Fasting is gaining popularity as more and more people turn to viable diet options for a healthier body and mind. Fasting has been prevalent for ages across various cultures, especially for religious and spiritual reasons. However, over the past few years, fasting has evolved as a method of detoxification and weight loss.
In this article, we’ll focus on the water fast, specifically the 10-day water fast.
A water fast can be done for 12 hours, 24 hours, 48 hours, 72 hours or more. Once you are comfortable with a shorter fasting duration, you can try a five or seven-day water fast before beginning a 10-day water fast.
Based on my experience, adopting water fast in stages can better equip you for extended fasting periods. I started my fasting journey with the 16:8 IF method, followed by the 24-hour IF, where I would go completely without food or caloric beverages for a complete day.
In about a month, I was ready to try the 2-day water fast. Although it wasn’t that easy, I managed it well, hoping to pull off the 10-day water fast soon. Starting the WF with a shorter fasting duration made adapting to the 10-day fast easier.
So, here I am discussing the nuances of a 10-day water fast based on my personal experience. I hope it will help you get clarity on how it is done.
In this article, we discuss what a 10-day water fast means, its benefits, and drawbacks, and address some common queries.
What is a Water Fast?
WF is a fasting method that requires you to abstain from all kinds of food and caloric beverages for a certain period. It allows you to consume only water during the fasting period.
What is a 10-Day Water Fast?
As the name suggests, a 10-day water fast is an extended fasting period where you go without food or caloric beverages for 10 complete days. You cannot consume anything other than plain water during these fasting days.
Although people may fast for different reasons, if you are fasting for weight loss, it is important to understand how a prolonged 10-day water fast can get you closer to your fitness goals.
A water fast can be regarded as an extension of IF. For instance, the alternate day IF is similar to a 24-hour water fast, where you will follow a normal eating pattern for one day and fast for the subsequent 24 hours. Like IF, in water fast, you must abstain from any food or caloric beverage for a day.
While that was a reference to 24-hour water fast, the fasting dynamics may change when you decide to fast for 10 days straight. So, let’s discuss the potential benefits of a 10-day WF to see how it can facilitate your weight management goals.
How is a 10-Day Water Fast Beneficial For Weight Loss?
Let’s discuss some of the benefits of a 10-day water fast.
1. Transition to Ketosis
When you begin a water fast, you lose mostly water weight for the first two days. Only after 48 hours of abstaining from food or caloric drinks does your body kickstart the fat-burning process. Once fasting extends beyond 48 hours, your body begins to deplete its glucose reserves. Once the glycogen reserves are exhausted, the body turns to the stored fat for energy.
This process, where the stored fat is broken into ketone bodies for energy, is known as ketosis. Ketosis is known for several health benefits, such as improved insulin resistance, weight loss, and relieving the signs of metabolic syndrome. (2)
While the stored fat provides energy to carry on voluntary and involuntary bodily functions during a water fast, you rely on water as the lone source of nourishment. This water can help you eliminate toxins and flush out any waste in the colon.
2. Offers Better Control Over Cravings
During a prolonged WF, your body can reboot itself as it is not fed with any processed or refined food. Highly processed, refined, and sugary food items are not just bad for the gut but can rule your taste buds. Food high in sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats can make your body crave more of such food by releasing dopamine.
Water fast for prolonged periods can reset your dietary choices, allowing you to easily adopt a healthier diet and keep unwanted cravings for processed and refined foods at bay. (3)
3. Promotes weight loss
However, it is important to do this under the supervision of a nutritionist, especially if you are new to fasting or have any pre-existing medical conditions. The initial weight loss could be attributed to the loss of extracellular water and possibly muscle mass. However, studies reveal that protein loss in the early fasting days may decrease over a period as ketogenesis increases. (6)
4. Induces Cell Repair and Autophagy
It plays a critical role in the prevention of many diseases, such as autoimmune disorders, neurodegenerative diseases, cancer, diabetes, and many other ailments. It can also slow down aging and enhance longevity. (9)
Extended fasts like a 10-day water fast can boost autophagy.
5. Reduces Oxidative Stress
Oxidative stress is a condition where your body experiences an imbalance between the generation of free radicals and its ability to detoxify the harmful effects of those free radicals. Oxidative stress can cause several medical conditions and ailments, such as neurodegenerative diseases, cancer, inflammatory diseases, and many more pathogenic conditions.
Studies reveal that prolonged fasting can curb oxidative stress by elevating antioxidants and maintaining cellular redox homeostasis. (10)
Challenges of a 10-Day Water Fast
Here are the most common challenges of a 10-day water fast:
You may Experience Certain Side Effects
Despite the array of benefits that a 10-day water fast offers, prolonged fasts of up to 10 days or more could adversely impact your health. (11)
As an extreme fasting method that eliminates food and caloric beverages for 10 days, this water fast method can also result in dehydration and loss of lean muscle and trigger other pathogenic conditions.
Other risks that a 10-day water fast can pose include nausea, headaches, lightheadedness, constipation, blurry vision, instability of mood, insomnia, and constipation.
