The intelligent design of the human body is mind-boggling. Even supposedly superfluous parts, like the appendix, may have important functions that we have yet to unravel. To this day, all the technological advances of man aren’t enough to create an object that can exhibit the brain’s full powers. And how about the efficiency of the body in repairing and restoring itself? We can go on for ages and still be unable to completely grasp how extraordinary our biological machines are.
It’s no wonder that biohacking, the biotechnological movement of leveraging the powers of our body, is gaining popularity even in the medical community. One sought-after biohack is water fasting, which some people say is life-changing.
Lauren and Katie, co-founders of the cutting-edge company HigherDOSE, decided to find out for themselves what the excitement was all about. Under the supervision of leading expert Dr. Mindy Pelz, they did a 3-day session where they learned a ton of information. Here, we’ll share some of the benefits they unpacked from their 72-hour water fasting experience.
How is water fasting beneficial?
Water fasting has the potential to deliver amazing benefits that help the body survive and thrive daily. Get the exact lowdown from our Biohack-Hers episode on water fasting. In the meantime, here’s a glimpse of how it can be an effective tool for better health.
1. It promotes cellular autophagy.
Every day, our bodies face multiple stressors, including the natural process of aging, lifestyle habits, and environmental factors. These can weaken and damage the cells. When left unchecked, cellular impairment can age us faster, bring about diseases, and, ultimately death.
Fortunately, the human body is equipped with this wonderful self-renewal process called cellular autophagy, our fundamental survival mechanism. A healthy autophagic system will regularly get into action to get rid of busted cells. At the same time, it recycles and repairs some of the usable parts.
However, over time, cellular autophagy declines and can become defective. Water fasting, when properly done, can boost this self-rejuvenating process. During a fast, the withholding of life-sustaining nutrients results in moderate metabolic stress. This activates regulating enzymes, which are proteins that stabilize your wonked-out inner environment. Adaptive responses are then triggered, leading to metabolic reprogramming. Thus, water fasts can be an invaluable biohack to enhance cellular autophagy and optimize our body’s processes.
2. It delays aging.
As we become more advanced in years, our bodies show signs of wear and tear. One evident sign is the aging of our arteries and veins, those crucial carriers of nutrients and oxygen to the different parts of the body. These blood vessels also get rid of waste materials in our system. When these become impaired, your tissues and organs can’t get what they need to function correctly. In addition, unwanted toxins can accumulate in the body if these aren’t regularly flushed out.
Fasting also triggers the liver to release an anti-aging molecule called a ketone. Ketones replace glucose as an energy source when the latter becomes unavailable, which happens when you fast. The same research also shows that these ketones rejuvenate blood vessels by encouraging the reproduction of their interior cells, delaying the aging process.
3. It improves cognitive function.
Remember the anti-aging ketones we mentioned earlier? These same molecules become the brain’s preferred fuel source when you fast. This enhances the metabolic activity of the nerve cells and boosts brain performance. For example, one study demonstrated that spatial learning and memory improved for the participants.
In addition, the power-packed molecules promote the recreation of mitochondria, the fuel generators of the cells. They also maintain the connecting pathways between nerve cells and the glands or muscles. On top of that, ketones also help protect neurons from diseases or injuries.
4. It boosts your energy.
It sounds counterintuitive, but water fasting can ramp up your energy levels. When you fast, insulin decreases, and muscle-mass-preserving HGH (human growth hormones) levels increase. Fasting also increases norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter hormone that helps regulate your fight-or-flight response. All these make the fat-burning process more efficient for your body’s energy requirements.
5. It fights inflammation.
When bacteria, toxins, or trauma injure our tissues, our immune system sends out first-responders called cytokines and inflammatory cells. These fight off the bacteria and repair the damaged tissues. As a result, you experience swelling, pain, or redness.
Studies show that water fasting unleashes your body’s healing power, killing disease-causing microbes and strengthening protective good bacteria. This helps in reducing inflammation and hastening recovery. It also deactivates pro-inflammatory cells called monocytes, which go to sleep during a fast.
Is water fasting right for you?
Water fasting has the potential to help you reset and “reclaim” your health to enjoy a better quality of life. However, it isn’t for everyone. See your physician first, especially if:
- You have a history of heart issues.
- You have a history of eating disorders.
- You have gout.
- You’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
- You have chronic kidney disease.
