The Benefits of Dry Fasting

Dry fasting? Does that mean not even water? For how long? Won’t I be thirsty? This is the typical response I get from my patients when I talk to them about the benefits of dry fasting.

Fasting is quickly becoming the new health rage… and with good reason. The research just keeps pouring in. Fasting can help you lose weight, reset your gut microbiome, regenerate old, injured tissues, give you a massive influx of stem cells, and help your brain grow new neurons.

And there are all kinds of ways to fast: water fasting, intermittent fasting, 24-hour fasts. The interesting part of fasting is that each one of these fasts does something different to your body.

So, how do you know which one is best for you?

I’ve done several videos on fasting to help you navigate which one of these fasts is right for you. You can find them on my YouTube channel.

But, today, I want to zero in on a new fasting method that’s starting to gain more attention… DRY FASTING.

What is dry fasting?

Dry fasting is exactly what it sounds like: no food or water for an extended period of time. At first glance, this might sound torturous. But let me walk you through the benefits of dry fasting and you might just find that this is the most powerful fast you can do.

The first thing you should know about dry fasting is that people have been dry fasting for centuries, primarily for religious reasons. The Muslim faith, for example, encourages dry fasts from sun up to sun down during Ramadan.

The second thing to know about dry fasting is that when it’s done for short periods, it can be incredibly safe and even more effective than a longer water fast.

What are the benefits of dry fasting?

Your body is so incredibly well designed.

When you go extended periods without food, your cells will eat the toxins inside of it to survive.

So check this out: you know that extra water weight you feel like you are carrying around with you all day long?

When you go extended periods of time without food or water, your body will speed up the metabolism of fat to access the water that resides within your fat cells.

That means that one of the most exciting benefits of dry fasting is an increase in fat metabolism.

But the benefits of dry fasting don’t end there. Research is proving that dry fasting can have the following miraculous effects on your body:

1. Dry fasting lowers inflammation in your body

One of the most important benefits of dry fasting is that your inflammation levels significantly drop.

In fact, studies show dry fasts significantly lower the concentration of inflammatory markers like these:

  • TNF-α: This molecule is able to induce fever, inflammation, and cell death. It can increase the chance of Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, psoriasis, and inflammatory bowel diseases when it’s not properly regulated.
  • CRP: High levels of CRP are associated with an increased risk of diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease
  • IL-1b: Important mediator of inflammation and is linked to heart failure.
  • IL-6: This pro-inflammatory molecule can worsen autoimmune diseases and infections. It’s associated with a higher risk of diabetes, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, and further malignant growths in people with breast cancer.
  • CXC Chemokines: Molecules that cause inflammation when unregulated.

2. Dry fasting helps you grow new brain cells

Dry fasting promotes the release of a chemical in your brain called BDNF. This is like Miracle-Gro for your brain.

The benefits of BDNF on your brain are profound. BDNF is known to:

  • Improve memory and learning.
  • Increase brain plasticity.
  • Increase the creation of new neurons.
  • Protect against degeneration of brain cells.

Another benefit of dry fasting is that you tend to get higher ketone production on a dry fast. Ketones are incredibly healing to brain tissue and will reduce the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate. This can have a dramatic calming effect on conditions such as anxiety where the brain is overstimulated.

3. Dry fasting balances cholesterol levels

Many people who go on a ketogenic diet fear an increase in cholesterol. What I see in my clinic is that the opposite actually happens, especially if you apply the low carb, high-fat principles of a ketogenic diet with short intermittent periods of dry fasting.

Several studies show that after dry fasting:

  • HDL (good) cholesterol levels increase in women.
  • Total cholesterol and triglycerides decrease in men.
  • LDL (bad) cholesterol decrease in both sexes.

4. Dry fasting lowers blood sugar levels

When your blood sugar is too high, it’s damaging to your body and brain. When I first start working with a patient, our goal is to get their morning blood sugar somewhere between 70-90.

When I see numbers higher than that, I know it’s time to throw in some fasting. Multiple studies have found that after a dry fast, people have decreased blood glucose levels and increased insulin sensitivity.

5. Dry fasting prevents Osteoporosis

Another cool benefit of dry fasting is the impact it can have on your bone health.

Your body will secrete a hormone called Parathyroid Hormone (PTH) during an intermittent dry fast. PTH helps with bone reabsorption, bone formation, and increases calcium levels in your blood.

How long should you dry fast?

I think this is a really important question to ask. Dry fasting is not a fast you should do for a long period of time. I recommend to my patients that they start with a 12-hour dry fast and then work up to a 24-hour dry fast.

