0161475401855755

7. https://www.wefast.care/articles/fasting-loose-skin

8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4684131/

9. https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/11/2/246

10. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0939475312002578

11. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S089990071630226X

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