Dry fasting: fact and fiction

Article sections:
I. Introduction
II. Understanding the misunderstanding around dry fasting
IV. Is dry fasting safe?
V. Dangers of dry fasting

I. Introduction

If you tell someone that you’re doing a dry fast – that is, a fast in which you fully abstain from eating and drinking – they’re liable to think you’re crazy. That either you’re a crazy religious fanatic. Or that you’re just crazy-crazy, with a tendency towards suicide. Over the years, I’ve had several clients who were referred to a psychologist simply because a relative found out they were water fasting to heal chronic health issues. Imagine what would have happened if they’d spoken instead about dry fasting… Here in the modern world, we’re conditioned to believe that fasting without water is plain and simple stupid, if not dangerous. How could it have any health benefits?

Before having actually tried dry fasting myself, I would surely have said the same thing.

II. Understanding the misunderstanding around dry fasting

Like everyone else, I grew up passively absorbing society’s message about hydration: that you need to drink lots in order to stay healthy. This message implicitly suggests that the opposite – not drinking – is unhealthy. In this sense, dry fasting seemingly represents the polar opposite of health: illness and, ultimately, death. In fact, according to one urban myth you’ll die within three days if you don’t drink.

I’ve been regularly dry fasting now for several years, and I’m still alive. This, despite having practised dry fasts of up to five days…


Looking back on things, I too had formed a judgement not based on knowledge and experience but upon ignorance and fear. This fear is ingrained at the very heart of our modern consumer society. Consume, consume, consume: this includes the ‘need’ to eat and drink almost constantly, as much as the ‘need’ to go shopping and travel on expensive holidays. Modern consumer society conditions us to believe that without these things we can’t be happy, that we’re not fully living. – Or, in the case of not eating and drinking, we’re actually in danger of illness and death.


It’s only by experiencing deep in your own body the power of a dry fast that you have a realistic chance to overhaul your beliefs about hydration and dehydration. It’s only by taking the proverbial ‘red pill’ of cinematic fame that you wake up to the knowledge that temporarily giving up food and drink isn’t going to kill you. By waking up, maybe you’ll even begin to question all the other things you believe you really do ‘need’. It’s one path towards freeing yourself from the Matrix, which, through consumer society, is slowly destroying our planet…


The biggest hurdle to accepting dry fasting comes from the completely logical idea that if you’re not drinking, how can you flush out toxins? In fact, it’s quite understandable to assume the opposite: that if you’re not drinking, any freed-up toxins will accumulate and poison you. However, the actual facts about dry fasting (discussed in the sections below) illustrate that your body is perfectly capable of excreting toxins throughout a dry fast.

Not all types of cleansing require large quantities of water

It’s true that hydration levels play a crucial role in allowing the kidneys to extract toxins and waste products from the blood, and, dissolved in water, excrete them as urine. Beyond this, though, toxins exit the body through several other pathways which are less dependent on water.

For instance, certain toxins are removed via the lungs along with carbon dioxide (which of course is itself a waste product) as well as through the skin. This is one reason why we have smelly breath and can experience a negative change in body odour when fasting.

The liver also removes toxins by secreting them into bile, which is then released into the GI tract. Of course, bile contains water, but the total amount of bile produced during a fast isn’t enough to significantly alter hydration levels.

Dry fasting accesses adequate water from the body

Almost unbelievably, the metabolism of dry fasting accesses enough water from within the body to enable the usual cleansing pathways to continue through the kidneys. This is evidenced by the fact that urination continues while dry fasting: something which feels like a small miracle when you experience it yourself! Indeed, if urination ceases during a dry fast, this is a sign that it is time to end the fast and rehydrate.

It seems counterintuitive that urination should continue during a dry fast, but there are several important reasons for this – both of which distinguish the dehydration of a dry fast from that which usually takes place in everyday life:

(1) Lack of digestion lowers the demand for fluids

In everyday life water is needed to aid digestion. When you stop eating during a fast, the body therefore demands fewer fluids for this purpose. People experienced in water fasting often note how their thirst decreases on Day 2 of their fast: after digestion is largely complete but before the onset of deeper detox (which often does catalyse thirst). For instance, on Day 2 of a water fast I usually find myself thirsty for less than half of what I would drink on a normal day.

