A “traditional” fast involves ingesting only water for a set amount of time. A dry fast is when you don’t ingest anything, including water, because you are a crazy person. Extra crazy people will avoid all contact with water, even bathing, which is called a “hard” dry fast. If you are ok risking a bit of water consumption through the skin, you can brush your swampy desert mouth, which is a “soft” fast.
I recently tried a soft dry fast, trying to challenge myself a little more than a traditional 23 hour fast (which I do 3-5 times a week) or a 48 hour fast (which I do every couple of weeks). Before you wonder why I like to torture myself by not eating, it’s not really torture for me. I’m not a hungry person by nature, so fasting comes pretty easily to me.
But dry fasting? That shit is hard. Before I say how it went for me, here’s why someone might consider dry fasting… or any fasting, honestly.
Obviously fasting gets rid of fat cells faster than calorie reduction, because in the absence of all food, your body switches over to using fat for fuel. But. The coolest part is that your body also needs some protein to operate, and contrary to what most people think, it doesn’t just eat up all your muscles overnight when you don’t eat. It might eat up a smidge of muscle, but what it really prefers is your old shitty cells that aren’t a pulling their own weight anymore.
Each cell in the body is made up of different parts. I’m not a scientist, so I’m not going to look up what everything is called for you. But I’m sure you can remember back to high school biology – there’s a nucleus and a… mitochondria? Anyway, after a while, the stuff in your cells gets all old and raggedy. When you aren’t getting protein from your food, your body will use the junky shit from your cells for food. Then the cell makes a new whatever-just-got-cleaned-out, and boom. You’ve got a shiny new cell and you’ve tapped into the fountain of youth. That process is called autophagy, which literally means “self eating,” or something like that.
There are people who have lost hundreds of pounds and have virtually no loose skin because they’ve fasted periodically in the process and their bods just ate that stuff right up (over, like, months and years. You can’t just do it one time and get rid of your jiggly bits). People also report that skin tags fall off and fatty cists dissolve. Weird and awesome, right?
There’s conflicting thoughts about when autophagy starts. Some scientists think you need at least 24-36 hours of fasting to start eating your crap cells, but some researchers think a smidge of autophagy starts happening at hour 16. One thing everyone can agree on, though, is that dry fasting speeds up the process of getting to autophagy.
24 hours of dry fasting is equal to 3 days of traditional fasting, and the end results are allegedly 3-5 times that of a one day fast with water. Over my 8 day fast, I lost like 3/4 a pound per day (actually 1 1/2 pounds but I gained half of it back immediately with water consumption). So if your body is like mine, you could do some math and figure out how much fat you’d lose over a 24 hour dry fast.
So what was it like? Kind of shitty. Firstly, the decision is yours if you even want to try fasting at all, and you should probs check with your doctor. But if you do decide to try it, is recommend doing it on a day that you can just lay around or sleep. I went to work and by hour 20, I felt like a bag of ass. Also make sure you’re super hydrated before you start your dry fast. I started mine kind of on a whim, so I don’t think my insides were very moisturized to begin with.
Over the course of the fast, I felt increasingly thirsty and worn down. Even my eyes were dry (contact lens wearers beware – I had to take my lenses out and put my glasses on because my contacts felt like cornflakes in my eyes).
When it was time to break my fast, i sipped water for an hour and then allowed myself to chug it. Then over the evening, my hunger was insatiable and I think I ate like 3 days worth of food at one go.
As far as weight loss, I lost 4 pounds and gained 2 back.
Will I do it again? Probably not. And I wouldn’t really recommend it, either, for those just looking to lose weight. If your reasons for fasting are medical, or you’re interested in the anti-cancer and Alzheimer’s prevention benefits, absolutely think about trying it. But for weight loss, there’s just more pleasant and less uncomfortable ways to get there. Fasting with black coffee, water, and diet soda might not be a “true” fast, but it’s good enough for me.