I have started a ritual of dry fasting every Monday. The way I do my dry fast is to get up at 5 am, have a glass of water and a cup of my buttered organic coffee. Usually, I am done with my coffee by 6 am, so I don’t eat or drink anything again until 6 am Tuesday morning.

How do you prepare for a dry fast?

I recommend that in the days leading up to your dry fast, you increase your hydration. Just be mindful to add in a few extra glasses of water each day. This way you don’t go into your dry fast dehydrated.

How do you break your dry fast?

Dry fasting is a more intense fasting experience for your body so my first recommendation is that if at any point in your dry fast you feel dizzy, light-headed, or like you are going to pass out, it’s time to break the fast.

I had this happen to me the second time I attempted a 24-hour dry fast. About 12 hours in, I crashed. My muscles felt fatigued. I was exhausted. And something inside me said that I needed to eat and drink. So I listened to my body and broke my fast.

I normally break my dry fast with a probiotic-rich drink like raw kefir water or a sauerkraut juice. After any fast, there is this unique opportunity to get good bacteria in your gut to help grow a healthy microbiome.

How often can you dry fast?

There are no set rules to how often you can dry fast. But the because the benefits of dry fasting are so powerful, I have added dry fasting to my weekly routine. Mondays are my busiest days, so I do a 24-hour dry fast every Monday.

I recommend to my patients that they constantly vary their diet. There should be low carb days, high protein days, short intermittent fasting days, longer 24 hour fasting days, and now I am including dry fasting days.

There you have it, the scoop on the benefits of dry fasting. As with all fasts, I highly recommend you have a coach or health professional oversee you during a fast. And as always, listen to your body when fasting, especially dry fasting.

Happy dry fasting! Reach out if you have any questions. I always love hearing about your fasting experiences.

Studies:

INTERMITTENT FASTING AND HUMAN METABOLIC HEALTH

Ramadan Fasting Exerts Immunomodulatory Effects: Insights from a Systematic Review

Is Ramadan fasting related to health outcomes? A review on the related evidence

Effect of Ramadan fasting in Saudi Arabia on serum bone profile and immunoglobulins

When should you do a dry fast?

2020-08-20T13:58:50+00:00Fasting Techniques, Nutrition|

34 Comments

  1. Masana February 22, 2020 at 12:17 pm - Reply

    I like lattes. I often have a latte on my way to work. I fast from 7pm to 11am but have wondering if the latte actually breaks the fast and I’m not IF after all

    • Jessica Coots March 5, 2020 at 8:20 pm - Reply

      Hi there! Best way to find out would be to measure your glucose & ketones before and after.

    • Laura April 27, 2020 at 10:39 pm - Reply

      Lattes break fasts. Black coffee is fine

      • Durelle May 7, 2020 at 11:39 pm - Reply

        I have medication I have to take twice/day. I’m currently intermittent fasting for 16 hrs/ day.
        Would a dry fast be inappropriate for someone who needs medication? I also take vitamins and probiotics with an enteric coating. If this won’t work for me, what do you recommend?
        Thank you,
        Durelle

  2. frank February 27, 2020 at 5:07 am - Reply

    I fast 48 h ours every two weeks. One week in between is a rest period I’ I feel great, full of energy and clear thinking when fasting.
    II dump lots acids and wast at the end of the fast and 12 to 24 hours after the fast. I feel energetic after the fast. I take pro biotics the end. I break the fast with fruit and or soups or water . rehydrate my body is at 8.5 on the pH scale
    I love it Frank

    • Stacey April 24, 2020 at 5:42 pm - Reply

      Hello, Mindy! Thank You very much for this article! It is so useful! I dry fasted for 36 hours and felt remarkable afterwards. It was easy to focus on daily tasks and I didn’t feel weakness! However, I was embarrassed by bad breath. It that ok while dry fasting??? Or how to deal with it?

  3. N Caraway March 14, 2020 at 12:10 am - Reply

    Resetter!

  4. John March 21, 2020 at 7:21 am - Reply

    I dry fasted for 24 hours the first time last summer working hard in the blazing sun sweating a lot and found it just as easy as prolonged water fasting which I have been doing for years. I also did 36 hrs. dry fast recently and found it easier than water fasting so I love it and dry fasting is my new preferred method despite what the typical drug pushing doctors with all their baseless scare tactics say. And yes please send me anything you have on the subject as I am trying to dive into the science which is hard to come by.

