Water fasting

Cleanse your body with a water fast

Definition: What is water fasting?

Fasting is the process of abstaining from food, however, in recent years, many different forms of fasting have emerged. One of the more popular methods is water-only fasting, meaning that a person will drink nothing but water for the duration of the fast and refrain from consuming any other type of food or liquid. This method is met with mixed reviews from medical professionals and the fasting community, both citing benefits and dangers.

The reasons for embarking on a fast are just as varied as the methods themselves. When choosing a fasting method, it is important to understand why you would like to fast and what you ultimately wish to achieve.

Although water fasting is currently a trending buzz topic, it is good to keep in mind that there are many varieties of fasting. This page will help you gain a deeper understanding of fasting and also help you choose the method that is right for you.

Why has water fasting become so popular?

It is no secret that the modern sedentary lifestyle coupled together with the tendency to grab convenience food options has led to an increase in overweight and obesity. Unfortunately, those pesky pounds don’t fly off as quickly as they’re put on. With hectic routines putting a strain on the little time we have each day, it’s very tempting to go for quick fix solutions. At first glance, a zero-calorie water diet seems to promise the most efficient calorie deficit.

The same lifestyle has not only led to obesity, but a rise in other chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes. More and more health professionals are tapping into the healing powers of therapeutic fasting to help treat and improve chronic conditions or underlying ailments. Patients are trying to ditch the vast number of prescribed medications and instead opt for more holistic and natural methods that offer a permanent solution to the underlying problem.

Many fasting documentaries have also praised long-term water fasting and the weight loss benefits thereof, but often fail to mention the dangers. Before you embark on your fasting journey, regardless of whether you are looking at a 7 day water fast or a long-term 30 day water fast, it’s important to examine the effects it can have on you and your health.

Potential benefits of (water-only) fasting

Water fasting therapy

The body is a complicated machine and modern medicine still only understands a fraction of what it is capable of doing. We do, however, understand how vital good nutrition is in the overall ability for it to function at optimal levels. Schools and doctors have drummed into us, the importance of consuming sufficient calories, vitamins, and minerals in order to maintain our health.

However, our brains are also wired to react to food. In recent years, nutritionists have come to understand that substances like refined sugar have a similarly addictive effect on our brains as some illicit drugs. Foods containing refined sugars are a no-go during fasting, which is what makes it a great tool to help rewire your brain and kick these addictions. Long-term changes to lifestyle habits can therefore be achieved through fasting, as you’re tackling the roots of your habits and cravings.

Water fasting woman drinking water
Women talking and drinking water

Fasting not only provides a “reset” for the brain, but also grants your body a break, acting as a catalyst and kick-starting your body’s ability to heal itself. Studies show that people who embark on holistic methods of fasting, such as the renowned Buchinger method, have shown improvements in their weight management and chronic conditions related to cardiovascular risks.

Although fasting is not a proven method for permanent weight loss, it can be very helpful. Learn more about how fasting can help you lose weight here.

The hidden dangers of a water cleanse

You’ll often hear someone saying that the body can go for weeks without food but only several days without water. And although that is essentially true, it is describing an extreme survival scenario and not a healthy diet. The body can survive, but it is doing just that, merely surviving. A long-term water fast, lasting sometimes up to 30 or 40 days, can often cause more harm than good.

“Survival mode” from water fasting stresses vital organs

When fasting under healthy conditions, you should not be unnecessarily taxing your body. Depriving it of all nutrients and calories will ultimately cause shock and damage to your vital organs. And if you manage your water fast without any immediate physical repercussions and you even manage to lose some weight, many will suggest that this “survival mode” your body has just endured will prompt it to start “hoarding” calories as soon as you begin to eat again. This could ultimately mean that you regain all of the weight you lost and possibly even gaining more. This is that undesired and much dreaded yo-yo effect.  

Starving your body of calories for longer periods of time is not only unhealthy, it can even be dangerous. You not only need calories for exercise, but vital organs such as the brain, heart, and lungs require a certain base number of calories per day to help you think and function on even the most rudimentary levels. If you eliminate calories from your diet altogether, as is done in water fasting, your body will not begin to eat away at those stubborn fat reserves, but rather at muscles and tissues, and your vital organs will experience a devastating shock.



