What Is A Water Fast? 8 Pros and Cons

World Health Day 2021
Mia Barnes

Health Writer

Apr 01, 2024

Water fasting is a popular topic in current weight loss conversations. Several religious gurus and wellness experts also swear by its effectiveness in boosting the body’s natural healing mechanism. However, before trying it out, you should know whether it’s suitable for you along with the potential risks.

What Is a Water Fast?

Water fasting is when you voluntarily abstain from all food, consuming only water over a given period. This practice has been around for hundreds, perhaps even thousands of years, but has recently become increasingly trendy due to claims about its magnitude of health benefits.

In-depth research regarding how to best maximize these benefits remains lacking. Additionally, there’s no all-encompassing standard on how to do a water fast.

Many people simply follow the same techniques used in intermittent fasting, such as the 16:8 and 5:2 methods — which involve drinking water only during a specified window and fasting for the remaining hours or days. Some practitioners also add a little Himalayan salt to the water to help maintain their electrolyte balance.

drink water

8 Pros and Cons of Water Fasting

Done properly, fasting while taking occasional sips of water can be advantageous. However, it’s not for everyone. Here are the potential benefits and drawbacks.


  1. Weight loss: Without food intake, your body starts burning stored fat for energy. This can be appealing if you’re looking to shed excess pounds quickly.
  2. Autophagy: Water fasting can trigger autophagy, where the body cleanses damaged cells and regenerates new ones. However, you may need to fast for at least 24-48 hours to activate autophagy.
  3. Simplicity: Water fasting requires no special foods or supplements, making it a straightforward approach.
  4. Decreased insulin levels: Water fasting may improve insulin sensitivity, especially since water doesn’t affect blood sugar levels. A study involving people who fasted for 72 hours showed up to 70% of plasma insulin dropped during the first 25 hours of fasting.


  1. Nutrient deficiency: Water fasting can lead to deficiencies in essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients you normally get from food.
  2. Viability: Having the resources to do a water fast is certainly a luxury only some have. There are 785 million people worldwide who have trouble accessing water, so be mindful of your community and other communities’ resources when participating in this health trend.
  3. Potential health complications: Water fasting may not suit everyone and can pose risks, particularly among older people and expectant mothers.
  4. Possible blood sugar swings: Hypoglycemia can lead to adverse effects like dizziness, nausea and increased nervousness.

Should You Embark on a Water Fast?

Water fasting may offer some potential benefits, but it’s essential to approach it cautiously and with careful consideration of your health needs. Always talk to your doctor before attempting a water fast, especially for an extended period.


By Mia Barnes

Health Writer

Mia Barnes is s regular contributor for The Carousel and Women Love Tech about healthy living, fitness, nutrition, and wellness. Mia is also the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the online publication, Body+Mind magazine.



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