  5. Chris Adams March 22, 2020 at 12:53 pm - Reply

    Since it is easier to fast at night, I usually fast for one more night than each day, so my fasts are 1½, 2½. etc. days long (36, 60,… hours.)
    I was doing 36 hour dry fasts and now just did a 60 hour one and feel great!!! Just wondering if it is safer to go longer. 84 hours (3½ days) or more? Is there a maximum?
    Also, I have to ask: coffee before a fast? Fasting is so alkalizing and coffee so acidic. It seems counter productive to me.

    • Scotty October 12, 2020 at 4:58 pm - Reply

      100% about coffee ☕…so acidic…follow an Alkaline diet

  6. mark wood March 23, 2020 at 10:57 pm - Reply

    I love your site and your-tube channel

    1) Does Dry Tasting help reduce high blood pressure….

    2) is it OK if I fast 48 hours per week? thinking of doing Monday and Tuesday.

    3) I have water fasting for a number of years been fasting

    Thank You…!!!

  7. mark wood March 23, 2020 at 11:32 pm - Reply

    SORRY WAS NOT CLEAR – IS IT OK TO Dry FAST 48 HOURS ONCE PER WEEK?

    • Jessica Coots September 29, 2020 at 12:32 am - Reply

      Hi there! We do not recommend dry fasting over 24 hours.

  8. John Salton April 1, 2020 at 8:39 am - Reply

    Hi Mindy
    Really good info
    I’ve done a 40 day water only fast and I’m now planning on a 5 day dry fast starting Monday next week
    If I feel I need to at any point then I will
    Is it a good idea to still do light exercise ?
    I’m looking forward to Monday
    John

    • Nairn October 6, 2020 at 10:46 pm - Reply

      Hi john
      I did a four day dry fast in the middle of an 11 day water fast and for the whole time, I walked 8kms every day and normal daily activity. I felt GREAT.

      Tim Ferris cites studies that show muscle wastage with no activity while fasting; massive benefits if you keep moving.
      One key for me was a pinch of quality salt under the tongue if I ever felt fatigued/dizzy/off.. immediately rebalanced electrolytes and symptoms disappeared in seconds.

      I don’t remember the source now, but the longest clinically supervised dry fast recorded is 18days, and many experienced fasters do 8 day unsupervised dry fasts.
      Way longer than Dr Mindy currently recommends, and just even more evidence of how amazing our bodies are, and what hype the food and pharma industries have sold society.

      I’m 3 days into a fast now (48 hrs dry so far) and wish I’d bitten the bullet months ago instead of spiralling into a depressed, anxious and overwhelmed state feeling sorry for myself..
      I have energy again at last bc I’m giving my body a rest. Sounds so counter-intuitive; so works!

      Happy fasting :)

  9. Xiomara Saba April 22, 2020 at 10:49 am - Reply

    The coffee before fast seem like a bad idea. I know my body & personally it would go through withdrawal and make me uncomfortable if I did that. I avoid caffeine period before fasts.

  10. Douglas April 27, 2020 at 11:24 am - Reply

    Hi Dr what’s your opinion on adding a dry fast day in a 5 day water fast. Or to alternate between water and dry days.

  11. Mike Mikaelian April 28, 2020 at 2:24 am - Reply

    Hi Mindy, Love all fasting, I am confused about one thing, A hard fast, no contact with water, yet
    Through my investigation I have read water will not pass the outer layer of the skin and that water
    Will quickly evaporate. Thank you for all you do., Mike Mikaelian

  12. mohamed April 28, 2020 at 2:33 pm - Reply

    In the Quran, fasting is one month per year from sun rise to sunset. This is not a recommendation from God, it is an obligation to whoever is able, not sick, or traveling. So, eventually people will find out that this is the best level of fasting

  13. The Maxes April 28, 2020 at 6:29 pm - Reply

    I have prescriptions and supplements to take twice a day. Does drinking the glass of water with those mean that I absolutely did not do a dry fast? Or is there some flexibility in the definition of dry fasting?

    • Elizabeth Pernada May 1, 2020 at 2:51 pm - Reply

      Hi, Eliza here from the Support team.
      Yes, drinking water does break the dry fast. We highly recommend asking your doctor first if it’s safe for you to do dry fast.