(2) Fluids are drawn out and away from the tissues

During a dry fast the body slowly but steadily draws water out from the interstitial space between the cells. As a result, the pressure inside each cell becomes greater than the pressure outside (in the interstitial space).  Consequently, the fluid within each cell begins to leak out into the interstitial space, carrying with it cellular waste products and toxins which would otherwise remain locked within the cell. This is, in fact, one of the primary reasons that dry fasting is such a powerful modality for cleansing, as well as offering direct and unparalleled relief to anyone suffering from inflammatory issues.

This process of drawing water out from the tissues can continue for many days, which means that your kidneys access a steady if slow supply of water to flush toxins out of the body. This contrasts with most types of dehydration in everyday life, which occur because of either excessive sweating (heat) or diarrhea (illness). In both these cases, fluid is lost from the body through the skin or GI tract, thus denying the kidneys their requisite supply of water.

(3) Metabolic water

The other reason that dehydration during a dry fast should never have to reach dangerous levels is because of your body’s metabolism while fasting. In order to burn fat molecules, the body must first break them up into ketones. (Think of it like slicing up a sausage into individual slices.) This process frees up hydrogen atoms which then go on to bond with oxygen in the blood, forming H2O: in this case known as ‘metabolic water’.

Dr. Sergei Filonov, an expert in dry fasting, estimates that every day the body is able to produce over a liter of metabolised water this way.1 This quantity broadly agrees with my own experience while dry fasting (keeping in mind that, in addition to urination, water is also lost through the breath and skin).

Naturally, the deeper the ketosis, the greater the volume of metabolic water produced. The body knows this, and is undoubtedly one reason why dry fasting stimulates ketosis more strongly and quickly than even water fasting. The benefit of a high rate of metabolic water production is also why I often recommend (and also practise myself) using an introductory water fast immediately before a longer dry fast. Under these circumstances, ketosis is already well established at the beginning of the dry fast, which means that an ample supply of metabolic water can slow down the rate of dehydration. This allows the dry fast to continue for the longest possible time: something which is crucial for people fasting in order to heal chronic health issues.

Draining the swamp

While the phrase ‘draining the swamp’ has unfortunately taken on political connotations in recent years, it also perfectly describes one reason why dry fasting is so powerful – and even more so than water fasting. There inevitably exist certain tissues in the body which under normal conditions are not flushed out as efficiently as others. Toxins which find there way into these areas of ‘stagnant water’ thus tend to remain there. They also serve as an ideal breeding ground for pathogens, just as mosquitos tend to prefer the still water of swamps to a fast-flowing river. Through dry fasting, you ‘drain the swamp’ of toxins and pathogens, and also deny any harmful bacteria and viruses of the water they need to thrive.

IV. Is dry fasting safe?

So long as you don’t push yourself beyond your natural physical limits, there’s no reason why dry fasting shouldn’t be completely safe. Just think of animals. When they’re ill, injured or need to heal, they lose their appetite. They stop eating. And very often, they also stop drinking. Effectively, they undertake a dry fast until they heal.

This should be natural for us humans too, and the idea of dry fasting still exists in ancient cultures as a means of purification – both physically and spiritually. The problem is that here in modern life we’ve lost touch with our own bodies. Instead, we’ve become addicted to the drugs of modern medicine, which deals with hiding symptoms without addressing root causes of illness. For most people, it’s easier and more comfortable to pop a pill than stop eating and drinking for a few days. Of course, it’s also more profitable for Big Pharma as well…

Aren't they pretty?
Aren’t they pretty?

Unfortunately, most drugs are also poisons – which is precisely why it’s possible to overdose! Add to this the barrage of toxins we’re exposed in every aspect of modern life – the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, the chronic stress we experience – and it’s no wonder that the toxic load of an average person makes dry fasting difficult. It’s simply too powerful. Or, at the very least, it can catalyse powerful and uncomfortable detox symptoms. This is why I would always recommend that you first adapt to and feel comfortable with water fasting before trying anything longer than a 24-hour dry fast.

