When it comes to weight loss, there are many methods that people try in order to achieve their desired results. Some people go on fat loss diets, while others try different types of exercise programs. And then there are those who take more extreme measures, such as surgery.
But what about fasting? More specifically—what about a 3 day broth or water fast? While there are claimed to be some benefits to this method, there are also some risks that you should be aware of before trying it (3).
Let’s take a closer look at 3-day fasts and why you shouldn’t try them for weight loss.
What Is A 3-Day Fast?
A 3-day fast is exactly what it sounds like—you don’t eat or drink anything (except water) for 3 days. Some people choose to do a complete fast, which means no food and only water. Others will do a broth fast, which means they’ll consume only bouillon or bone broth during the fast.
One idea behind fasting is that it will help your body burn fat for energy, rather than relying on food. And while this may sound like a good way to lose weight quickly, there are some serious risks involved.
Potential Risks Of A 3-Day Fast
Some of the potential risks of a 3-day fast include:
Low Blood Sugar
When you don’t eat for an extended period of time, your blood sugar levels can drop (1). This can cause symptoms like lightheadedness, dizziness, and fatigue.
Fasting can also lead to dehydration, especially if you’re not drinking enough water. Symptoms of dehydration include thirst, dry mouth, dark urine, and fatigue (1). You can also end up with electrolyte imbalances from drinking only water and not getting electrolytes from foods or other beverages. Electrolyte imbalances can be very dangerous.
If you’re only consuming water or broth during your fast you are not getting all of the nutrients your body needs. This can lead to deficiencies in vitamins and minerals (1).
Fasting can also cause digestive issues like constipation and diarrhea. This is because your body isn’t used to not digesting food (1).
Trigger Eating Disorders
As you can see, there are some potential risks involved with fasting. This doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to fast safely, but you should be aware of the risks before you decide to try it.
Potential Benefits Of A 3-Day Fast
There are also some potential benefits of regular fasting, such as:
Some research suggests that intermittent fasting may improve cognitive function and/or protect against neurodegenerative diseases (4).
Intermittent fasting might help reduce inflammation throughout the body (4).
Improved Blood Sugar
Fasting may help improve the body’s regulation of blood sugar levels (4).
Fasting can also help you lose weight, as your body will burn stored fat for energy during times when you are not taking in food (4).
Better Management Of Chronic Diseases
Some evidence suggests that intermittent fasting may lead to improvements in chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease (4).
As you can see, there are some potential benefits to fasting. However, it’s important to remember that these benefits have mostly been seen in animal studies. More research is needed to determine if the same benefits apply to humans, and what the more long-term effects are.
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Is A 3-Day Fast Good For Weight Loss?
One 3-day fast is not going to have a significant impact on your weight. You may notice some changes on the scale, but don’t mistake these changes for long-term weight loss.
Any weight that you lose during a fast is mostly water weight (6). Once you start eating again, you quickly regain this weight. In fact, you may even gain back more weight than you lost due to water retention.
If you’re looking to lose weight, there are much better ways to do it. Having a regular intermittent fasting schedule is one way to help you lose weight in a healthy way.
Try fasting for 16 hours each day and eating all of your meals within an 8-hour window. This should help your body burn fat for energy, which can lead to weight loss over time.
You can also try other methods of weight loss, such as eating a healthy balanced diet and exercising regularly. This won’t lead to quick weight loss, but it will help you lose weight in a way that you can maintain for the long-term (5).
Should You Try A 3-Day Fast?
If you’re considering trying a 3-day fast, it’s important to talk to your doctor first. This is especially true if you have any underlying health conditions or if you’re taking medication.
Your doctor can help you determine if fasting is safe for you and can provide guidance on how to do it safely. They can also offer suggestions on other weight loss methods that may be more effective and safe for you.
The following groups of people should not attempt a 3-day fast:
- Children: Children should not fast because their bodies are still growing and developing.
- Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding: Pregnant and breastfeeding women need to consume enough calories to support their baby’s growth. Fasting can put them at risk for malnutrition.
