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Water Diet (Fasting): Benefits, Risks, and How to Do It

The water diet involves using water as a central element of nutrition, either by incorporating it into your meals or substituting entire meals with it, promoting a unique approach to dietary intake.

Source: Pexels

Are you tired of trying every fad diet under the sun and seeing no results? Look no further than the latest weight loss trend: the water diet.

Yes, you read that right - the water diet is a weight loss plan that involves drinking plenty of water to suppress your appetite and reduce calorie intake. But, is it really the solution you've been looking for, or just another overhyped fad?

In this article, we'll dive deep into the world of the water diet, exploring its potential benefits and risks, as well as its effectiveness for weight loss. We'll uncover the science behind this seemingly simple weight loss plan and determine whether it's worth trying or if you should stick to your current routine.

So, grab a glass of water and get ready to learn all about the water diet. Let's find out if it's truly a good plan for weight loss, or just another drop in the bucket of failed diets.

What is the Water Diet?

Ah, the water diet - the weight loss plan that sounds almost too good to be true. Can simply drinking water really lead to weight loss? The answer is both yes and no. 

The water diet is a weight loss plan that involves incorporating water into your meals or replacing meals with water altogether. The idea is that by drinking water before or in place of meals, you can reduce your overall calorie intake and lose weight [1].

There are a few different variations of the water diet, but they all revolve around the same principle of drinking water to curb your appetite. Here are some of it.

  • Water Fasting: This involves drinking only water for an extended period of time, typically ranging from a few days to a few weeks.

  • Meal Replacement: This involves replacing one or more meals per day with water, typically a specific amount of water in place of a meal.

  • Water Preloading: This involves drinking water before meals to help reduce overall calorie intake.

The exact amount of water recommended for weight loss can vary depending on factors such as age, gender, activity level, and climate. However, a general guideline is to drink at least 8 glasses (64 ounces) of water per day, with some sources recommending up to 2 litres (68 ounces) for optimal weight loss results [1].

Source: Unsplash

How to do the different variations of the water diet? 

Now that we've covered the basics of what the water diet is, let's take a closer look at how to do each of the different variations. Keep in mind that before embarking on any new diet or exercise plan, it's important to consult with your doctor first to ensure that it's safe and right for you.

1. Water fasting

Water fasting involves drinking only water for a period of time, typically ranging from a few days to a few weeks. This is considered an extreme form of the water diet and should only be attempted under the supervision of a healthcare professional. 

Starting a water fast may seem like a simple task, but without proper guidance, it can lead to potential health risks. Unfortunately, there are no scientific guidelines on how to start water fasting. 

However, certain groups of people should not attempt water fasting without medical supervision. This includes individuals with gout, diabetes (both types 1 and 2), and eating disorders, as well as older adults, pregnant women, and children [1].

During a water fast, it's important to drink plenty of water and avoid any food or beverages that contain calories, such as juice or coffee. And if you're new to water fasting, it's best to spend a few days preparing your body for the challenge. This can be done by eating smaller portions at each meal or by fasting for part of the day.

Water fast (24–72 hours)

During a water fast, you are not allowed to eat or drink anything besides water. Most people drink two to three litres of water per day during a water fast [2].

The water fast lasts for 24–72 hours. You should not water fast for longer than this without medical supervision because of health risks.

Some people may feel weak or dizzy during a water fast and may want to avoid operating heavy machinery and driving to avoid causing an accident.

Post-fast (1–3 days)

After the water fast, you should resist the urge to eat a big meal. This is because eating a large meal after a fast may cause uncomfortable symptoms.

Instead, break your fast with a smoothie or smaller meals. You can start introducing larger meals throughout the day as you feel more comfortable.

The post-fast phase is especially important after longer fasts. This is because you may be at risk of refeeding syndrome, a potentially fatal condition in which the body undergoes rapid changes in fluid and electrolyte levels [3].

This phase normally lasts a day, but people who fast for 3 or more days may need up to 3 days before they feel comfortable eating larger meals.

