Fasting involves abstaining from food or drink for a predefined period. While people may fast for various reasons, including ethical, religious, or for better health, the duration and fasting methods may vary. From complete fasting to partial, lengthy, intermittent short fasting practices, people use many fasting variations.
Research indicates many health benefits of fasting when practiced appropriately . For instance, intermittent fasting is a safe method for many people who strive to achieve a healthy weight. From improving cognitive functions to maintaining a healthy gut and lowering stress and inflammation, fasting also helps improve insulin resistance. 
Whether you resort to a dry fast or wish to observe a water-only fast, in both cases, you should stick to appropriate fasting guidelines to ensure maximum benefits. If you are a beginner and unsure which type of fasting would suit your needs and health goals better, this article has you covered.
Here, we seek to share a comprehensive guide to draw a comparison between dry fast and water fast. This way, you can find the most suitable fasting practice for yourself.
What is the Difference Between Dry Fasting and Water Fasting?
Different fasting methods are characterized by different requirements and offer various benefits. Find out more about how both these methods are exclusive.
What is the Purpose of a Dry Fast?
Dry fasting can also be referred to as absolute fasting. It involves restricting both food and liquids during fasting. It means you won’t be allowed to drink fluids, including water, broth, tea, or any other beverage during your fast.
While many fasts allow calorie-free fluid intake during the fasting window, dry fasting requires you to entirely forgo any liquid or solid intake. The purpose of dry fasting is to provide your body with absolute rest from food or drinks to enhance immunity and help manage weight . Sometimes, the reasons for dry fasting could be religious. For example, Muslims fast during the month of Ramadan, and Jews fast during Yom Kippur.
When the body does not receive water or any other liquid, it burns fat to generate energy. The absence of water stresses the body and makes it consume every bit of energy it has to keep the internal system functioning as necessary. Dry fasting can strengthen your body’s immune system and is a great way to trigger cell regeneration. 
What is the Purpose of Water Fast?
As opposed to dry fasting, water fasting doesn’t allow you to consume anything during the fast except water. If you wonder whether it is safe, studies indicate it is. 
Most water fasts last 24-72 hours, and it is not recommended to go beyond that without proper medical supervision as it can be risky.
Water fasting is practiced for various reasons, including religious or spiritual, weight loss, detoxification, or when preparing for a surgical procedure. Water fasting has been known to improve health in several ways, including managing heart health and diabetes. 
Types of Dry Fast and Water Fast
Here are the different types of dry or water fast.
Types of Dry Fasting
Dry fasting can be approached in many different ways. Some of these include:
- Intermittent fasting: You can choose an intermittent fasting cycle that demarcates the eating and fasting window. There are different types of intermittent fasting methods, such as the 16/8, 20/4, 14/10, and 5:2. You can select a fasting plan that suits your needs and system.
- Alternate fasting: It is fasting done every other day, effectively correlating to a 24-hour fast where you follow the dry fasting rules on the fasting day.
- Eat-stop-eat: It is also a viable method that can be followed where you dry fast for 24 hours once or twice a week, but not on consecutive days.
- Period fasting: In this form of fasting, your food and liquid diet are restricted for a set number of days, such as observing a three-day dry fast every month.
You can choose between two types of dry fasting, depending on what works for you. These are soft and hard dry fast.
What is a Soft Dry Fast?
Soft dry fasting is a method where you can use water but only for your daily ablution, such as brushing your teeth, taking a bath, washing your face, etc. However, you cannot drink water. It is relatively easier to follow.
What is a Hard Dry Fast?
A hard dry fast, on the other hand, is when you do not use water in any shape, way, or form. Activities such as brushing, bathing, etc., can bring the risk of water getting in your mouth, and you could accidentally swallow some of it without realizing it. Hence it includes absolute abstinence. However, hard dry fasting can put your body through immense stress.
Types of Water Fasting
There are no specific types or scientific guidelines for a water fast. However, water fasts typically last for 24–72 hours. During this period, you can only consume water and no other liquid or food. Most people consume 2-3 liters of water daily during a water fast.
However, after a water fast, you should resist the urge to indulge in a big meal, as it could cause discomfort. It is better to break your fast with smaller meals or light beverages.
How To Decide Between Dry or Water Fast?
Depending on your comfort level and health conditions, you can choose between a dry or water fast to see what works best. While you can attempt either of the fasting methods as a beginner, ensure to start with a relatively shorter duration before embarking on longer fasts.
