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Fasting is becoming more and more popular.

You have intermittent fasting, alternate day fasting, 24-hour fasting, the 5:2 diet, and endless other variations.

And most of these methods don’t seem all that difficult or complex.

Instead of evenly spacing your meals throughout the day, you eat all of your calories in a shorter period of time (usually 4 to 10 hours) and you don’t eat the rest of the time.

According to some, though, there’s a better mousetrap out there—water fasting.

As you can guess, water fasting involves abstaining from all forms of food or drink except water, and you keep this up for anywhere from a day to several weeks.

You don’t have to look far to find stories of people who swear water fasting offers all kinds of benefits, including: 

  • Effortless weight loss
  • More energy
  • Improved complexion
  • Slowed aging
  • Better health
  • And more . . . 

Sounds good so far.

To many people, the most appealing part of water fasting is it’s so simple.

You never have to wonder what you can or can’t eat during the fast. You don’t have to make shakes or meal replacements or take supplements. You don’t have to plan your meals.

All you have to do is stop eating and drinking anything except water, and you’ll look sexier, feel better, be healthier in a few days, the water fasting proponents say.

Sure, you’ll be hungry some of the time, but it’s not that bad.

At least that’s what everyone on the Internet tells you.

You have your doubts, though, too.

It has the stamp of “too good to be true” written all over it, and if it doesn’t deliver on these promises, you’ll have suffered for no reason.

And yet . . . what if it only helped you lose a few pounds, or have slightly clearer skin, or gave you a little more energy, wouldn’t it be worth it?

In a word, no.

Water fasting will help you lose weight, but not because there’s something unique about only drinking water for a few days. Chances are also good that you won’t be happy with how you look at the end of your self-imposed starvation experiment.

It’s also not going to “detox” your body, improve your skin complexion, or do much of anything else for you except make you really, really hungry for a few days.

In this podcast, you’re going to learn why water fasting is an unhealthy way to lose weight and what you should do instead.

Let’s get started.

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Water fasting is often recommended to lose weight quickly and detox your body, but does it work and is it a smart evidence based way to accomplish those things? That’s what we’re going to be talking about here. As the name implies, it is a dietary protocol that entails eating Nothing. You just drink water.

You can have some electrolytes. You can take a multivitamin, but no food or calories whatsoever for a certain period of time. And so basically it is the most extreme form of crash or starvation dieting you can engage in. But, because it is associated with fasting, many people think it is acceptable, or even healthy.

For example, it is often claimed that water fasting not only helps you lose a bunch of weight and a bunch of fat, but it helps clear your body of toxins. Toxins, which then reduces the risk of disease and dysfunction and just improves overall health and wellbeing. Now, how well does it work? Let’s talk about weight loss.

Yes, you can lose a lot of weight very quickly with water fasting. No question. You can lose five or 10 pounds in a week if you can do it for a week. And if that sounds impossible to you, I understand. But there are people who do that. So generally, these protocols call for one day to maybe five or seven days of pure fasting.

That said, you have to remember though, most of that weight that you’re losing is not fat, but water. And glycogen, which is a form of carbohydrate that’s stored in your muscles and in your liver. So while it can be motivating and it can be encouraging to see the scale dropping quickly, understand that is not exclusively body fat.

In fact, most of what you’re losing in the beginning when you just stop eating food is water and. Glycogen. Now, some people say that is not the case with water fasting. They say it is the case with just very low calorie dieting, especially low calorie dieting that includes carbohydrates. But because with water fasting, you are not eating anything, including any carbohydrates.

They say that ramps up your body’s ketone production or puts it into a state of ketosis, which really boosts fat burning above and beyond normal levels. And this is simply not true. Yes, your body does ramp up ketone production when carbohydrate intake is low. And yes, it does burn those ketones for energy, but there’s no evidence to suggest that there’s something magical about that in terms of overall fat loss.

