Thinking about dry fasting but not ready to take the leap? Here’s everything you need to know about dry fasting to make your decision as easy peasy as 1-2-3-DRY-ME.
What is dry fasting?
Dry fasting is starting to make waves in the health-conscious community. More and more reports emerge of its miraculous benefits. Although oddly enough, it’s been around for thousands of years.
What is dry fasting? Dry fasting means total abstinence from consumption, fasting without food or water. It’s also called absolute fasting, as it’s the strictest form of fasting. No water means no liquids, no coffee, no tea, and no food; nothing enters your mouth.
Dry fasting is possibly the safest, purest method of fasting there is, and in some ways, the best. Animals, when they’re sick, refuse food and water for a good reason—to heal. Humans are the same, except we often forego our animal instinct—since childhood, we’ve been trained to eat, drink, eat, drink ad infinitum.
Most of the research on dry fasting has been done during Ramadan, when over 1.7 billion Muslims (intermittent) dry fast. However, Russian medical experts have also studied prolonged dry fasting for over a century.
Ways to do dry fasting
There are two ways to dry fast – hard or soft. Hard dry fasting means zero contact with water. A soft dry fast means you don’t ingest water, but you can shower, wash hands and brush your teeth. Although opinions vary, a hard dry fast is said to be more to more efficient. Russian experts seem to favor soft dry fast in general as it’s more comfortable and allows for toxins to be washed away when you bathe.
Types of dry fasting
There are 3 types of dry fasting depend on the dry fast duration undertaken: intermittent dry fasting and prolonged dry fasting.
Intermittent dry fasting
Today’s most popular fasting is intermittent fasting (IF), which thousands practice and is the 16:8 method (water fasting 16 hours and feeding 8 hours). Intermittent dry fasting (IDF) follows the same principle of fasting, providing within a time frame, and restricting water. IDF can be combined with other fasting strategies such as fasting 2 days a week (5:2), alternate-day fasting, or OMAD (One Meal A Day).
Thousands of Muslims practice intermittent dry fasting during the sunlight hours in the month of Ramadan (10–22 hours depending on the region).
Prolonged dry fasting
Prolonged dry fasting is fasting from 24 hours to 72 hours and should only be practiced by advanced fasting practitioners. The preparation for this physically, mentally, and emotionally is more demanding.
There are also combination types of fasting, such as the cascade method, which intersperses dry fasting with water fasting in increasing durations to achieve specific therapeutic results.
Extended (therapeutic) dry fasting
This is dry fasting for up to 11 days. These are specialized dry fasts for therapeutic reasons, mostly to cure chronic diseases or illnesses, although you can do them for overall well-being. They could completely rejuvenate your body, but this type of dry fasting requires extensive preparation. It can be a significant hindrance to your lifestyle. Unless you’ve done many prolonged dry fasts, you should not attempt fasting for over 5 days without medical supervision. The most extended recorded dry fast has been 18 days.
If you’re trying to decide how long you should be dry fasting, check out my article Dry Fasting: Days, Weeks, or Hours.
Water fasting vs. dry fasting
Water fasting (intermittent and prolonged) has become famous for its many benefits: it increases lifespan, fights cancer, increases insulin sensitivity, and aids weight loss, to name a few. However, water fasting is not a complete break for your body. In the absence of food, your body considers water food––but water is a highly deficient nutrient. Water fasting does not activate the same pathways as dry fasting, so you miss many incredible healing benefits.
Dry fasting stops all fluid intake and becomes a stress for your body. It forces your body to adapt and change its metabolic pathways and burn more fat to make metabolic water for all its functions.
Dry fasting activates a series of metabolic changes that renew your body and all its cells, tissues, and organs. Some of these changes also happen during intermittent water fasting and with prolonged water fasting; however, dry fasting is superior to both in its ability to heal the body.
Dry fasting is water fasting on hyperdrive. A 24-hour dry fast delivers the same physiological benefits as 72-hour water fast, so you have similar benefits but in a third of the time.