- You have diabetes.
- You have high blood pressure.
- You have thyroid problems.
- You’re underweight.
- You have an adrenal disorder.
Fasting the safe and effective way
Water fasting can be a potent way to a healthier and happier life—but only if done with prudence. Here are some helpful tips that you can use for your water fast adventure.
1. The proper perspective
It’s essential to highlight that water fasting is not about starving yourself. Rather, it’s a respectful partnership with your body, working with it to strengthen its self-healing powers, clear out its toxins, and help it achieve an optimal state of health and wellness.
2. Thoughtful planning
Water fasting isn’t something you decide to do one moment and then jump right into the next. It takes careful planning throughout the entire process for this hack to be effective and safe for anyone. For instance, before the fast, Lauren and Katie stuck to a diet that eliminated sugar and caffeine. They also consumed healthy fats (salmon, avocados, olives, nuts, and seeds) and clean protein (lean, organic, grass-fed).
If it’s your first time and you want to learn how to best prepare for your water fast, check out the website of Dr. Mindy Pelz.
3. Timing it right
Lauren and Katie were at different points in their hormonal cycle when they did their water fast, leading to dissimilar experiences. Women’s bodies are particularly affected by hormones. So schedule them during your hormone-ideal times to get the most benefits and make the water fasting sessions a bit more pleasant.
Estrogen levels, which are crucial to the menstrual process, can dip during a water fast. This can be stressful to the female body already triggered by hormonal fluctuations. Thus, some experts recommend that women should not fast at any phase of their monthly cycle. However, others may be able to go through the fast without any problems.
It’s essential to remember that each woman’s body is unique and will have different reactions to water fasting. For instance, lean women undergoing a 72-hour fast during the mid-follicular phase can have an increased risk of neuroendocrine and reproductive abnormalities compared to women of average weight. Those who bleed profusely during their menstrual phase are also more likely to have a negative water fasting experience than women with a lighter flow.
What’s important is to pay attention and listen carefully to your body to find out when fasting is most sustainable for you.
4. Monitoring your glucose
Monitoring your glucose levels is a critical part of ensuring a safe water fast. During water fasting, these can drop dangerously low, a condition called hypoglycemia. In the extreme, this can induce a coma.
Throughout the water fasting of Lauren and Katie, they kept it safe by monitoring their blood glucose and ketones every few hours. The goal was to get to ketosis (when your body doesn’t have access to carbs and instead burns fat) without their blood sugar dropping below 50.
5. Easing out of it
The other extreme can also happen when you break your water fast by eating immediately without the necessary transition. You can end up with extremely high blood sugar levels or hyperglycemia. This can lead to blood vessel damage, increased risk of heart disease and stroke, kidney disorder, and neurological problems.
6. Avoiding strenuous exercise
Intensive workouts can make your low blood sugar levels dip further. So, save your HIIT programs and metabolic exercises for those days when you aren’t water fasting. Instead, you can do light yoga stretches or take easy nature walks, which won’t use up too much energy. Your relaxed but engaged state of mind can help you focus and stay on track.
Taking your water fasting to the limit
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For an in-depth look at water fasting, watch the Higherdose.com/biohackhers series. today.
— Update: 02-01-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article Effects of a 72 hours fasting on brain metabolism in healthy women studied in vivo with magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging from the website www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov for the keyword benefits of a 72 hour fast.
The brain is the central organ for adaptation to different stressors and is responsible for altering systemic functions through neuroendocrine, autonomic, immune and metabolic systems. The adaptive stress response mechanisms can be defined on different methodological levels, including determination of neurometabolite contents, assessment of stress hormones, and analysis of epigenetic mechanisms. Knowledge of the neurometabolic alterations underlying the brain’s response to stress in healthy humans may help to understand the mechanisms of adaptive stress responses, and provide reference for distinguish maladaptive responses.