And what is often Used to indicate otherwise is that research shows when you follow a low carbohydrate diet and ketone production is higher that you’re burning more fat on the whole. And yes, that’s true because that means that you’re going to be eating more fat and therefore your body’s going to burn what it has available and it has a lot of fat available and very little carbohydrate available.

Then it’s going to burn fat and it’s going to burn ketones. But when you look at. Total fat loss, which is really what we care about here. We don’t care about mechanistic differences. We care about bottom line results. Studies show that very low carb dieting does not result in faster fat loss than higher carb dieting.

If protein and calories are matched. And because we’re talking ketosis and ketones, I should also mention that supplementing with exogenous ketones isn’t going to do anything either. You’re not going to lose more fat or accomplish anything really by supplementing with exogenous ketones on top of the water fast or intermittent fast or very low carb diet.

Anyway, back to water fasting. Something else you should keep in mind. Regarding weight loss in particular is because you are not eating any food and that means you are not having any fiber for anywhere from let’s say one to three, five, even seven days. That too is going to contribute to a lower body weight because normally you’re carrying around food in your gut at all times and when you evacuate all that food and don’t eat then to replace it, your body weight is lower.

Of course, then when you do start eating that weight comes back and it could be two, three, even four pounds that will immediately come back and mysteriously to people who don’t quite understand what’s going on. Okay, so now let’s touch on toxins quickly because this is another selling point of not just water fasting, but fasting in general, particularly intermittent fasting, but we’ll focus on water fasting here.

And the pitch is that we have these toxins, these poisons in our body. Lodged in our fatty tissues, for example, and by fasting, we can clear them out. Now what’s true here is we do have toxic chemicals in our body right now that we’re carrying around and many are actually lodged in our fat cells and can become dislodged and can get back into the blood and negatively affect our body.

But, there’s no evidence that fasting can change that. You cannot detox your body by just not eating food for a couple days. I wish you could. I wish there were good evidence. I would be happy to do it myself, but studies have shown that does not work. And ironically, water fasting could accomplish the opposite.

It could impair our body’s natural ability to detox itself because it could impair liver function if you go too long without eating. Hey, before we continue, if you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, and if you want to help me help more people get into the best shape of their lives, please consider checking out my VIP membership.

One on one coaching service. Now, my team and I have helped thousands of people of all ages, circumstances, and needs, so no matter how complicated or maybe even hopeless you might think your situation is, we will figure out how to get you the results you want. Every diet and training program we create is 100 percent custom.

We provide daily workout logs, and we do weekly accountability calls. Our clients get priority email service, as well as discounts on supplements, and the list goes on and on. To learn more, just head over to legionathletics. com slash coaching. And if you like what schedule your free consultation call.

Now there’s normally a wait list to work with our coaches and new slots do fill up very quickly. So if this sounds even remotely interesting to you, head over to legionathletics. com slash coaching now and schedule your free consultation call and let’s see if our program is a good fit for you. Another common claim made to support water fasting and just fasting in general is anti aging.

And oftentimes what the proponents refer to as something called autophagy. And they say that water fasting and intermittent fasting, really any form of fasting ramps up autophagy and that in turn can help you age slower or even age backward. Now, autophagy is a very important. Process in the body whereby it gets rid of damaged cells and unwanted and redundant parts of cells.

It is like the body or you say it’s not like a janitorial service at the cellular level. And research does show that autophagy plays an important role in aging and that it does tend to decline as we get older. And there is evidence to suggest that fasting may enhance autophagy in some ways, but the evidence is sparse and unclear.

And especially in the context of someone like me, and probably you, somebody who eats well, who exercises regularly, who pays attention to their sleep hygiene and so forth. What we do know is those things, the fundamentals of healthy living certainly do support healthy autophagy levels in the body.

What we don’t know though, is if you are doing those things, does adding any sort of fasting protocol on top of that accomplish anything? And based on my understanding of the current literature, I’m going to say the effects are probably a lot less pronounced than the big fasting advocates out there would have you believe.

