Fasting, a centuries-old practice, serves diverse purposes across many cultures – from religious observances to forms of protest and, most commonly, to lose weight and promote detoxification. Fasting entails a deliberate restriction of regular food consumption for a specified duration. Fasts vary in duration, ranging from short-term intermittent fasting to more extended periods. In this blog, we’re exploring the benefits of two popular types of fasts, water fasting and juice fasting.
Benefits of Fasting
Fasting puts less pressure on your digestive system, giving it a chance to rest and reset while also removing toxins and waste. By giving our bodies a short break from fibre, protein, and fats, our detox organs (like our liver and kidneys) can take a break from digestion and shift their focus to detoxifying and repairing.
A daily fasting period of at least 12 hours is recommended, acknowledging that a significant portion of this time occurs during your sleep. This way, your body has a chance to fully digest and detoxify efficiently.
Types of Liquid Fasts
There are many different types of liquid fasts out there that can make deciding what is right for you very challenging! We’ve taken two of the more popular options (juicing and water fasting) and broken them down by process and benefit to offer some clarity between the two.
What is a Water Fast?
A water fast is consuming liquids only (specifically water) over a period of time, typically 12 to 72 hours depending on your desired outcome. On average, 2 to 3 liters of water are typically recommended each day, and ideally, the source should be mineral water.
Dry Fasting vs Water Fasting
Dry fasting involves abstaining from both food and water, while water fasting still allows water intake but no food.
Benefits of a Water Fast
Just like with a juice cleanse, a water fast/detox allows the digestive system to empty, initiating internal detoxification and repair. The minerals in the water can help sustain and even increase the body’s metabolic responses, but any additional activities are not recommended on this 0-calorie cleanse. As a result, this cleanse can be challenging, and having a medical professional oversee your progress is highly recommended.
How to Properly Do a Water Fast
- Choose a duration for your water fast, typically ranging from 12 to 72 hours based on your goals and preferences.
- Aim to consume 2 to 3 liters of water each day during the fast to stay hydrated and support your body's detoxification process.
- Opt for mineral water whenever possible to ensure you're still getting essential minerals while fasting.
How to Start a Water Fast
- Step 1 - Consult a Professional: Before initiating any fasting regimen, it's crucial to consult with a qualified healthcare professional, especially if you have underlying health conditions or concerns. Your healthcare provider can offer personalized guidance and ensure fasting is suitable for you.
- Step 2 - Start Slow: We recommend starting with a 12-hour fasting period and if your healthcare provider agrees, try a longer duration fast next time.
- Step 3 - Eliminate Stimulants and Toxins: Before starting a fast cut out caffeine, alcohol, soda, and nicotine products from your diet to support your body's natural detoxification processes and enhance the effectiveness of your fast.
- Step 4: Eat Mindfully: Transition to a pre-detox diet rich in fruits, raw or steamed vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats, and whole grains. Avoid red meat, processed starches, dairy, and white sugar to prepare your body for fasting.
72 Hour Water Fast
A longer fast (72 hours +) may be desired every 2 to 3 months for a deeper detox (reducing the risk of future chronic illness) or repair (any acute conditions impacting digestion). We recommend reaching out to a healthcare professional to ensure a fast is right for you at that time, especially if you have any chronic health conditions or want to do a long-term fast (over 12 hours).
Signs to Stop Water Fasting
As you detox, listen closely to your body's signals. If you experience persistent weakness, dizziness, extreme fatigue, or severe headaches, these could be your body’s way of raising red flags to say that it is struggling to cope with the fast. Similarly, a significant drop in energy levels or difficulty concentrating may indicate your body needs nourishment. Any discomfort or unusual symptoms should end your fast. Prioritize your health and consult a healthcare professional before starting or continuing any fasting regimen.
Potential Risks of Water Fasting
Many have claimed this method to be effective in managing weight, blood sugar, reducing inflammation, and cardiovascular health5. However, for anyone with a chronic condition (including diabetes and gout), this cleanse is not recommended6.
What is a Juice Fast?
A juice fast (or juice cleanse) is an act of consuming a variety of fruit and vegetable juices in the placement of meals for a period of time. Water and or herbal tea is recommended between juices to support your detox and promote hydration and elimination of waste. Look for cold-pressed, organic juices to ensure you are getting the maximum amount of nutrients possible.
Benefits of a Juice Fast
Juicing not only offers an efficient fast, but also gives your body an abundance of essential enzymes, minerals, and vitamins. With immediate access to a variety of nutrients, cold-pressed juices can offer support to all major body systems to promote long-term longevity and wellness. Vitamin C for instance, can help boost collagen production1 for lasting results of strong and healthy skin and joints.
Juicing offers an abundance of micronutrients that most daily diets are lacking. Opting for juices with superfoods further enhances these nutritional benefits, such as elderberry (anti-viral2), ginger (anti-bacterial3), and turmeric (anti-inflammatory4).
Lastly, a juice fast is suitable for both beginners and experienced cleansers. You can enjoy a variety of flavours of juices while reducing cravings for unhealthy foods. In contrast to water fasting, juicing allows you to still get a healthy amount of calories on a daily basis to provide energy and sustenance while you go about your day.
Fasting can have many long-lasting benefits no matter what type you choose! Be sure to choose the best quality cleanse that suits you and your needs based on your personal health and lifestyle. Be mindful of easing into your cleanse with a nutrient-dense diet before and after your cleanse for best results.
Written by Julie Hadland: Registered Holistic Nutritionist
- Gref R;Deloménie C;Maksimenko A;Gouadon E;Percoco G;Lati E;Desmaële D;Zouhiri F;Couvreur P; (n.d.). Vitamin C-squalene bioconjugate promotes epidermal thickening and collagen production in human skin. Scientific reports. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33037252/
- Wieland LS;Piechotta V;Feinberg T;Ludeman E;Hutton B;Kanji S;Seely D;Garritty C; (n.d.). Elderberry for prevention and treatment of viral respiratory illnesses: A systematic review. BMC complementary medicine and therapies. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33827515/
- Wang X;Shen Y;Thakur K;Han J;Zhang JG;Hu F;Wei ZJ; (n.d.). Antibacterial activity and mechanism of ginger essential oil against escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32872604/
- AR;, M. V. (n.d.). Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin. Advances in experimental medicine and biology. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17569207/
- Link, R. (2022, October 1). Have you tried water fasting?. Dr. Axe. https://draxe.com/nutrition/water-fasting/
- Forbes Magazine. (2024, January 4). What is water fasting? benefits, risks and more. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/health/weight-loss/water-fasting/