If you feel comfortable restricting food and liquids altogether for a certain duration, a dry fast could be a good choice. However, if going without water feels unimaginable, you might want to adopt the water-only fasting method. In either case, these fasting methods call for strict dietary measures, and it is best to consult a medical practitioner before beginning them. You should be cautious if you have a medical condition or have been taking medication.
Who Should Do Dry Fasting?
Anyone seeking to manage weight, improve immunity levels, or alter eating habits for a healthier self can undertake dry fasting. People with strong willpower can choose dry fasting for more pronounced health benefits.
Who Should Do Water Fasting?
If you are looking forward to a fasting mechanism that can activate your metabolism and help you manage weight, water fasting is a viable method that assures appropriate hydration. People with acidic stomachs should choose water fasting over a dry fast.
Dry Fasting vs. Water Fasting: Benefits
Different fasting plans offer distinct benefits. Knowing what they are can help you find a plan that fits your needs and preferences.
Benefits of Dry Fasting
The advantages of dry fasting include:
- It can help achieve short-term weight loss.
- It can improve your immune function and reset it by eliminating damaging cells and helping your body regenerate cells. Hence, it slows down aging. 
- Reduces inflammation. 
- It can benefit your skin. Better metabolism due to dry fasting can boost antioxidants that strike the free radicals present in your body to slow down aging naturally, rendering a youthful appearance. 
Benefits of Water Fasting
Water fasting makes you enjoy a score of advantages, such as;
- It activates your metabolism and aids in preparing your system for the rest of the day.
- Fasting can cause dehydration, but the body doesn’t get dehydrated during a water fast.
- Water fasting improves the oxygen supply in the body.
- Drinking water has myriad benefits, including cleansing of your kidneys. When you consume water during a fast, your kidneys are better equipped to perform the diuresis process to generate urine, thus eliminating toxins and other unnecessary substances from your body.
- With water fasting, you can expect your body to absorb nutrients better. Water is required to transport nutrients from the blood to the cells.
- As water ensures hydration, you can enjoy healthier, smoother, and more elastic skin when water fasting.
- If you are seeking better muscle and joint health, water fasting could be a stepping stone to achieving more flexibility.
Dry Fasting vs. Water Fasting: What Should You Avoid?
When adopting a new fasting routine, it is essential to understand what works, but it is even more important to know what doesn’t or what you should avoid in the process.
Common Dry Fasting Mistakes
Not eating or drinking water properly during the building phase is a common mistake that most people make. Sticking to the fasting schedule and not overdoing it is essential, as it can do more harm than good.
It is also equally important not to binge on junk food while eating during the feeding window. Dry fasting, done correctly, can reduce your appetite over time, helping you eat just what your body needs and not give in to psychological cravings.
Eating clean in the post-fasting period can help sustain the benefits of dry fasting, while overeating will pressurize and stress the digestive system. Maintain a balanced diet during the eating window.
Common Water Fasting Mistakes
While only water is allowed during water fasting, people often make the mistake of drinking low-calorie drinks during this fasting practice.
Beverages such as soda, sweet tea, energy drinks, coffee, smoothies, alcohol, milk, etc., should be avoided while water fasting. Moreover, pulp-free fruit juices are also not allowed in intermittent fasting owing to their sugar and calorie content. It is advisable to avoid drinking sugarless coffee or tea during your water fasting regime; instead, you should stick to plain water.
Is it okay to water fast for a week if it’s my first time fasting?
Water fast is only recommended for 24-72 hours, and not drinking water for an extended period should be avoided unless under expert supervision. It is better to take it slow when fasting for the first time to see how it works for your body, as some people might feel weak or dizzy during a water fast.
How many days are recommended for dry fasting without drinking water?
The 12-hour dry fasting schedule can be continued for five to six days.
Does water fasting help in weight and fat reduction?
Water fasting can help you lose weight quickly. Studies show that you can lose about 9 kilograms (20 pounds) in three days by drinking nothing but water. However, this weight loss is mainly water, carbs, and muscle mass, and not fat.
Why do I feel extremely sleepy while dry fasting?
Many people experience fatigue and low energy while dry fasting as low blood sugar levels can cause tiredness and weakness.
The decision between water fasting and dry fasting should be based primarily on personal preference. If you want to take up a more challenging fast and get quick benefits, then dry fasting is the way to go. However, if you want to keep it as healthy as possible, choose water fasting.
Now that you know how both fasting methods work, you should choose the one that works best for your body and your fasting goals. To make achieving your fitness goals easier, you can check out our fitness calculators.
You should try a water fast before attempting a strict dry fast. In the case of any pre-existing disease, pregnancy, or other physical condition, check with your doctor before beginning any fasting routine.
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