From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Water fasting)

Fasting is the abstention from eating and sometimes drinking. From a purely physiological context, "fasting" may refer to the metabolic status of a person who has not eaten overnight (see "Breakfast"), or to the metabolic state achieved after complete digestion and absorption of a meal.[1] Metabolic changes in the fasting state begin after absorption of a meal (typically 3–5 hours after eating).

A diagnostic fast refers to prolonged fasting from 1 to 100 hours (depending on age) conducted under observation to facilitate the investigation of a health complication, usually hypoglycemia. Many people may also fast as part of a medical procedure or a check-up, such as preceding a colonoscopy or surgery, or before certain medical tests. Intermittent fasting is a technique sometimes used for weight loss that incorporates regular fasting into a person's dietary schedule. Fasting may also be part of a religious ritual, often associated with specific scheduled fast days, as determined by the religion, or by applied as a public demonstration for a given cause in a practice known as a hunger strike.

Health effects[edit]

Alternate-day fasting (alternating between a 24-hour "fast day" when the person eats less than 25% of usual energy needs, followed by a 24-hour non-fasting "feast day" period) has been shown to improve cardiovascular and metabolic biomarkers similarly to a calorie restriction diet in people who are overweight, obese or have metabolic syndrome.[2][3][4][5]

A 2021 review found that moderate alternate-day fasting for two to six months was associated with reductions of body weight, body mass index, and cardiometabolic risk factors in overweight or obese adults.[6]

When fasting around 24-72 hours it is advised[by whom?] that you are medically supervised in case you start to feel dizzy and weak.[citation needed] Health risks can be dangerous and should not be taken lightly.

Medical application[edit]

Fasting is almost always practiced prior to surgery or other procedures that require general anesthesia because of the risk of pulmonary aspiration of gastric contents after induction of anesthesia (i.e., vomiting and inhaling the vomit, causing life-threatening aspiration pneumonia).[7][8][9] Additionally, certain medical tests, such as cholesterol testing (lipid panel) or certain blood glucose measurements require fasting for several hours so that a baseline can be established.

Mental health[edit]

In one review, fasting improved alertness, mood, and subjective feelings of well-being, possibly improving overall symptoms of depression, and boosting cognitive performance.[10]

Weight loss[edit]

There is little evidence to suggest that intermittent fasting for periods shorter than 24 hours is effective for sustained weight loss in obese adults.[11][12]


There is no sound clinical evidence that fasting can promote longevity in humans.[13]

Adverse effects[edit]

Refeeding syndrome[edit]

Refeeding syndrome (RFS) is a metabolic disturbance which occurs as a result of reinstitution of nutrition in people and animals who are starved, severely malnourished, or metabolically stressed because of severe illness. When too much food or liquid nutrition supplement is eaten during the initial four to seven days following a malnutrition event, the production of glycogen, fat and protein in cells may cause low serum concentrations of potassium, magnesium and phosphate.[14][15] The electrolyte imbalance may cause neurologic, pulmonary, cardiac, neuromuscular, and hematologic symptoms—many of which, if severe enough, may result in death.

Refeeding syndrome can occur when someone does not eat for several days at a time usually beginning after 4–5 days with no food.[16]

Other effects[edit]

It has been argued that fasting makes one more appreciative of food,[11][17][18][19] and possibly drink.

Political application[edit]

Fasting is often used to make a political statement, to protest, or to bring awareness to a cause. A hunger strike is a method of non-violent resistance in which participants fast as an act of political protest, or to provoke feelings of guilt, or to achieve a goal such as a policy change. A spiritual fast incorporates personal spiritual beliefs with the desire to express personal principles, sometimes in the context of social injustice.[20]

The political leader Gandhi undertook several long fasts as political and social protests. Gandhi's fasts had a significant impact on the British Raj and the Indian population generally.[21]

In Northern Ireland in 1981, a prisoner, Bobby Sands, was part of the 1981 Irish hunger strike, protesting for better rights in prison.[22] Sands had just been elected to the British Parliament and died after 66 days of not eating. 100,000 people attended his funeral, and the strike ended only after nine other men died. In all, ten men survived without food for 46 to 73 days.

