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Can we drink water during intermittent fasting? Drinking water while fasting is a topic that has long been debated amongst health experts and fasting practitioners alike. While some practitioners argue that drinking water during a fast goes against the definition of a true fast, others argue that it is necessary for maintaining hydration, ensuring safety, and prolonging the practice of fasting itself.
So, what is the truth? Is it recommended to drink water while fasting OR should you abstain from all things consumption, water included?!
In this article, we’ll be diving into answering this question, exploring all that there is to know about hydration and fasting. What you’ll learn is that while it might sound like common sense to incorporate water into any fasting protocol, the real answer is that it depends on the type, circumstance, and purpose of the fast itself.
To begin, let’s define fasting and its many types!
In short, fasting is the practice of abstaining from food and caloric beverages or certain types of food for a specific period of time. This practice has been used for centuries for a number of different purposes including religious, spiritual and health-motivated reasons.
In modern times, fasting has become increasingly popular for its proclaimed health and wellness benefits, particularly as it pertains to weight loss and fat loss.
Fasting can be done in various ways, the most popular approach being a protocol known as intermittent fasting. This type of fasting is a consumption restriction protocol where the participant abstains from caloric consumption for an extended period of each day (typically 16-20 hours).
Other popular fasting protocols include but are certainly not limited to an alternate day fast whereby consumption is restricted in an alternating fashion, the 5:2 fast whereby calories are severely limited for 2 days each week, and an extended fast whereby the fast can last for days.
Now, you might be wondering, is water allowed in the context of these fasting protocols? Again, it depends… Let’s now dive deeper into the role that water plays in fasting and the exceptions to the rule.
Now, let’s talk about water and its importance during fasting. Water is essential for maintaining good health whether you’re fasting or not, and it’s of particular importance to stay hydrated during a fast.
Simply put, the body demands a certain amount of water to perform various functions such as regulating body temperature, removing waste products, and transporting nutrients to cells. Dehydration can cause a variety of undesirable symptoms including but not limited to headaches, fatigue, and even serious health problems such as kidney stones.
“But doesn’t drinking water have the potential to break the fast?” The short and definitive answer is NO – water doesn’t contain any calories and therefore will not break your fast.
In fact, drinking water during a fast can actually help to maintain hydration and prevent dehydration, ultimately providing a more beneficial and stable environment to thrive during a period of a fast, no matter how long or short. Many experts recommend drinking water while fasting to ensure that the body has enough fluids to function properly; this is otherwise known as a water fast.
It is important to note, however, that drinking liquids other than water such as juice or milk can and will break a fast. Why? You guessed it… because they contain calories and other nutrients.
Now that we’ve established that water is allowed, if not altogether essential, during a period of fasting, you might be wondering in what circumstances water is NOT allowed during a period of fasting.
This circumstance, or exception to the rule, if you will, is known as a dry fast; i.e. a fast in which no food or fluids are allowed to be consumed, water included. The idea behind a dry fast is that it may primarily aid in detoxifying the body, thus improving skin and overall health.
It’s important to note, however, that dry fasting is not recommended for everyone and can be quite dangerous if not done under proper guidance and supervision. Such a practice can ultimately lead to dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, and even organ damage.
As a disclaimer, dry fasting is not suitable for people with certain health conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, or heart disease, or for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Finally, children and elderly people are also not encouraged to partake in a dry fasting protocol for general health and safety reasons.
Individuals who may have a scheduled medical procedure are also typically asked to avoid the consumption of food and water for 12-24 hours leading up to the procedure itself. This is merely to avoid complications such as vomiting, nausea, and aspiration.
Also Read: The Right Way To Do Intermittent Fasting
So, can we drink water during intermittent fasting or any other version of fasting?
Generally, yes, unless, of course, you’re partaking in a dry fasting practice OR you’ve been directed to avoid its consumption for the purposes of an upcoming medical procedure.
This means that if you are practicing intermittent fasting for health or weight loss reasons, then you can (and should) include water during your fasting period.
In fact, water is not the only liquid that is generally allowed during a fasted period. Other types of beverages typically allowed include black coffee, black tea, lemon water and sparkling (soda) water.
We guide many people who are part of the Daily9 weight loss program to do intermittent fasting in a safe and effective manner. This includes providing guidance on the drinks that are allowed during the fasting period, that do not break the fast. This makes IF safe and also easier to do.
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