Water fasting is an extreme form of fasting. So while you are at it, you should watch out for how your body responds to it. Water fasting is effective for quick weight loss, but it is always better to do it sustainably.
Every individual’s metabolism is different. If some form of fasting works for them, it doesn’t mean it will work for you. If you consider water fasting to lose weight, you should consult a health practitioner because there could be other effective ways. You can try different intermittent fasting techniques to achieve the same results you expect from a water fast.
If you still choose to go with water fasting or do it for religious reasons, you should tread with caution. You should plan what to eat before starting the fast and how to end it.
You should also watch out for any negative signs such as overtiredness, fasting stomach pain, or fatigue that your body experiences during the fast. It is best to stop your fasting in between in case of extreme circumstances rather than lingering on to it.
Below we discuss ten signs to stop water fasting that might give you a red signal signifying that you are better off breaking the fast.
10 Signs To Stop Water Fasting
1. Stomach Pain
The natural acids present in your stomach sit idle and might create a situation of intermittent fasting stomach pain. The stomach acid might come out as acid reflux or develop other symptoms of fasting such as ulcers, damage to intestinal walls, stomach pain, a burning sensation in the stomach, or chest pain while fasting.
The water fasting stomach pain is common but should be taken seriously.
To cut the acid to relieve stomach pain while fasting, you should try to have more alkaline substances that can raise your gut pH factor.
You can have warm water to see if that works. Half a spoon of baking soda or sodium bicarbonate might help since it is an alkaline substance ideal for settling stomach acids.
You can also try cold water with effervescent granules of ENO salt, a mixture of citric acid and sodium bicarbonate commonly available on the market to relieve acidity. Do consult a doctor for the best course of action.
2. Throat Pain
Water fasting can affect the thyroid-stimulating hormones released from the pituitary gland in the brain and, in turn, affect the T3 (Triiodothyronine) and T4 (Thyroxine hormone) released by the thyroid gland.
These play a major role in metabolism, regulating body temperature and energy. Poor thyroid functioning makes it difficult to lose weight and makes the body tired.
The thyroid gland has to work harder to preserve muscle and fat while fasting and meet the body’s energy needs. The thyroid’s actual function is downregulated due to nutritional insufficiency, which can manifest as a pain in the throat.
A slight discomfort might wither away, but you might want to stop fasting if the pain continues for long. You should have foods rich in proteins and carbohydrates or have seafood once you start your regular diet after fasting.
3. Losing Consciousness
The feeling of light-headedness and loss of consciousness are some common symptoms seen during water fasting. It could be due to falling blood pressure, high blood sugar and low insulin levels, low electrolytes, nausea while fasting, and dehydration. Some vitamin and mineral deficiencies such as B12, iron, and magnesium can also lead to loss of consciousness.
High blood sugar or hyperglycemia can be particularly harmful as it can cause diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), where the body starts producing toxic substances in the absence of insulin.
If you are not feeling well and have fainted, you can lie down with your feet high to improve blood circulation to your brain. You can go out in the open air and have water. Avoid heavy meals immediately after water fasting as it can worsen your nausea.
4. Vomiting and Nausea
You will see some people experiencing fasting nausea or throwing up while fasting, which could be acid reflux.
Too much acid in the stomach might make you feel nauseous, leading to stomach pain during fasting, and you might end up vomiting. Your vomit may include bile, the digestive enzyme released by the liver as it collects unused in your stomach.
If you are wondering, does throwing up break your fast? The answer is NO! since you aren’t ingesting anything. You may experience vomiting sometimes, but it does not break your fast.
However, if you’re throwing up, you should stop fasting. At this time breaking the fast or not should be the last thing on your mind. To ease nausea symptoms, break your fast and consume plain water, mint tea, ginger tea, or lemon soda. After breaking your fast, avoid eating substantial meals right away.
5. Breathing Issues
Some complain of shortness of breath while water fasting due to the shortage of salt in the body. If you drink too much water without adding the necessary minerals such as sodium, magnesium, and potassium, you might have restrictive breathing.
You can try having pink salt mixed in water if you suffer from a breathing issue; if you still do not feel better within 15-20 minutes, you can consider breaking your fast.
The melatonin hormone released by the pineal gland plays a role in regulating the sleep-wake cycle. Studies indicate that water fasting can reduce melatonin secretion as the pineal gland needs a little amount of glucose to function well. However, some animal studies suggest that obese individuals might not be more affected by insomnia-related issues as lean people.
Another reason for chronic insomnia could be rising cortisol levels during prolonged fasting. In extreme cases, it might create mental health issues, so you should stop fasting immediately.
7. Extreme Fatigue, Headache, and Weakness
You can have severe fatigue as the body is devoid of the needed fuel for its normal functioning. Some people experience extreme weakness and loss of energy as fasting symptoms while performing their day-to-day activities.
You can opt for less intensive exercises like yoga or walking and try exerting your body as little as possible. You can have a nap during the day to boost your energy levels. Some people also suffer from fasting headaches due to caffeine withdrawal. You should stop fasting if any of these symptoms go out of hand.
8. Lack of Concentration
Water fasting can bring along all kinds of mood swings and irritability due to protruding hunger off and on, making it difficult to concentrate. The ghrelin hormone responsible for hunger also plays a role in memory performance. Tolerating hunger is particularly difficult when the body cannot shift into ketosis to use stored fats.
You might have to break your water fast and choose to go for a fat-only diet without any carbohydrates that will still keep you in ketosis. By doing this, your body might continue autophagy without raising insulin. You can also consider having MCT oils (medium-chain triglyceride) to stay in ketosis.
9. Diarrhea or Constipation
Diarrhea could be due to excessive salt and water in the gastrointestinal tract. Typically, there are fewer chances of catching diarrhea during fasting. However, you can experience diarrhea after breaking fast since the bowel’s ability to function well reduces when not used for a long time.
Other reasons for experiencing diarrhea during or after fasting could be the wrong diet before or after breaking the fast. You should eat carefully post long water fast to avoid inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) or refeeding syndrome, which could even be fatal.
You might suffer constipation as the body loses too much fluid or undergo diuresis during the initial days of fasting. Lack of fiber in the diet could also lead to intolerable constipation that might force you to consider pausing your fast.
Though diarrhea is common during intermittent fasting, there are techniques to avoid it or minimize the severity of it. To know more in detail, read Diarrhea After Fasting: What Are The Causes And Cures.
10. Feeling too Hot or Cold
Some people experience a fall in body temperature while water fasting as blood flow increases to use up stored fat. Another reason for cold sensitivity is a fall in blood sugar while water fasting.
Doing light exercises might warm up your body. If you cannot resist the cold, you can have your preferred tea, coffee, or green tea. If you are feeling too hot, it can be an indicator of pre-menopausal hot flashes in women. Discuss with your doctor.
Although followed by many, water fasting should be approached with caution. To know the pros and cons of water fasting, read – What Is Water Fasting: All You Need To Know.
The focus of fasting should be to have a healthier body than before. If you were wondering, can fasting make you sick- now you know it can.
If you are experiencing any health issues that are making you uncomfortable, decide when to stop water fast to consider other alternatives. In the case of moderate fasting for around 16 to 24 hours, you might experience some sort of symptoms such as hunger or irritability, but that isn’t reason enough to break your fast.
But severe symptoms lasting for long are an indication to stop your fast. You can consider switching to fewer calorie drinks or fruits and following a less restrictive fast. It is vital to understand your body functions and metabolism to let water fasting work in your favor.
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