Different models have been used to explore how the human brain responds to acute stress. Psychological models, such as the Trier Social Stress Test, were used to induce acute stress; however, the inter-individual response is highly variable and depends on factors such as motivational factors, personality traits and underlying emotional regulation capabilities.1 Exercise can be used to induce stress; however, factors such as physical fitness and motivational factors determine individually the amount of stress associated with exercise training.2 The glucose clamp technique was used to examine the differential response of brain and muscle to hyper- and hypoglycemic stress. An increase of brain ATP was demonstrated, suggesting that the brain can activate specific mechanisms to modulate energy status during variations in glucose supply in contrast to peripheral organs.3 However, this technique has several side effects and limitations such as hypoglycemia-induced arrhythmia, making the method less feasible for the use in healthy volunteers and patients.4
Fasting induces psychological and metabolic stress by decreasing the amount of energy available to the organism. Several reports have shown that fasting is associated with fluctuations in mood and cognition, in particular depressed mood and difficulties in concentration.5,6 On a metabolic level, fasting is associated with weight loss, and an increase in hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenal system activity with subsequent hypercortisolism.7,8 Some of the above-mentioned alterations have also been observed in psychiatric disorders, such as major depressive disorder (MDD). MDD is characterized by a depressed mood that is typically accompanied by weight loss and alterations in cognition and appetite.9,10 On an endocrine level, upregulation of the hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenal axis with subsequent hypercortisolism has frequently been observed.11 Interestingly, neurometabolic alterations have also been reported in MDD. These findings comprise a decrease in central glucose utilization,12 being more prominent in patients with severe depression and in patients with suicide attempts,13,14 increased Cho/Cr levels in the basal ganglia, and decreased Glx levels.15 Given these similarities, it is of interest to examine whether healthy subjects without depression may have different neurometabolic responses. Fasting may also act as a stimulation paradigm to examine the compensatory response to acute energetic stress. Fasting can be standardized and is independent from underlying motivational factors and personality traits. It can be applied to healthy volunteers or different patient populations, making the method feasible for comparisons of the stress response in healthy and pathological states. Fasting for up to three days has reliably been shown to induce stress hormone alterations including hypercortisolism, which is common to several stress models and points to brain adaptive response to energetic stress.7,8
Proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS) can be used to study brain metabolism in vivo by detecting cerebral metabolites such as N-acetyl-aspartate (NAA), total creatine (tCr), total choline (tCho), the mixture (Glx) of glutamine (Gln) and glutamate (Glu), and myo-inositol (mI).16 While conventional 1H-MRS techniques are suitable only for studies carried out on a small brain region,17 thus limiting potential applications, a recently established whole brain MR spectroscopic imaging (wbMRSI) can map metabolites over large fractions of the brain.18 Thus, the wbMRSI offers a new method to gain information on the biochemical processes underlying normal brain function and pathological states,19,20 and provides a powerful tool to explore metabolic response of the brain to standardized stressors, such as fasting stress.
This FAST*BRAIN study has been designed to examine the adaptive stress response to 72 h of complete food deprivation in healthy volunteers and in pathological conditions, with neurometabolic responses in human brain being studied by using the wbMRSI technique. Here we present the results obtained from 15 healthy women to demonstrate the feasibility of the study and to yield reference data for patient studies.
— Update: 04-01-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article 48 vs 72 Hour Fast: Which Is Right For You? from the website 21dayhero.com for the keyword benefits of a 72 hour fast.
What Is Extended Fasting | What Happens When You Fast For 48 Hours | What Happens When You Fast For 72 Hours | Which Is Better 48 or 72 Hour Fast | Side Effects of 48 hours or 72 Hour Fasting | How To Safely Practice Extended Fasting
What to do?? 48 vs 72 hour fast answers! Intermittent fasting is known to show a variety of benefits for practitioners. The most common type of intermittent fast is 16:8, where a person eats for 8 hours and then fasts for 16 hours. However, when you have developed a habit of fasting for 16 hours, you can try out extended fasting.
Extended fasting includes consuming only zero-calorie drinks for 24-72 hours without food. The 48-hour and 72-hour fast are the most common extended fasts because of their incredible health benefits.
In this article, we will be discussing the 48 and 72 hours fast benefits. We will also discuss which is suitable for you out of the 48 or 72 hours fast.
What Is Extended Fasting? 48 vs 72 hour fast
Extended fasting, long-term fasting, or prolonged fasting is a type of intermittent fasting that extends for over 24 hours. Extended fasting can also be called water fast, where the practitioner only consumes water for 24 hours to many consecutive days.
Although going without food for an extended period can sound unusual to many people in today’s times, fasting for humans is not a new concept. Before the civilizations came into being, humans hunted and ate animals one time and lived off the body fat when they needed to survive harsh conditions.