Please note that we do not recommend attempting this variation of a water diet on your own. It should only be tried under the supervision of a healthcare professional. We are not responsible for any adverse effects or harm caused by attempting this diet without proper medical supervision.

2. Meal replacement

Meal replacement involves swapping out one or more meals per day with water. To do this, simply determine how many calories you typically consume during the meal you want to replace, and drink a specific amount of water in its place. 

For example, if you typically consume 500 calories for breakfast, you may replace that meal with 16 ounces of water. It's important to note that meal replacement should only be done for short periods of time and not as a long-term solution.

3. Water preloading

Water preloading involves drinking water before meals to help you feel fuller and consume fewer calories. To do this, simply drink a glass or two of water before each meal. This can help reduce overall calorie intake and may lead to weight loss over time.

It's important to note that while each of these variations of the water diet may lead to weight loss in the short term, they may not be sustainable or healthy in the long term. It's important to approach any new diet or weight loss plan with caution and to consult with a healthcare professional before making any significant changes to your diet or exercise routine.

Source: Pexels

Benefits of the water diet

While the water diet may not be suitable or sustainable for everyone, there are some potential benefits to incorporating water into your weight loss plan.

1. Short-term weight loss

One of the main benefits of the water diet is that it may lead to short-term weight loss. By drinking water before meals or replacing meals with water, you can reduce your overall calorie intake and potentially shed a few pounds in the process.

2. Better skin health 

The skin is the largest organ in the human body and plays a crucial role in protecting the body from the external environment. Proper hydration is important for maintaining skin health, as dehydrated skin can appear dry, dull, and more prone to wrinkles and fine lines. Drinking water can help hydrate the skin from the inside out, keeping it plump and radiant [4].

When the skin is hydrated, it can better retain its natural moisture and elasticity, leading to a more youthful appearance. Hydrated skin can also better absorb topical skincare products, allowing for maximum benefit. In addition, drinking water can also help flush out toxins from the body, which can lead to clearer, brighter skin [5].

3. Boost cellular health

Autophagy is a process where old parts of cells are broken down and recycled. Animal studies suggest that autophagy may protect against diseases like cancer, Alzheimer's, and heart disease. 

Water fasting has been shown to promote autophagy in animal studies. This is significant because autophagy can help prevent damaged parts of cells from accumulating, which can increase the risk of developing certain cancers [6].

Additionally, animal studies also show that autophagy may help extend life span [7].

4. Improve heart health

Research shows that medically supervised water fasts may help people with high blood pressure lower their blood pressure [8]. 

A study of 48 individuals with overweight or obesity found that water fasting for an average of 17 days under medical supervision led to reductions in systolic blood pressure. It was also associated with improvements in LDL cholesterol and inflammation levels [9]. 

5. Improve insulin and leptin sensitivity

Insulin and leptin are important hormones that affect the body's metabolism. Water fasting has been shown to make the body more sensitive to these hormones, making them more effective [10].

Being more insulin sensitive means the body is more efficient at reducing its blood sugar levels. Meanwhile, being more leptin sensitive could help the body process hunger signals more efficiently, reducing the risk of obesity [11].

6. Reduce the risk of chronic diseases

Water fasting has been linked to lower risk factors for chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease [12].

A study of 30 healthy adults who followed a 24-hour water fast found that their blood levels of triglycerides, a risk factor for heart disease, were significantly lower after the fast [13].

Additionally, water fasting has been shown to protect against free radicals, unstable molecules that can damage parts of cells and contribute to chronic diseases [14].

Again, it's important to approach any weight loss plan with caution and to consult with a healthcare professional before making any significant changes to your diet or exercise routine. While the water diet may offer some potential benefits, it's not suitable or sustainable for everyone.

Source: Pixabay

Risk of the Water Diet

While water fasting has been suggested to have certain health benefits, it's important to be aware of the potential risks that come with it.

Here are some of the dangers and risks associated with water fasting:

1. May cause loss of essential weight

As water fasting restricts calorie intake, it can result in rapid weight loss. However, some of the initial weight loss may come from loss of water, carbohydrates, and even muscle mass, which can be detrimental to your overall health.