However, water fasting can be easier to start with, and a better option for prolonged fasting for some people. It also can be less complicated and challenging. In tandem with dry fasting, water fasting can be an incredible ally for total health.
If you want to know which fast is the best fast for you, read the article Which is Better: Dry Fasting vs. Water (Wet) Fasting.
Who can do it
Dry fasting has been recommended practice for centuries in multiple religions: Islam (Ramadan), Christianity (Lent and Advent), Judaism (Yom Kippur), Mormonism (Sundays, monthly), Hinduism (Ekadesi, fortnightly), as well as Buddhism and Jainism. If you’re in good health, not pregnant, and under 80 years old, dry fasting is generally safe for you.
Who shouldn’t do it
Like every health practice, some people should be more careful and avoid dry fasting altogether. These are:
- Pregnant & breastfeeding women
- People with medical conditions (diabetes, kidneys issues, etc.)
- Injured, stressed, or weak people
Dry fasting stages
The first stage of dry fasting happens when your body runs out of glucose and starts using glycogen for energy. This drops your blood sugar levels and insulin levels.
For most people, glucose runs out in 24 hours, although this depends on your body type, lifestyle, and diet.
Most people feel more thirsty in this stage because you’ll be making less metabolic water since your body is burning glycogen.
Once glycogen gets depleted, your body turns to fat. It goes towards the fat cells for its supply of glycerol and fatty acids––glycerol gets converted in your liver into glucose, and fatty acids get converted into ketones. When ketones build up in your body, it changes the pH of your blood, which means you’re in ketosis––and your body is fully burning fat for fuel. More fat is also burned to make water. You usually don’t feel so thirsty in this stage because your body is also making its own metabolic water.
If you have a thirst for the scientific, then get into the nitty-gritty biochemistry of dry fasting in the article Dry Fasting: The Science Behind This Incredible New Health Hack.
How to prepare for dry fasting
Plan your dry fast. Know why you’re fasting, your objective, and when you’re starting and ending the fast. Planning impacts your preparation, nutrition, social circumstances, ideal environment, and motivation.
You must educate yourself thoroughly on the protocols before and after dry fasting to know what to expect of the process and potential complications. But don’t just teach your mind about fasting; teach your body too. Suppose you’re planning to do a 24-hour or more extended dry fast. In that case, you should be fasting for longer periods leading up to the dry fast, doing more intermittent fasting, prolonged water fasting, and juice fasting.
Nutritional prep is also vital. Never go into a dry fast dehydrated and hydrate up to a week before. Before a prolonged dry fast, it’s crucial to do an internal cleanse of your liver and gut to remove more toxins and balance your gut microflora.
If you’re curious about how to prepare for dry fasting, check out What To Eat Before A Dry Fast? (Hint: Go With Your Gut!) and How To Prepare For A Dry Fast (in 10 steps).
Doing the dry fast
Stop drinking and eating at your planned time and distract yourself by working, reading, watching movies, or informational content. Dry fasting can also be tiring, so rest and take periodic naps. Nature walks give you energy, and calming activities, such as yoga, meditation, light weights, or resistance training, also work.
You should be in tune with your body’s signals if you’ve been practicing fasting, so you’ll know if you need to stop. Dizziness, lightheadedness, dark urine, dry skin, low blood pressure, and rapid heart rate could be signs of dehydration. If you’re losing balance or disoriented doing simple tasks, end the fast.
For more on doing a dry fast, check out How to Survive Your First Dry Fast (Step-by-Step).
How to break a dry fast
Know when you’re planning to break your fast and stick to it. You can extend if you feel well, but no need to stress yourself. Breaking the fast includes your first drink, your first meal, and then refeeding time. It would help if you planned the refeeding time to be twice the length of the fast.
The length of your fast determines what you drink and eat to break your fast. (Intermittent dry fasting practisers can be less fussy.)