So, for healthy people, fasting for a few days is not bad for their health. On the contrary, prolonged fasting can have many health benefits.
Let us discuss the differences between 48 hours fast and 72 hours fast. Although some people also try to extend their fast for over 72 hours, it is advisable to do that only under expert guidance and after consulting a professional.
What Happens When You Fast For 48 Hours?
When you fast for 48 hours, the initial 12 hours are used to digest the food you have already consumed. The food is broken down into glucose stored in the liver and muscles. For 12 hours, your body will burn any glucose that is readily available to it.
Within the next 18 hours, you would have burnt your stores of glycogen, and then your body will switch to finding alternative sources to produce energy. The body starts breaking down triglycerides stored in the fat cells to produce energy.
It is also when the body slowly transitions into the ketosis state. Since all of the available glycogen reserves are burnt, fat storage is the only source of energy for the cells. Hence ketosis starts, and fat will be broken down as the main energy source.
Between 24 to 48 hours, your body will start autophagy, which can also be considered repairing or cleansing the body. During autophagy, the cells begin digesting the damaged, old, and poorly functioning components. It is when your body removes all the toxins that are building up in the cells.
Autophagy has proven to be effective in the reduction of inflammation reduction of cancer cells and also help reduce the effects of aging.
At the 48 hour mark, the body is in the long-term fasting stage. Now, rapid autophagy is taking place, and the levels of growth hormones also increase considerably. It helps in faster muscle repair. By the 48th hour, you might feel less hungry.
To understand how fasting and autophagy are linked, read – Autophagy & Fasting: All You Need To Know.
What Happens When You Fast For 72 Hours? 48 vs 72 hour fast
From the 48 to 72 hours of fasting, your body’s insulin levels will be the lowest, and ketosis will be the only way to produce energy. Having low insulin levels can also improve insulin sensitivity. Autophagy still goes on during the 72 hour fast.
However, one of the biggest advantages of fasting for 72 hours is the production of stem cells, immune cells, and reduction in oxidative stress. New cells are produced since autophagy helps clean out all the weak cells. It also improves brain function and prevents conditions such as Alzheimer’s.
To know more about how to do prolonged fasting read – Prolonged Fasting 101: How To Do It & Are The Benefits Worth It?
Which Is Better 48 vs 72 hour Fast?
When we compare the 48 hour fast benefits to 72 hour fast benefits, there is one big difference: the regeneration of cells. The metabolic activities that a 48 hour fast does in the body are also seen in the 72-hour duration. However, the longer you fast, the more benefits your body can have.
So, 48 vs 72 hour fast: Which One Should You Pick?
Well, fasting for such a prolonged duration is not an easy task, and hence this should be a personal choice. Also, no rule book says that you can not fast for 60 hours or 54 hours. Whatever you can do comfortably should be your choice.
If you are only starting with intermittent fasting, it is advisable to begin with a 16-hour and 24-hour fast. If you build tolerance, you can go up to 48 hours. Once you see the benefits of fasting for 48 hours, you will surely want to go ahead and practice the 72 hours fast.
Even though a 48 hour and extended fast is excellent if practiced once a month or once every two months, 72 hours of fasting will give you even better results.
Side Effects of 48 vs 72 Hour Fasting
As we have discussed the benefits of fasting for longer durations, it is essential that you know the downside and potential side effects too. Before listing out the side effects, it is crucial for people with co-morbidities such as cardiovascular disorders, liver disorders, kidney disease, diabetes, and any other such conditions to always consult their healthcare professional before fasting.
With this said, a healthy individual can experience hunger and dizziness for the first few times of practicing fasting. Many studies have shown that nausea, fatigue, insomnia, headache, hypertension, and abdominal pain were some of the side effects of fasting for long durations. In addition to this, if you are a beginner, there is a chance that you might feel weak and sluggish during fasting.
Underweight people or people who have a history of eating disorders or other mental health disorders should avoid fasting for longer durations. These people already have various mineral and vitamin deficiencies that can be worsened due to prolonged fasting.
How To Safely Practice Extended Fasting?
For beginners, it is advisable to build up their fasting tolerance before jumping into fasting for 48 or 72 hours. Once your body becomes accustomed to the long duration of no food, long fasts will be easier on you.