César Chávez undertook several spiritual fasts, including a 25-day fast in 1968 promoting the principle of nonviolence and a fast of 'thanksgiving and hope' to prepare for pre-arranged civil disobedience by farm workers.[20][23] Chávez regarded a spiritual fast as "a personal spiritual transformation".[24] Other progressive campaigns have adopted the tactic.[25]

Religious views[edit]

Fasting is practiced in various religions, and details of fasting practices differ.

Yom Kippur, Tisha B'av, Fast of Esther, Tzom Gedalia, the Seventeenth of Tamuz, the Tenth of Tevet, and Fast of the Firstborn are examples of fasting in Judaism.[26] Yom Kippur and Tisha B'Av are 25 hour fasts in which observers abstain from consuming any food or liquid from sunset until nightfall the next day and include other restrictions. The fasts of Esther, Gedalia, Tamuz, and Tevet all last from dawn until nightfall and therefore length varies depending on the time of the year. The Fast of the Firstborn is not biblically mandated and can therefore be ended early in the case of a seudat mitzvah.

Muslims fast during the month of Ramadan each year. The fast includes refraining from consuming any food or liquid from dawn until sunset. It is a religious obligation for all Muslims unless they are children or are physically unable to fast.

Lent is a common period of fasting in Christianity. Eastern Orthodox Christians fast during specified fasting seasons of the year, which include not only the better-known Great Lent, but also fasts on every Wednesday and Friday (except on special holidays), together with extended fasting periods before Christmas (the Nativity Fast), after Easter (the Apostles Fast) and in early August (the Dormition Fast).

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) generally abstain from food and drink for two consecutive meals in a 24-hour period on the first Sunday of each month and use the money they save for charity.[27]

Fasting is a feature of ascetic traditions in religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism.

Mahayana traditions that follow the Brahma's Net Sutra may recommend that the laity fast "during the six days of fasting each month and the three months of fasting each year".[28]

Members of the Baháʼí Faith observe a Nineteen Day Fast from sunrise to sunset during March each year.

In alternative medicine[edit]

Although practitioners of alternative medicine promote "cleansing the body" through fasting,[17] the concept of "detoxification“ is marketing myth with few scientific basis for its rationale or efficacy.[29][30]

During the early 20th century, fasting was promoted by alternative health writers such as Hereward Carrington, Edward H. Dewey, Bernarr Macfadden, Frank McCoy, Edward Earle Purinton, Upton Sinclair and Wallace Wattles.[31] All of these writers were either involved in the natural hygiene or new thought movement.[31] Arnold Ehret's pseudoscientific Mucusless Diet Healing System espoused fasting.[32]

Linda Hazzard, a notable quack doctor, put her patients on such strict fasts that some of them died of starvation. She was responsible for the death of more than 40 patients under her care.[33][34]

In 1911, Upton Sinclair authored The Fasting Cure, which made sensational claims of fasting curing practically all diseases, including cancer, syphilis, and tuberculosis.[35][36] Sinclair has been described as "the most credulous of faddists" and his book is considered an example of quackery.[36][37] In 1932, physician Morris Fishbein listed fasting as a fad diet and commented that "prolonged fasting is never necessary and invariably does harm".[38]