Prolonged fasting, where the body is deprived of all kinds of food, can cause nutritional deficiencies, including mineral and protein loss. (12)
For people with pre-existing health conditions, it would be best to consult a trained healthcare professional before beginning a 10-day-long fast.
May Trigger Refeeding Syndrome
Refeeding syndrome can cause more damage than just nullifying your fasting goals. During the 10 days of water fasting, your digestive system gets into a resting and healing mode. You only consume water and maybe non-caloric electrolyte supplements to replenish your body during the fast. Feeding yourself food and calories upon breaking a prolonged fast can throw the body’s electrolyte and fluid balance out of balance.
To prevent refeeding syndrome after a 10-day water fast, choosing the right food to break your fast without being harsh on the digestive system is important. Planning your meals can be a great idea. You can choose foods that are easily digestible and avoid refined, and processed foods. Also, consider eating smaller portions when breaking a fast.
Frequently Asked Questions
How should I prepare for a 10-day water fast?
You can prepare for a 10-day water fast in the following way:
- Consult a medical practitioner to check for any underlying or pre-existing health condition. This will help you rule out risks associated with prolonged fasting.
- If you are new to fasting, consider beginning with a shorter duration. This will enable your body to adjust to the non-feeding periods smoothly.
- You can gradually extend your fasts once your body adjusts to shorter fasting periods. You can level up a 10-day water fast in stages, beginning with a 24-hour fast and then increasing it by a day or two at a time, depending on your comfort level.
- Prepare yourself physically for the fast. Plan your meals for the pre-fast and post-fasting period. Ensure you eat healthy food and avoid consuming processed, refined, and sugary food, be it before or after breaking a fast.
- Prepare mentally for the fast, as a 10-day water fast requires determination and overcoming any fears associated with prolonged fasts.
- Drink plenty of water during your fast and include non-caloric electrolytes to keep yourself well hydrated throughout the fasting period.
How to break a 10-day water fast?
You can break your 10-day water fast with light, easily digestible food. As your digestive system would be in resting mode from the prolonged water fast, you can introduce small portions of fruits or boiled vegetables to avoid pressurizing your system with calorie-dense food when breaking a fast. You can continue drinking plenty of healthy fluids to allow your digestive system to adjust to solids gradually.
What are the side effects of a 10-day water fast?
Although a 10-day water fast, when done correctly or under proper medical supervision, may not have any adverse side effects, some people may experience the following symptoms.
- Fatigue, weakness, headaches, nausea, and light-headedness or fainting.
- Refeeding syndrome post-fast.
- Nutritional deficiencies, however, can be mostly reverted once you return to a normal and healthy diet after the fast.
- You may experience dehydration if you don’t drink adequate water or consume necessary electrolyte supplements during fasting.
A 10-day water fast is an extreme form of fasting, though it can be effective in losing weight. However, it is best to weigh the pros and cons before beginning this prolonged fast. While this fasting method can offer several health benefits, it could pose certain health risks resulting from prolonged non-feeding periods. Watch out for the signs that indicate to stop fasting.
It is not advisable to do a 10-day fast for the long term. Fasting methods such as intermittent fasting can make a better option as it can be easily integrated into your everyday routine.
Although I have tried a 10-day water fast, I would suggest that my readers choose a shorter one. Try the 5-day water fast as it is comparatively more practical.
While fasting is a powerful tool that can positively impact your health, body, and mind, you must understand how your body responds to a fast before attempting a full-fledged 10-day fast. It would be wise to seek the advice of a health professional if you are unsure whether a prolonged fast would suit your health and fitness goals.
If you don’t follow mindfulness in your everyday diet, gaining weight after a 10-day water fast is guaranteed. You can use this water fasting calculator to track your weight loss progress.
Also, exercise, eat healthy, get enough sleep, and stay stress-free for the best fasting results in the long run.
- Ezpeleta, M., Cienfuegos, S., Lin, S., Pavlou, V., Gabel, K., & Varady, K. A. (2023, June 27). Efficacy and safety of prolonged water fasting: a narrative review of human trials. Nutrition Reviews.
- Dowis, K., & Banga, S. (2021, May 13). The Potential Health Benefits of the Ketogenic Diet: A Narrative Review. Nutrients.
- Myers, T. R., Saul, B., Karlsen, M. C., Beauchesne, A. R., Glavas, Z., Ncube, M., Bradley, R., & Goldhamer, A. (2022, May 3). Potential Effects of Prolonged Water-Only Fasting Followed by a Whole-Plant-Food Diet on Salty and Sweet Taste Sensitivity and Perceived Intensity, Food Liking, and Dietary Intake. Cureus.
- PLOS ONE, 14(1), e0209353.
- Sanvictores, T. (2023, July 24). Physiology, Fasting. StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf.
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- Alirezaei, M. et al. (2010) Short-term fasting induces profound neuronal autophagy, Autophagy. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3106288/ (Accessed: 05 January 2024)
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- Bagherniya, M., Butler, A. E., Barreto, G. E., & Sahebkar, A. (2018, November 1). The effect of fasting or calorie restriction on autophagy induction: A review of the literature. Ageing Research Reviews.
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January 20, 2024
Dr. Rashmi Byakodi