Now, if you are a healthy individual and are comfortable with fasting long durations, here are some steps that will help you in practicing extended fasting safely:
Since you are only allowed to drink zero-calorie beverages during the water fast, make sure to intake enough fluids to avoid dehydration. When your body has stored glycogen, it holds water. But with that gone, your body will lose fluids quickly, which can turn into dehydration pretty quickly. Hence keep drinking water to maintain the electrolyte balance in your body.
Break The Monotony Of Water
Even though this fast is called water fast, you can also consume some zero-calorie beverages to break the monotony of only consuming water. Options such as flavored sparkling water, green tea, black coffee, and other such zero-calorie drinks can be taken from time to time. You can also add a pinch of salt to your water to balance the electrolyte loss.
Break Your Fast With Caution
Remember that your body has not consumed food for 2-3 days, and hence your digestive system has not been functioning as before. So, eating any heavy meal as soon as you break your fast can cause stomach problems, including diarrhea. So, instead of eating a big meal, starting with soup or low fiber foods can be helpful. Avoid anything too greasy, high in fats, spicy, and high in fibre.
Note that a few people also develop stomach issues with consuming artificial sweeteners after prolonged fasting. Start with a small meal and build up your tolerance to consume meals just like you ate before starting the fast.
Know When To Stop
We understand that fasting for a long duration can benefit the body. However, if overdone, it can lead to many other complications. Only practice 48-72 hours fasting once a month or once every two months. Do not go without food very often, or it can lead to severe vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
48 hour vs 72 hour fast – Final Verdict
48 vs 72 hour fast, which should I do? It can be seen that both the fasts are good overall, comparing the benefits of a 48 hour fast with that of 72 hours fast. Which of these you chose is dependent on how your body reacts to going without food for such long time durations.
In addition, starving for an extended time can be detrimental to some people; hence always consider getting an opinion from your healthcare provider before starting these fasts.
To learn more about longer term fasting solutions, for amazing results over time – I recommend starting here to learn more about these types of fasting which are the MOST popular, starting with 16/8 Fasting, click on these below to learn more:
16/8 Fasting Guide, 14/10 Fasting Guide, 18/6 Fasting Guide, One Meal a Day Guide.
You can also learn more about longer term fasting results here – Fasting results.
Need help fasting on the go wherever you are? Find Intermittent fasting mobile apps on our – Top 6 Apps for Intermittent fasting list that we recommend.
Want to go on a Fasting or Health retreat with likeminded others? Check out our Fasting Retreats review page Here.
— Update: 07-01-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article 72-Hour Fast: Benefits And Dangers Of A Long Water Fast from the website betterme.world for the keyword benefits of a 72 hour fast.
Intermittent fasting is a form of dieting that involves alternating between periods of eating and periods of not eating. In the case of water fasting, it means drinking only water for some time. The length can vary from 12 hours to 72 hours, depending on what you want to achieve.
Water fasting has been around for centuries, and many records show its use in ancient civilizations. It is still used today for many different reasons.
Intermittent fasting is generally safe and healthy, with only a few limitations: it is not encouraged to those who are underweight (BMI < 18.5); pregnant or breastfeeding women should not do it at all; diabetics or those with other medical conditions should consult their doctors before doing it; children and adolescents should never attempt to fast.
The Five Stages Of Intermittent Fasting
When your body perceives environmental stress (such as a limited food supply), it adjusts the activity of genes that are relevant in defending you from stress as a result of intermittent fasting. The changes occur in five stages depending on how long you fast:
At 12 Hours – Ketosis
In the first stage, which lasts from 12 to 18 hours after your last meal, your body has used most of its available carbohydrates for energy and starts burning fat, as well as converting protein into energy. During this period, a large number of fats are released into the bloodstream and converted into a fuel known as ketones (9). When this happens, you experience a state called ketosis.
At 18 Hours – Fat Burning Mode
In this stage, which is from 18 to 24 hours after your last meal, your body starts using ketones as its primary source of energy. In addition to breaking down fats in the process known as beta-oxidation, your liver begins producing ketones that are actually used by your brain, which normally gets its energy from glucose (16). When this happens, some people say that they feel more focused and energized than ever before. Others experience difficulty concentrating or “brain fog”.