- People with underlying health conditions: If you have a chronic illness, fasting can put additional stress on your body. This can worsen your symptoms and make your condition more difficult to manage.
- People who are taking medication: If you’re taking medication, fasting can affect the way it works. This could lead to dangerous side effects.
How To Prepare For A 3-Day Fast
If you decide to try a 3-day fast, there are some things you can do to prepare.
- Start with a shorter fast: If you’ve never fasted before, start with a shorter fast of 12-24 hours. This will help your body adjust to the process of fasting.
- Gradually increase the length of your fasts: Once you’re comfortable with shorter fasts, you can gradually increase the length of time you fast.
- Choose a time when you’ll have minimal distractions: Fasting can be challenging, so it’s important to choose a time when you’ll have minimal distractions. This will help you stay focused on your goal.
- Make sure you’re well-hydrated: Drink plenty of water during your fast. This will help prevent dehydration and headaches. Consider electrolyte-containing beverages or both as well.
- Prepare your meals in advance: cook or freeze some meals before you start your fast so you’ll have something to eat when you break your fast.
- Have a plan for breaking your fast: When you’re ready to break your fast, have a plan for what you’ll eat. This will help you avoid overeating and help you ease back into eating solid food.
What To Expect During A 3-Day Fast
What does a 72 hour fast do to your body? Research has suggested that a 72 hour fast triggers the following changes in your body:
First 6 hours:
- Blood sugar levels drop and insulin levels decrease
- Body starts to burn stored glycogen for energy
- Hunger pangs begin
- Glycogen stores are depleted
- Body begins to burn stored fat for energy
- Hunger pangs subside
- Autophagy(the self-cleaning process) begins
- Body continues to burn stored fat for energy
- Euphoric feelings may occur
- Autophagy peaks
- Body continues to burn stored fat for energy
During a 72 hour fast, you can expect to experience hunger pangs, fatigue, and irritability. These symptoms are normal and will subside as your body adjusts to fasting.
To ease the symptoms of fasting, drink plenty of water and replenish your electrolytes with Himalayan pink salt or bone broth. You can also drink non-calorie fluids like unsweetened black coffee, herbal tea, and sparkling water.
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What To Eat After A 3-Day Fast
When you break your fast, it’s important to eat slowly and gradually increase the amount of food you’re eating. Eating too much too fast can lead to nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea (2).
Start with clear liquids like water, juice, or broth. You can also have sugar-free sports drinks or herbal tea. Avoid sugary drinks or alcohol, as they can irritate your GI system.
After a few hours you can move on to solid foods. Start with small meals that are easy to digest. Good options include fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains. Avoid fatty, greasy, or sugary foods, as they can be difficult to digest (2).
It’s also important to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water, juice, and herbal tea. Avoid sugary drinks or alcohol, as they can irritate your GI tract.
Tips For Success
Here are a few tips to help you succeed on your 3-day fast:
- Plan ahead: Make sure you have everything you need before you start your fast. This includes food, water, and any medications you take.
- Set a goal: Having a specific goal in mind will help you stay motivated during your fast.
- Be prepared for challenges: Fasting can be challenging, so it’s important to be prepared for potential obstacles.
- Have a support system: It can be helpful to have someone to support you during your fast. This could be a friend, family member, or online support group.
The Bottom Line
In general, a 3-day fast is not a sustainable or healthy way to lose weight. If you’re looking to lose weight, there are other methods that are more effective and less risky. These methods include eating a healthy balanced diet and exercising regularly.
If you do decide to try fasting, make sure you’re doing it safely and under the supervision of your doctor. Otherwise, you may be putting your health at risk.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 4 intermittent fasting side effects to watch out for (2020, harvard.edu)
- Breaking the fast: Meal patterns and beliefs about healthy eating style are associated with adherence to intermittent fasting diets (2019, nih.gov)
- Diet Review: Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss (n.d., harvard.edu)
- Research on intermittent fasting shows health benefits (2020, nih.gov)
- Weight-Loss and Maintenance Strategies (2003, nih.gov)
- YOU ASKED: WHAT IS WATER WEIGHT? (2017, vitalrecord.tamhsc.edu)