2. Risk of dehydration

Contrary to what people may assume, water fasting can actually cause dehydration. Since 20-30% of our daily water intake comes from food, cutting off all foods can reduce overall water intake leading to dehydration. 

Symptoms of dehydration include dizziness, nausea, headaches, constipation, low blood pressure, and low productivity. To avoid dehydration, you may need to consume more water than usual.

3. May lead to orthostatic hypotension

Dehydration caused by water fasting can also cause orthostatic hypotension, which is a sudden drop in blood pressure when you stand up. This can cause dizziness, lightheadedness, and even fainting, potentially leading to accidents while driving or operating heavy machinery.

4. Electrolyte imbalances

When you drink too much water and don't consume enough electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium, your body can become imbalanced [15]. This can cause a range of symptoms, including muscle weakness, cramps, and heart palpitations. 

5. Nutrient deficiencies

By restricting food intake to only water, the water diet can lead to nutrient deficiencies. This can cause a range of health problems, including weak bones, anaemia, and immune system dysfunction.

If you experience any of these symptoms during a water fast, it is recommended to discontinue the fasting and seek medical attention. It is important to consult a healthcare professional before starting any fasting program and to ensure that it is safe for you.

Source: Unsplash

Effectiveness of the Water Diet for Weight Loss

The water diet is often marketed as a quick and easy way to lose weight. However, the effectiveness of this diet for long-term weight loss is questionable. While initial weight loss may occur due to water weight and caloric restriction, the long-term sustainability and safety of this diet are concerns.

Here are some key factors to consider regarding the effectiveness of the water diet for weight loss:

1. Short-term weight loss

The water diet may lead to short-term weight loss due to the restricted calorie intake and the diuretic effect of drinking large amounts of water. However, most of the weight loss is likely to be water weight, which can be quickly regained once the diet is stopped.

2. Difficulty in maintaining the diet

The water diet can be challenging to maintain in the long term, as it involves consuming only water and limiting other foods and drinks. This can lead to feelings of hunger, fatigue, and low energy levels, making it difficult to stick to the diet.

3. Lack of nutrient intake

The water diet restricts food intake, which can lead to a lack of nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and protein. This can lead to weakness, fatigue, and other health problems, making it an unsustainable weight loss plan.

4. Potential health risks

As discussed earlier, the water diet comes with several health risks, including dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, nutrient deficiencies etc.

Overall, while the water diet may lead to short-term weight loss, its long-term effectiveness is questionable, and it may come with several health risks. It is important to follow a balanced diet and exercise plan for long-term weight loss and consult a healthcare professional before starting any weight loss plan.

Consider giving intermittent fasting a try if you're uncertain about the effectiveness of a water diet. It's a great alternative that has been shown to provide a range of health benefits.


Well, there you have it - the ins and outs of the water diet. But before you go reaching for that water bottle, let's recap what we've learned.

While the water diet may offer some benefits like short-term weight loss and better skin health, it's not a magic solution for sustained weight loss. In fact, the effectiveness of the water diet for long-term weight loss is still up for debate.

The truth is, there's no one-size-fits-all weight loss plan. What works for one person may not work for another. So, it's important to find a plan that's tailored to your individual needs and goals. This might mean incorporating a variety of foods, regular exercise, and behavioural changes that promote healthy habits.

If you're short on time but still want to get in a good workout, try this 20-minute exercise routine.

At the end of the day, the most important thing is to approach weight loss with a balanced, healthy mindset. Don't get caught up in the latest trends or fads, it's important to approach any weight loss plan with caution and to consider other factors like regular physical activity, adequate sleep, and stress management for overall health and well-being.

If you're looking for a way to incorporate regular physical activity into your routine, consider joining a fitness class that uses a user-friendly fitness management software like Rezerv.

With Rezerv, you can easily track your progress, manage your class schedules, and communicate with instructors, making it a convenient way to prioritise your health and well-being.


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Read next: 10 simple yet effective ways to avoid the holiday weight gain trap

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