Just because I do it doesn’t mean I recommend it. There’s probably a lot more science needed and we’re probably not going to get it, because there’s no money in doing nothing.
What is dry fasting?
Exactly as it sounds. The complete abstinence from food AND water.
That sounds extreme, but it has amazing benefits that I will talk about soon.
There are actually two types of dry fasting:
Soft dry fasting where you do not consume any substances, but you continue to shower and brush your teeth.
Hard dry fasting is when you also exclude showing, touching water in any way, including no teeth brushing.
Dry Fasting Benefits
Dry Fasting can be much more effective than even water fasting, but also can be dangerous if not taken seriously.
When you go extended periods without food, your cells will go in to autophagy (autolysis) meaning the cells eat the decrepit parts of itself. Imagine working in an office and Sally is getting old and slow and not pulling her weight and the other three in the office eat her and it makes them stronger and they can do the work better than when she was around.
When you go extended periods of time without food AND water, your body will speed up the metabolism of fat to access the water that resides within your fat cells. That means that one of the most exciting benefits of dry fasting is an increase in fat metabolism.
One of the most important benefits of dry fasting is that your inflammation levels significantly drop.
In fact, studies show dry fasts significantly lower the concentration of inflammatory markers like these:
TNF-α: This molecule is able to induce fever, inflammation, and cell death. It can increase the chance of Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, psoriasis, and inflammatory bowel diseases when it’s not properly regulated.
CRP: High levels of CRP are associated with an increased risk of diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease
IL-1b: Important mediator of inflammation and is linked to heart failure.
IL-6: This pro-inflammatory molecule can worsen autoimmune diseases and infections. It’s associated with a higher risk of diabetes, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, and further malignant growths in people with breast cancer.
CXC Chemokines: Molecules that cause inflammation when unregulated.
Dry fasting promotes the release of a chemical in your brain called Brain-derived neurotrophic factor BDNF is a protein that, in humans, is encoded by the BDNF Gene, which is a member of the neurotrophin family of growth factors that are related to the canonical nerve growth factor. Neurotrophic factors are found in the brain and the periphery.
BDNF will help:
- Improve memory and learning
- Increase brain plasticity
- Increase the creation of new neurons
- Protect against degeneration of brain cells
Another benefit of dry fasting is that you tend to get higher ketone production on a dry fast. Ketones are incredibly healing to brain tissue and will reduce the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate. This can have a dramatic calming effect on conditions such as anxiety where the brain is overstimulated.
Studies show that after dry fasting:
- HDL (good) cholesterol levels increase in women.
- Total cholesterol and triglycerides decrease in men.
- LDL (bad) cholesterol decrease in both sexes.
When your blood sugar is too high, it’s damaging to your body and brain. Multiple studies have found that after a dry fast, subjects will have decreased blood glucose levels and increased insulin sensitivity.
Another cool benefit of dry fasting is the impact it can have on your bone health.
Your body will secrete a hormone called Parathyroid Hormone (PTH) during an intermittent dry fast. PTH helps with bone reabsorption, bone formation, and increases calcium levels in your blood.
If you are interested in dry fasting ensure that you discuss it first with your primary health care provider. You may need to take this information with you.
Start with just 12 hours. If you are already intermittent fasting, then you can add dry fasting for part or all of your fasting period. But work your way up to it.
To prepare for dry fasting one should increase hydration 48 hours prior and eat only fresh fruits and vegetables.
Some individuals work their way all the way up to 4-day dry fasts. I would never recommend fasting longer than this.
Breaking a dry fast is more important than the fast itself as you can undo all of your hard work with one wrong meal.
Day 1 of breaking a 24 hour dry fast I start with 16 oz half and half fresh clean water and celery juice. Then in twenty minutes I have ½ of a personal watermelon, twenty minutes later the other half, then later more water rich fruit. It is important to add a day of this per day of dry fasting.
Day 2 I will work back into my IF routine minus any grains this the addition of many pre and pro biotic vegetables.
Day 3 I resume my normal program.
Dry fasting is a more intense fasting experience for your body so my first recommendation is that if at any point in your dry fast you feel dizzy, light-headed, or like you are going to pass out, it’s time to break the fast.