Types of Fasting[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "fasting | Definition, Description, Types, Benefits, & Facts". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 28 October 2021.
  2. ^ Cioffi I, Evangelista A, Ponzo V, Ciccone G, Soldati L, Santarpia L, et al. (December 2018). "Intermittent versus continuous energy restriction on weight loss and cardiometabolic outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials". Journal of Translational Medicine (Systematic review). 16 (1): 371. doi:10.1186/s12967-018-1748-4. PMC 6304782. PMID 30583725.
  3. ^ Harris L, Hamilton S, Azevedo LB, Olajide J, De Brún C, Waller G, et al. (February 2018). "Intermittent fasting interventions for treatment of overweight and obesity in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis" (PDF). JBI Database of Systematic Reviews and Implementation Reports. 16 (2): 507–547. doi:10.11124/JBISRIR-2016-003248. PMID 29419624. S2CID 46780578. Archived (PDF) from the original on 30 October 2019. Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  4. ^ Mattson MP, Longo VD, Harvie M (October 2017). "Impact of intermittent fasting on health and disease processes". Ageing Research Reviews. 39: 46–58. doi:10.1016/j.arr.2016.10.005. PMC 5411330. PMID 27810402.
  5. ^ Papamichou D, Panagiotakos DB, Itsiopoulos C (June 2019). "Dietary patterns and management of type 2 diabetes: A systematic review of randomised clinical trials". Nutrition, Metabolism, and Cardiovascular Diseases (Systematic review). 29 (6): 531–543. doi:10.1016/j.numecd.2019.02.004. PMID 30952576. S2CID 86497236.
  6. ^ Patikorn, Chanthawat; Roubal, Kiera; Veettil, Sajesh K.; Chandran, Viji; Pham, Tuan; Lee, Yeong Yeh; Giovannucci, Edward L.; Varady, Krista A.; Chaiyakunapruk, Nathorn (17 December 2021). "Intermittent fasting and obesity-related health outcomes: An umbrella review of meta-analyses of randomized clinical trials". JAMA Network Open. 4 (12): e2139558. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.39558. ISSN 2574-3805. PMC 8683964. PMID 34919135.
  7. ^ "Do You Need to Starve Before Surgery?". 25 March 2009. Archived from the original on 8 February 2011. Retrieved 18 October 2010.
  8. ^ Norman, Dr (17 April 2003). "Fasting before surgery – Health & Wellbeing". Archived from the original on 29 May 2010. Retrieved 18 October 2010.
  9. ^ "Anesthesia Information (full edition) | From Yes They're Fake!". 1 January 1994. Archived from the original on 12 November 2010. Retrieved 18 October 2010.
  10. ^ Fond, G; MacGregor, A; Leboyer, M; Michalsen, A (2013). "Fasting in mood disorders: Neurobiology and effectiveness. A review of the literature". Psychiatry Research. 209 (3): 253–258. doi:10.1016/j.psychres.2012.12.018. PMID 23332541. S2CID 39700065. Archived from the original on 17 June 2018. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  11. ^ a b Whitney, Eleanor Noss; Rolfes, Sharon Rady (2012). Understanding Nutrition. Cengage Learning. ISBN 978-1133587521. Archived from the original on 2 February 2017. Retrieved 22 January 2017.
  12. ^ Anton, Stephen D; Moehl, Keelin; Donahoo, William T; et al. (2017). "Flipping the Metabolic Switch: Understanding and Applying the Health Benefits of Fasting". Obesity. 26 (2): 254–268. doi:10.1002/oby.22065. PMC 5783752. PMID 29086496.
  13. ^ Lee MB, Hill CM, Bitto A, Kaeberlein M (November 2021). "Antiaging diets: Separating fact from fiction". Science. 374 (6570): eabe7365. doi:10.1126/science.abe7365. PMC 8841109. PMID 34793210.
  14. ^ Mehanna HM, Moledina J, Travis J (June 2008). "Refeeding syndrome: what it is, and how to prevent and treat it". BMJ. 336 (7659): 1495–8. doi:10.1136/bmj.a301. PMC 2440847. PMID 18583681.
  15. ^ Doig, GS; Simpson, F; Heighes; Bellomo, R; Chesher, D; Caterson, ID; Reade, MC; Harrigan, PWJ (1 December 2015). "Restricted versus continued standard caloric intake during the management of refeeding syndrome in critically ill adults: a randomised, parallel-group, multicentre, single-blind controlled trial". The Lancet Respiratory Medicine. 3 (12): 943–952. doi:10.1016/S2213-2600(15)00418-X. ISSN 2213-2619. PMID 26597128.