At 24 Hours – Autophagy
During stage three, which lasts from 24 to 48 hours after your last meal, autophagy is believed to be happening at its peak level. This process is an important mechanism for maintaining health as it recycles cellular components like amino acids to make new proteins and mitochondria (the powerhouses of cells) and make new energy for your body cells (2). It also breaks down defective proteins in the cell to prevent them from accumulating inside the cell, which may lead to degenerative diseases like cancer and Parkinson’s Disease. Research indicates that fasting can trigger autophagy and that this happens around the 24-48 hour timeframe, but most studies have been done in animals.
At 48 Hours – Growth Hormone
The fourth stage, which occurs from 48 to 54 hours after your last meal, is when hormones such as human growth hormone (HGH) and noradrenaline increase dramatically (1). These hormones may play an important role in the growth and improvement of your overall health by preventing heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes and speeding up the repair process for damaged cells.
At 72 Hours – Cell Regeneration
Animal and in vitro studies suggest that prolonged fasting may promote stem cell regeneration. Theoretically, because autophagy has been activated, old and defective cells have been removed from the system (20).
In addition, fasting may result in a general decrease in inflammation and improved insulin sensitivity which brings about a variety of health benefits such as the reduced risk of chronic diseases.
How To Do A 72-Hour Fast?
72-hour water fast quite simply involves not eating and only drinking water for 72 hours. You’re also allowed to drink unsweetened black coffee and green tea to break up the monotony of plain water.
What To Eat After A 72-Hour Fast?
After going without food for days, you’re excited and relieved when it’s time to eat. However, you have to be very careful when breaking your fast. Choose a meal that’s gentle on your stomach and good for your metabolism.
Here’s how to break a 72-hour fast with the right foods:
Bone broth contains numerous vitamins and minerals, as well as amino acids and other components that can help the body and gut function optimally post-fast. This makes it an ideal first meal to have as you slowly ease into eating meals.
Bone broth also contains gelatin, a protein that can help heal a ravaged digestive system by providing possible anti-inflammatory effects (6).
Poultry or fish are ideal post-fast protein choices. Protein is made up of building blocks called amino acids and is essential for building healthy body cells (3). Steamed or baked salmon or chicken is a great addition to your plate while you’re easing back to eating solid foods
Non-Starchy, Non-Cruciferous Vegetables
Since vegetables contain important vitamins and nutrients that your body needs to post fast, having a portion of greens is ideal. Make sure to avoid cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower while fasting because they can cause gas after a prolonged period of not eating solid food. Use leafy greens like spinach and bok choy, saute them in healthy fats to make them easier for your stomach to digest.
Foods To Avoid After A 72-Hour Fast
Eating these foods might cause discomfort, gas, bloating, diarrhea, or constipation, so it’s best to avoid them until you have fully transitioned from your fasted state:
Processed, High-Glycemic Carbs
This includes crackers, chips, white bread, and other refined carbohydrates. These foods are broken down quickly by the body and raise blood sugar levels, which may be a shock to your system after a few days of not eating (5).
Milk contains lactose (sugar), which can irritate your stomach and cause bloating (17). If you’re not lactose intolerant, you might be able to indulge in one to two servings of dairy post-fast as long as it’s properly digested. In general, though, stay away from most forms of dairy until you’ve fully transitioned from fasting mode.
Broccoli, kale, cauliflower, and cabbage contain indigestible carbohydrates which are fermented by your gut bacteria, causing gas. These veggies are nutrient-dense, so you should have them after breaking your fast if you tolerate them well. Just ease your way into enjoying them again.
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Tips For Surviving A 72-Hour Fast
The first few days of fasting can be very tough psychologically. Lack of food over an extended period is an extremely unnatural situation that puts extra stress on the body.
Here are two tips to help ease your mind during this process:
Drink plenty of water during your fast. Without food, the body relies on stored energy in the form of glycogen, which holds onto water. As glycogen is depleted during fasting, your body will give up its water stores. Drinking plenty of water while fasting not only helps prevent dehydration but also reduces hunger significantly (23). You’ll need to get electrolytes from fluids as well, since you won’t be getting them from foods during this time.
You’re more likely to think about food if you’re bored. Keep yourself occupied with activities that take your mind off food. This might include exercise, reading, taking a walk, or spending time with friends and family.
Ease Hunger Pangs With Black Coffee
Drinking coffee breaks up the monotony of having plain old water all day. It’s also a mild appetite suppressant that can help you get through cravings for junk food or sweets (4). However, remember that too much caffeine will dehydrate you further, so limit your intake to two cups maximum per day while fasting to avoid this problem.