I’m going to say that the evidence is pointing in the direction of negligible effects as far as autophagy is concerned. And that, by the way, seems to be the story with not just water fasting, but intermittent fasting, any sort of fasting that for those of us who are doing the most important things, mostly right for those of us who are eating well, who are exercising regularly, training our muscles, maintaining a healthy body composition, sleeping enough, fasting probably doesn’t have much of anything to offer us.

Outside of dietary compliance, meaning if we like it and it just helps us hit our calories and our macros better and just enjoy our eating regimen more, that’s the only reason to do it. Anyway, back to water fasting. The last point I want to touch on here is the health aspect of it. Is it healthy to do?

If you are going to do, let’s say a 24 hour Water fast, or maybe less let’s say 18 to 24 hour water fast to make sure you drink enough water and have some electrolytes, maybe take a multivitamin. I don’t think there’s anything to worry about there. I don’t see why that would pose any serious health risk.

Oh, and it also shouldn’t negatively impact your body composition. Either, you obviously are gonna lose a bit more fat than usual during that period because your calorie intake is gonna be at zero but you won’t lose any significant amount of muscle. Research shows that true lean muscle tissue loss doesn’t even really begin until probably the 16 hour mark when you’re fasting.

And even then, when it does begin, it’s a slow and slight process, so if by the end of your 24 hour water fast you lost a little bit of muscle, I’m talking about so little, that you would just immediately gain it back after your first workout following the fast. Now, I don’t recommend water fasting for longer than that.

I don’t recommend going for longer than let’s say 24 hours because you can start to lose more muscle. The longer you go without food, the more muscle breakdown ramps up and you run the risk of dehydration if you don’t drink enough water. And then on the other hand, if you drink too much water, you can develop a condition called hyponatremia, which can result in brain swelling and even heart failure.

And as you can tell, I’m not a big proponent of water fasting. If you want to do an 18 to 24 hour fast every week or every two weeks, I think that’s fine. And some people do like to do that. Some people like to do it. Do it as a point of discipline, just to help control their desire to eat food. Some people like to do it to lose a bit of fat, because if you go 24 hours without food, you could lose maybe a half a pound of fat, maybe a little bit more, depending on how active you are.

During that day. And if you do that, let’s say once every seven to 10 days, that can help with maintenance. For example, I wouldn’t recommend doing that if you are cutting, but if you’re maintaining some people like to do it while lean bulking as well, it can help you just keep your body fat percentage more in the range that you want it to be in.

And some people like to fast because they like how they feel when they’re fasting, and they like how they feel after. And those are also fine reasons to do it. I just recommend that you do it right. So if you want to do a strict water fast, no more than 24 hours. And if you want to do an intermittent fasting type of approach, where you are just restricting your feeding periods, that’s okay as well.

I like Martin Burkhand’s lean gains protocol the most for those of us who care about our body composition. And if you are wanting to drive weight loss, especially kickstart weight loss results in the beginning of a cut, and especially if you have a lot of fat to lose. So if you’re a guy, let’s say over 15 percent body fat or a woman over 25 percent body fat, and let’s say you’re quite a bit over and you’re about to start a cut and it’s going to be a longer one.

And if you want to give yourself a jolt of motivation in the beginning, then I don’t recommend water fasting. I recommend a protein sparing modified fast PSMF, which you can learn about by searching on my podcast feed or here in my YouTube channel because I recorded a podcast slash YouTube video on it.

On that specifically. So again, if you want to drive weight loss and if you want to, let’s say, lose anywhere from two to six or even eight pounds of fat per week for a couple of weeks, then go with a protein sparing modified fast, not a water fast.

All right. That’s it for today’s episode. I hope you found it interesting and helpful. And if you did, and you don’t mind doing me a favor, could you please leave a quick review for the podcast on iTunes or wherever you are listening from? Because those reviews not only convince people that they should check out the show, they also increase the search visibility and help more people find their way to me.

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