Your first drink should be consumed slowly and stimulate your gut for food preparation. Some options for drinks:
- Kefir drink
- Sauerkraut juice
- Water with added probiotics (lactobacterin, bifidium, or LINEX)
- Water with apple cider vinegar
- Water with baking soda
- Kambucha (no sugar)
Choose a digestion-friendly, snack-sized portion of the unsalted protein or fatty food with complex carbs (if any) for your breakfast meal. Some of the snack-sized options include:
- Miso soup
- Fish broth
- Bone broth
- Probiotics – kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut
- Light salad with olive oil
A few hours later, you can have eggs and proteins like tofu with vegetables. Avoid meat on the first day. Eat more probiotic foods over four or five small meals, but keep your calorie count under half the day’s allowance. Chew food slowly, fully digesting it in your mouth. Make sure everything you eat the first day is unsalted!
On a full breakdown on breaking your dry fast, read my article The Complete Guide on How to Safely Break a 24-Hour Dry Fast.
Dry fasting benefits
Dry fasting has a long list of health benefits. It’s a full-body rejuvenation making you younger and improving all bodily functions to some extent. Benefits include weight loss, metabolism, lean muscle growth, autophagy, stem cell regeneration, aging, skin, vascular conditions.
It can also prevent diabetes, improve liver and kidney health, cognitive health, bone health, and gynecological conditions. It also controls and fights cancer, improves the digestive system, increases energy levels, enhances the immune system, is anti-inflammatory, reduces stress, and changes eating habits.
But don’t just take my word on it. For an ultra-long list of the benefits of dry fasting, with the scientific evidence to support them, check out 30 Mind-blowing Benefits Of Dry Fasting.
Dry fasting dangers & complications
Dry fasting is generally a safe process. However, these are some of the issues to consider when dry fasting, so keep a lookout.
Although dry fasting is possibly one of the safest types of fast when done correctly and for shorter periods. Fasting without following protocol and being experienced faster may cause some concerns. Some of the side effects can include hunger, weakness, chills, bad breath, headaches, disturbed sleep, pains, and poor skin. Some dangers include vertigo, dimmed vision, fainting, nausea, vomiting, regurgitation, palpitations, heartache, and dehydration.
It’s always best to err on the side of caution, so find out more Dry Fasting: Safety, Risks, Dangers & Side Effects.
Dry fasting results
One of the apparent results of dry fasting on the internet is drastic weight loss- fuelled by images across the internet of people who have lost 10 pounds after just a few days. Although most water loss during a dry fast is water weight, you can also see sustained weight loss if appropriately handled.
Many dry fasters also report lesser allergies, fewer grey hairs, and softer, smoother skin. As a whole many dry fasters feel more energetic, lighter, and renewed, even thinking more clearly and focusing for more extended periods.
Results of dry fasting can differ significantly depending on age, gender, nutrition, health, metabolism, dry fasting duration and regularity, and multiple other factors. Still, as a whole, regular practice of dry fasting makes you feel more and more in the prime of your life.
Aging is defined as an ‘accumulation of changes in the organism, increasing the probability of death of a given individual over the course of time.’ This simply means that aging is a slow accumulation of pathological (unhealthy) changes in the organs and tissues, injuries in the structures of the body and a slow deterioration of its vital functions. Old age is just another chronic disease.— Dr. Sergey Filonov
***Disclaimer: I am not a doctor/ physician, and although I have a bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Science, I cannot and do not hold myself to be a medical professional (“Medical Provider”). This article does not contain medical /health advice. The medical/ health information here is for general and educational purposes only. It is my opinion, based on my research and personal experience, and not a substitute for professional advice by your health care provider. Please consult with a professional before acting on the information here, and do not disregard medical advice or delay seeking medical attention because of anything you read on this article. THE USE OR RELIANCE OF ANY OF THE INFORMATION ON THIS WEBSITE IS SOLELY AT YOUR OWN RISK.***
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