Woman relaxing with a glass of water




Active couple and water


You could even end up suffering of extremely low blood pressure, also known as hypotension. This can lead to dizziness, fainting, and even slower reaction speeds. Although this may not sound very dangerous all on its own, you could get into an accident that could even be fatal.

Even though water fasting promises many benefits, even helping alleviate certain medical conditions, there is a good chance it will ultimately worsen your state of health. Some of the benefits are only temporary or superficial, meaning once you return to your diet or routine, these medical conditions could resurface or even become much worse.

Swelling, weakness, and hair loss

A study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine on patients who underwent a total fast, showed that they also suffered from additional effects such as hair loss, swelling, and weakness. Although these are superficial side effects, they can be avoided through choosing safer methods of fasting

Requirements for a healthy detox

Even when embarking on a detox, your body needs certain nutrients to support the self-cleansing mechanisms of your body. The liver, which plays a vital role in this “spring-cleaning”, requires certain vitamins, minerals, and calories for it to function and perform at capacity and achieve the best results. Water fasting doesn’t provide these essential nutrients, thus not guaranteeing that you will get the most out of your fasting experience with the best long-term effects.

It is imperative to seek medical advice before attempting any form of fasting, to make sure it’s the right course of action for you and your health.


Water enjoying water

Healthy alternatives to water only fasting

Before you start: detox vs. weight loss

The first question you should ask yourself when starting a fast is: Why am I fasting? Nutritionists, dieticians, and doctors will tell you that fasting is not a long-term diet, but rather a tool for shorter periods of time to hit your body’s reset button and activate self-healing. By omitting certain foods or calories from your diet, you stimulate your body’s built-in cleansing mechanisms, helping restore its natural balance. 

This break from your daily routine and otherwise unhealthy lifestyle, such as sugary or high-processed foods, will allow your body to clean out unnecessary toxins and junk, alleviating your body from inner stressors such as inflammation. By granting yourself this break, you’re also allowing yourself to get in touch with real and whole foods again, re-learning the benefits of a nutrient rich diet and how it supports your bodily functions as well as your immune system, ultimately giving you control over your health and lifestyle. The reset will help support you when switching your diet, as staying away from foods, such as high-glucose treats, will allow you to kick the habits and the cravings on the long run. In other words, it helps your body detox from harmful toxins and contaminants that could negatively impact your health and send you running back to the sweets aisle.  




Couple enjoying water at the pool



Woman in towl drinking water

Fasting on the road to permanent weight loss

Nutrition experts and doctors will generally recommend a diet and lifestyle change when attempting weight loss as opposed to long-term fasts. A diet will reduce the calories you eat per day, allowing for that essential calorie deficit needed to attain weight loss, without endangering your body and vital organs. Weight loss is not achieved in a week, but it is rather a lifestyle and habit shift that should be maintained over longer periods of time.  

Although fasting is primarily used for detoxing, it can be a great tool to help you stick to your diet and achieve your ultimate weight loss goal. Healthy diets are usually so hard to follow through with, not only because we are confronted with our vices at every turn, but our brains tell us that we crave and need those temptations. Allowing your body to detox from things like sugary treats is a great way to help ensure that you stay on track with your weight loss journey and kick those unhealthy cravings!

Buchinger fasting method – the healthy alternative to water fasting

Dr. Buchinger was ahead of his time when he pioneered his Buchinger fasting method. It not only considers the benefits of an extremely low calorie fast, but also ensure that the body is properly supported in the process. The fast includes a variety of juices, broths, and teas as well as a regimented refeeding process to make sure that you get as much as you can from your detox, giving you a health (re)start into your day-to-day routine and diet.  

If you’ve never done a fast, it is highly recommended to take part in a fasting program that is supervised by well-trained medical professionals and doctors who will monitor your progress and help you adjust your fast so that it best benefits your health goals.  

Have we piqued your interest? Learn more about the Buchinger fasting method here!  

Or, if you’re ready to book a serene fasting retreat, why not check out our specialised fasting hotels below, ideal for seasoned and novice fasters.

Other fasting methods and diets

There are a vast variety of diets and fasts to choose from, ranging from low calorie liquid fasts to alkaline diets that allow food. Learn more about the various diets and fasting methods here.


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