Break Your Fast Gently And Slowly
Your stomach needs time to adjust to digesting solid foods again, so easing back into eating is very important. Eat small amounts of simple meals for the first couple of days until you feel ready to go back to normal portions. Overstuffing your body post-fast can cause nausea, vomiting, or cramps, which defeats the purpose of fasting altogether.
Benefits Of 72-Hour Fasting
Both human and animal studies have linked water fasting to a variety of health benefits, including:
This is a physiological mechanism that involves the formation and activation of macroautophagy and other related intracellular processes known as autolysosomes (8). It is the process by which your body breaks down and recycles old or damaged cellular materials. It is believed that fasting can trigger autophagy, but this has mostly been studied in animals.
Levels of insulin become more stable while blood sugar levels decrease, which may result in improved regulation of metabolism and overall weight reduction.
HDL cholesterol has been seen to increase and triglycerides to decrease significantly, reducing risk for cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis (21).
It is believed that the metabolic adaptations to the stress of fasting may help prevent DNA damage (8).
A study involving obese individuals with metabolic syndrome found that three days of fasting using only water resulted in weight reduction, improvement of heart health markers, and lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), which is a marker for inflammation (14).
Immune System Function
Fasting may help improve the immune system by regenerating stem cells so they can rebuild damaged tissue more quickly (20). This could potentially result in improved recovery time after an illness or injury, as well as a lower risk of chronic diseases.
One study on type 2 diabetes patients showed that these individuals have an increased insulin sensitivity after fasting. The results were attributed to the normalization of blood glucose levels since there’s a lower need for insulin production and improved function of the pancreas (15). People with diabetes or other medical conditions should not fast without first consulting with their doctor.
Animal studies have suggested that cycles of fasting may extend have beneficial effects on longevity, aging, and disease (13). Much research still needs to be done to fully understand the effects of fasting on humans.
Studies show that intermittent fasting can lead to significant weight loss as effectively or more so than conventional diets or simply restricting calories alone (12).
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Water Fasting Dangers
Even though water fasting has its benefits, it’s not advisable for everyone.
Here are some of the dangers of 72-hour water fast:
Some of our water and most of our electrolytes come from food, so fasting can reduce how much of both you’re getting every day. Dehydration can cause dizziness and severe headaches, as well as health conditions such as kidney damage (23).
This is a major problem for those who suffer from heart disease since water fasting may result in a temporary decrease of blood pressure due to lack of food intake, causing fainting (18).
Worsen Medical Conditions
There are a few conditions that may be aggravated by water fasting. These include:
- Gastrointestinal Issues
Those suffering from stomach ulcers, colitis, and Crohn’s disease may not be able to fast without experiencing nausea and diarrhea as well as abdominal pain.
Water fasting increases uric acid production, which may cause an acute gout flare-up (22).
Hypertensive Individuals should also avoid prolonged periods of water fasting to prevent severe health conditions such as heart attacks and strokes.
- Heart Disease
The lack of food intake during a long time, like 72 hours without any food, could result in an irregular heartbeat that can cause serious heart problems.
People who suffer from any of these listed conditions or illnesses should not fast for 72 hours:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Eating disorders
- Gastrointestinal diseases such as abdominal pain, heartburn, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Metabolic disorders like high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, etc. should consult with their doctor first
Individuals who are pregnant or breastfeeding should also avoid water fasting since it can cause malnutrition or affect the development of their unborn child or infant (10). Those with heart disease and kidney failure patients on dialysis shouldn’t consider water fasting at all unless they seek advice from a health care provider first.
Experts recommend that children and teenagers under 18 years old should avoid water fasting since their bodies need more nutrients than adults for proper development.
The Bottom Line
Water fasting can be an effective way to lose weight and may even add more years to your life. But it shouldn’t be done without thorough research on what you can and cannot do, especially if you have any medical conditions or take medication regularly. If you’re planning to try water fasting for 72 hours, make sure that you tell your healthcare provider about it in advance and avoid doing so if you suffer from any of the conditions mentioned above.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Augmented growth hormone (GH) secretory burst frequency and amplitude mediate enhanced GH secretion during a two-day fast in normal men (1992, academic.oup.com)
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