  16. ^ Webb GJ, Smith K, Thursby-Pelham F, Smith T, Stroud MA, Da Silva AN (2011). "Complications of emergency refeeding in anorexia nervosa: case series and review". Acute Medicine. 10 (2): 69–76. doi:10.52964/AMJA.0470. PMID 22041604.
  17. ^ a b Russell, Sharman Apt; Russell, Sharman (1 August 2008). Hunger: An Unnatural History. Basic Books. ISBN 978-0786722396. Archived from the original on 2 February 2017. Retrieved 22 January 2017.
  18. ^ Leonhardt, David (2013). Nine Habits of Happiness. DoctorZed Publishing. ISBN 9780980625998. Archived from the original on 2 February 2017. Retrieved 22 January 2017.
  19. ^ "Vegetarian Times". Active Interest Media, Inc. 1 October 1985. Archived from the original on 2 February 2017. Retrieved 22 January 2017.
  20. ^ a b Garcia, M. (2007) The Gospel of Cesar Chavez: My Faith in Action Sheed & Ward Publishing p. 103
  21. ^ Harinarayanan, A. (1986). "GANDHI'S FASTS : AN ANALYSIS (Summary)". Proceedings of the Indian History Congress. 47: 696–698. ISSN 2249-1937. JSTOR 44141630.
  22. ^ ON THIS DAY 1981: Violence erupts at Irish hunger strike protest Archived 17 April 2019 at the Wayback Machine, BBC News
  23. ^ Shaw, R. (2008)Beyond the Fields: Cesar Chavez, the UFW, and the struggle for justice in the 21st century University of California Press, p.92
  24. ^ Espinosa, G. Garcia, M Mexican American Religions:Spirituality activism and culture(2008) Duke University Press, p 108
  25. ^ Shaw, R. (2008)Beyond the Fields: Cesar Chavez, the UFW, and the struggle for justice in the 21st century University of California Press, p.93
  26. ^ "History of the Fast". Archived from the original on 27 December 2014. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  27. ^ "The Law of the Fast" (PDF). The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Retrieved 7 October 2023.
  28. ^ Brahma's Net Sutra, minor precept 30
  29. ^ Porter, Sian (May 2016). "Detox diets" (PDF). British Dietetic Association. Archived (PDF) from the original on 17 October 2016. Retrieved 29 January 2019. The whole idea of detox is nonsense. The body is a well-developed system that has its own built-in mechanisms to detoxify and remove waste and toxins. Our body constantly filters out, breaks down and excretes toxins and waste products like alcohol, medications, products of digestion, dead cells, chemicals from pollution and bacteria
  30. ^ David Gorski (23 May 2011). "Fashionably toxic". Science-Based Medicine. Archived from the original on 30 January 2019. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  31. ^ a b Griffith, R. Marie. (2000). Apostles of Abstinence: Fasting and Masculinity during the Progressive Era. American Quarterly 52 (4): 599-638.
  32. ^ Kuske, Terrence T. (1983). Quackery and Fad Diets Archived 20 April 2019 at the Wayback Machine. In Elaine B. Feldman. Nutrition in the Middle and Later Years. John Wright & Sons. pp. 291-303. ISBN 0-7236-7046-3
  33. ^ Hall, Harriett. (2016). "Natural Medicine, Starvation, and Murder: The Story of Linda Hazzard" Archived 1 June 2019 at the Wayback Machine. Science-Based Medicine. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  34. ^ "Linda Hazzard: The “Starvation Doctor”" Archived 1 June 2019 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  35. ^ Nash, Jay R. (1982). Zanies: The World's Greatest Eccentrics. New Century Publishers. p. 339. ISBN 978-0832901232
  36. ^ a b Gratzer, Walter. (2005). Terrors of the Table: The Curious History of Nutrition. Oxford University Press. p. 201. ISBN 0-19-280661-0
  37. ^ Kang, Lydia; Pedersen, Nate. (2017). Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything. Workman Publishing. p. 265. ISBN 978-0-7611-8981-7
  38. ^ Fishbein, Morris. (1932). Fads and Quackery in Healing: An Analysis of the Foibles of the Healing Cults. New York: Covici Friede. p. 253

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]