The Keto Guide to Water Fasting
The ketogenic diet (or keto for short) is one that focuses on extremely low carbohydrate intake and high amounts of healthy fats, mixed with adequate amounts of protein, for a nutrition-focused diet that emphasizes correct eating (rather than starvation). Where the Atkins diet left off, keto has taken over and gone to the next level.
What’s the end goal? Well, in addition to almost completely eliminating carbs from your diet (which is a great way to reduce overall calorie intake), the ketogenic diet actually trains your body to do what it was designed to do: rely on fat for fuel, instead of sugar.
How Does It Work?
To understand keto, you need to understand how the body works. The human body is a complex, highly functional machine, and it is capable of adapting of new environments better than almost any other animal in the world. But at its heart, the human body is designed for survival. And when it comes to eating food, it tends to treat every meal as though it could be its last.
What does that mean? It means that although the body functions best when it uses fat for fuel, the prospect of fast burning, high energy fuel in the form of carbohydrates (or more specifically, glycogen) is too good for it to pass up. After all, carbohydrates are hard to come by in the pre-agricultural wild, so when we manage to find some, our bodies put everything else on hold to burn those carbs for some quick energy, storing the slower burning fat for when times get lean.
The problem is that with our modern carb-heavy diets, times never get lean. Many of us are eating carb-rich foods for every meal; Glycogen is available everywhere, which means that our bodies keep using the wrong fuel and packing on the extra pounds for a famine that never comes. And before long, we adapt to this kind of diet, to the point where the body forgets how to burn fat properly.
The end result? Weight gain, low overall energy, and a whole host of other health problems and symptoms.
The good news is that just as the body can adapt to rely on glycogen, it can also be retrained to use fat. All it takes is strict dietary management, in the form of the ketogenic diet.
Keto Health Benefits
When your body becomes keto adapted, it begins to rely on fats for energy. That means that all of those additional pounds from stored fat are suddenly on the menu. Your body begins to produce ketones and consume reserve fat stores — leading to impressive weight loss over a relatively short amount of time. And, because fat burns slower, it means more, longer-lasting energy (and all of the related mood-and-health benefits that come with it). Eliminating carbs and focusing on fats may also improve sleep, boost immunity, and protect against a variety of dangerous symptoms and illnesses (including heart disease and some forms of cancer).
And one of the other benefits of keto is that — thanks to the slow burning fuel your body is relearning how to use — food craving start to disappear.
Keto Water Fasting
Before we go further, it’s worth noting that the Keto Diet doesn’t give you the power to function without food — every machine needs fuel, after all. What it does is give your body is the means to use longer lasting fuel in the form of nutrition-heavy fats. So, rather than feeling hunger pains every time you go a few hours without a snack (which is common for those whose bodies rely on fast-burning carbs), if you’re keto adapted, you can potentially go days without eating, and possibly without even wanting to.
Intermittent fasting, which is regularly skipping meals throughout the week, is a widely accepted aspect of the keto diet. Intermittent fasting offers additional health benefits, and can be used to gauge whether your body is in a state of ketosis. If intermittent fasting is difficult, then you’re probably not yet fully fat adapted. On the other hand, if you find that you aren’t thinking about eating even during periods of intermittent fasting, then there’s a good chance it’s because your body has learned how to use fat as fuel
Water fasting takes thing even further.
With water fasting, you put your body through a controlled detox. As the name suggests, during a water fast you avoid all foods. That means more than just not consuming carbs; it means no eating. Period. Even nutritious fats and protein are off limits. Most water fasts last 1-3 days and are repeated as desired. The average amount of water consumed while water fasting is typically 2-3 liters per day.
You may be asking why someone would do this? Well, while it may not offer much in the way of nutrition, water fasting specifically has many impressive health benefits. In addition to the standard detox fasting related benefits which include improved blood sugar levels, reduced inflammation, stabilized blood pressure, improved brain and heart functionality, and increased production of the anti aging hormone HGH, several studies have noted the direct correlation between water fasting and a lower risk of cancers, heart disease, and endocrine diseases such as diabetes.
How To Water Fast
Like many things in life, perhaps the key to a successful water fast is preparation.
To get started, block off a 1-3 day time frame which will give you the greatest chance to succeed. In other words, doing this while on vacation or over the holidays (or any other time where you’ll be extremely tempted to engage in social eating) may not be the way to go. Instead, make sure that family and business obligations are addressed prior to committing to a water fast.
This is also a good time to take a break from strenuous exercising, switching to something lighter, such as Tai Chi or yoga. In fact, getting more sleep while you are water fasting is also recommended.
Lastly, you may want to do a test run; that is, start with a 12 or 24 hour water fast. See how your body responds. Adjust and prepare accordingly for a full three-day water fasting event.
Side Note: If you’re fully keto adapted, your cravings should be minimal. That said, three days is a long time to go without food. If you do experience some cravings during your water fast, consider using an acupuncture technique. Put your index finger on the side of your jaw, just in front of your ears and feel the area of the joint. Open and close your mouth to make sure you can really feel it. It is just above the earlobes. This is the appetite control point. Rub or press this point for a couple of minutes and the part of the brain that controls hunger will be stimulated, resulting in a feeling of fullness. It’s simple, but for many dieters it really works to help satiate the impulse to start eating.
Blending Keto and Water Fasting
Certain things were made for each other. The keto lifestyle and water fasting are two such examples.
Water fasting can be considered a major component of the keto approach. The reason is that digestion, even of the healthiest of foods, takes energy and can take a toll on the body over time. Water fasting gives the body a break, so to speak, allowing the (now free energy) to help repair itself.
Water fasting also allows for the body to more quickly enter the state of ketosis. In fact, some experts state that water fasting can provide a longer and more effective state of ketosis. Additionally, deeper levels of repair at the cellular levels are noted during a water fast.
Again, this is the same thing that occurs via the Keto Diet, but the water fast accelerates the process while introducing the additional benefits noted above.
Water Water Everywhere…
The human body is a remarkable machine, but every machine needs maintenance. By embracing the keto diet, you give your system a more efficient fuel source, and by incorporating water fasting, you can flush (detox) the system for better performance and improved health.
So let your body function the way it was designed to, and experience the benefits of water fasting on the ketogenic diet.