  14. Jasmine May 3, 2020 at 12:22 am - Reply

    Thanks Dr Mindy for the information.I am a Muslim and currently we are fasting ramadan for 30 days which is dry fasting from sun up tp sun down..the number of hours is different from country to country..i live in Australia so i fast total 12 hours from 5:30am i stop eating drinking and breakfast at 5:40pm with water and dates which gives energy to body and its the way our prophet Muhammed used to break his fast..2 of my Australian christian friends are trying to fast this year as they knew about the health benefits for it and it is nit torture as many people think,subhan Allah your body will adjust …We are eating every single day,our Quran advised that 30 days is a break forbthe body and also when your stomach is empty,your mind is clear and your connection with God is higher.
    [email protected]

  15. Yanira Zablah June 3, 2020 at 7:56 pm - Reply

    Dr. what supplements are needed after a dry fast? Mag? Potassium?

    I do 16 -18 hr intermittent fasting.

    • Elizabeth Pernada June 10, 2020 at 8:00 am - Reply

      Hi Yanira,

      Eliza here from support team

      Yes, you can take those supplements after your fast. Dr. Mindy is personally taking this supplement called MIN from Systemic Formula. She actually recommends to up your mineral before you start your fast.

      Also, make sure that you eat healthy foods when you’re not fasting.

      I think this video will help you understand how to break your fast.
      https://youtu.be/_2eJ8SzlGH0

  16. ACE Management June 11, 2020 at 8:03 pm - Reply

    Awesome information Dr. Mindy. I am a virgin faster for about 2 years and I feel best when dry fasting 72 hrs every 2 weeks just to to reset and revitalize. Amazing energy the last 18-20 hrs.

  17. MMA Guy June 17, 2020 at 11:00 pm - Reply

    I have dryfasted everyday pretty much for the last half year (obviously short fasting periods, not 24 hours) and I have noticed a HUGE difference in how my body feels, I started first with fasting since I had inflammatory problems since I was 16, I was given medicine and different skin cremes NONE of it worked at all, but when I started out with fasting (first normal fasting) I started to notice my skin looking better, inflammatory areas would become neutral again and I would in general overall just look better.

    Then I started with dry fasting here is the benefits that I have gotten from this fantastic method!

    Skin which was already looking better, cleared up MUCH better than before, I had a little acne before, that is all gone.

    All inflammatory areas on my body have become neutral, no more pain at night or when working out, yaay!

    I’ve lost a good chunk of weight and I’ve started to build a 6 pack (obviously also training by the side, but this helps amazingly with trimming the fat).

    Much more energized, feel like I can wake up and conquer the world everyday, fantastic feeling.

    Much less stress, I’ve gotten rid of almost all my stress and is now reliefed to do more training, running etc. because of that stress disappearing.

    Better cardio. Personally when I’ve started running for the first time some years ago I could barely run 2 or 3 miles without coughing out my lungs almost and running dry.

    Now after I haven’t run in years (started some months ago) I run routinely without any problems + I run longer and faster than I ever did so that’s definently a benefit.

    So here is some of the minuses: Well the only minus I have is that it is a little bit tougher to lift and workout, even though the running is easier, lifting is just a bit different, but here is the positive news: It can be done, I’m doing it right now and although hard and having to sacrifice almost all of your time on this routine, it can be done to train while fasting, but again be careful since you shouldn’t try to lift the heaviest you can, but instead try to be consistent.

    Anyway that’s my experience, keep doing the great work you do doctor!

  18. Danielle June 26, 2020 at 3:24 pm - Reply

    I drank about 2 tablespoons of water with my allergy medication. Did this break my dry fast?

  19. David July 2, 2020 at 2:23 am - Reply

    Will you have the same benefits of dry fasting if you shower? What if I wet my mouth with water and spit it out. Does it break a dry fast?

  20. Kimberly Pearce July 3, 2020 at 9:46 pm - Reply

    2 weeks ago I did my first 24 hour dry fast. I went from weighing 211.2 to 207.4. I immediately followed with a 24-hr water fast and went from 297.4 to 204.8 pounds. I am a daily intermittent faster .. mostly circadian fasting. At this moment I am 21 hours in a 36-hour fast. Just going to rest today.

  21. Abdulrahman July 30, 2020 at 1:12 pm - Reply

    We Muslims have been dry-fasting for the past 1400 years during the month of Ramadan. If you fast regularly, come join us during this upcoming Ramadan. It is much easier to fast when billions of people are fasting with you too.

  22. Lauren E Townes September 15, 2020 at 6:46 pm - Reply

    Reading everyone’s questions and detailed responses is so helpful. I am incorporating water and dry fasting into my weekly routine.Love this feeling of a continuous momentum forward.

  23. Chandeshwar Sharma October 20, 2020 at 10:11 am - Reply

    So much thanks to author. well illustration the benefits of dry fasting. i have been doing intermittent fasting since 1994.

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