The internet offers countless diet recommendations for quick and lasting weight loss results. However, many of these diets are mere fads that fail to deliver sustainable effects and, in some cases, even result in adverse consequences.

Water fasting is a diet that involves abstaining from all food items and consuming only water for several days. A new study from the University of Illinois Chicago highlights its limitations, revealing that while it may initially contribute to weight loss, the lost calories are quickly regained. So, its benefits will not last for the long term.

The findings of the study were published in the journal Nutrition Reviews. Krista Varady, the lead author, said she doesn't discourage the diet altogether, but it's best to seek medical supervision in case someone wants to try it.

"My overall conclusion is that I guess you could try it, but it just seems like a lot of work, and all those metabolic benefits disappear," Varady told

What particularly captivated the research team was the growing journalistic interest in the matter. The idea hinges on some old beliefs that this fasting method can improve metabolic rate and cholesterol levels.

They analyzed existing studies on the subject, with some focus on Buchinger fasting – a popular European fasting variant that involves the consumption of minimal amounts of juice and soup daily.

When people fast, they tend to lose weight, especially in the short term. For example, fasting for five days can lead to a 4% to 6% reduction in body weight. If someone fasts for seven to 10 days, they may lose around 2% to 10% of their weight, and for longer fasts of 15 to 20 days, the weight loss can be as much as 7% to 10%.

History of water fasting

Water fasting has a rich history that spans different cultures and belief systems. It has been practiced for centuries, often rooted in spiritual and religious traditions. Ancient healing systems and traditional medicine have also utilized water fasting as a therapeutic method for promoting health and well-being.

The bottom line

Water fasting, which is growing in popularity, should be approached with caution as it is considered extreme and requires medical supervision. Recent studies suggest that weight loss benefits may be temporary, leading to rapid weight regain, and the metabolic advantages might not last. Seeking professional guidance is recommended before considering water fasting.

Carbonated water
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