V. Danger signs of dry fasting

As mentioned above, dry fasting can be too powerful for anyone with a high toxic load. Assuming that this is not the case, though, there are two important danger signs (see below) which indicate that it is time to stop a dry fast.

Heart rate

The slow and steady drawing out of fluid from the tissues means that blood pressure drops. Beyond a certain point, this means that the heart must work harder to circulate the blood. The powerful cleansing which takes place during a dry fast also requires the heart to work harder. Although periods of tachycardia (an elevated heart rate) are completely normal during both water fasting and dry fasting, sustained tachycardia means that the dry fast should end. Here, ‘sustained’ is a relative term dependent on cardiac health. But even for someone with no history of heart problems, it is unwise to allow a heart rate of 100-120 beats per minute to continue for more than 24 hours. If the heart rate ever begins to exceed this tempo, the dry fast should end immediately.


If urination ceases, this is a clear sign of dehydration reaching a point which could eventually cause damage to the kidneys. During a dry fast, urination should take place approximately once every 6-8 hours, with at least 100-150ml (3-5 fl.oz.) of fluid excreted per occasion. If urine output falls significantly below this or stops altogether, the dry fast should end immediately. Specifically in the case of dry fasting, urine output is a better indication of dehydration than the colour of the urine, which can become dark and cloudy simply through detox (especially during the first one or two dry fasts).

Speaking from personal experience, there is no question that regular practice of dry fasting increases the ability to produce larger quantities of metabolic water. In the meantime, it’s important to respect the body’s signs and limit the length of your dry fast accordingly!

Five days

In general, and with practice, dry fasts of up to five days should be completely safe at home. This is supported by numerous studies.2 Anything longer should take place under medical supervision. I would argue, though, that a safer and equally effective method is to completely avoid dry fasts longer than five days, and instead combine multiple periods of dry fasting (up to five days each) within an extended water fast. This is particularly effective in healing certain chronic health issues. Having devised this method a few years ago, I have since coached numerous clients to full health using this approach.



If you’re curious about dry fasting, I’d suggest putting aside your doubts and fears, and try it. After all, there’s only one way to find out! But do proceed cautiously, undertaking nothing more than a 24-36 hour dry fast at first. It’s important not to forget that dry fasting is literally the most powerful form of cleansing known to humankind.

1 Sergei Filonov, Dry Medical Fasting – Myth and Reality, 2008, ISBN 978-5-9900731-7-3

2 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24434757/

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23 responses to “Dry fasting: fact and fiction”

  1. Thank you Tallis for all your work in helping people fast.
    I am currently in a 21 day fast in January 2023. I began with almost 3 days dry fast and have return to some water, and reading my body to mix this fast with dry fasting. I have discovered that I am less hungry when I dry fast. My fast is primarily for spiritual, but I also want to heal my sore shoulders and knees from the sports and weight lifting I have done. Also fasting for the brain to become sharper and increase my memory. God bless you!

    1. Tallis Barker, D.Phil. Avatar
      Tallis Barker, D.Phil.

      Hi Omar,
      Thanks for writing and for your appreciation!
      I wish you all the best on your 21-day fast 🙂

  2. Que fantástico artículo. Por mi parte he practicado el ayuno de agua ,solo por cosas místicas para una mejor conección. Ahora leyendo este artículo de ayuno seco ,me pregunto , si tal vez me sea útil para un problema de heridas en mis manos sin motivo aparente . Lo haré y después compartiré aquí mi experiencia. Gracias

    1. Tallis Barker Ph.D. Avatar
      Tallis Barker Ph.D.

      Hi Gretty,
      Glad you enjoyed the article. It’s hard to say whether dry fasting would be the best thing for your hands. It’s going to depend on what is causing the wounds. Water fasting certainly helps the skin to recover from wounds. I’ve had plenty of clients who comment on the way their skin heals faster after surgery, as well as the way that often moles, freckles, scars and even warts simply disappear. This usually doesn’t occur until at least 7-10 days of fasting, depending on what the body’s priorities are for healing in the body.
      All the best,

  3. Thanks! I just posted it to Librti network. https://www.librti.com/index.php

    1. Tallis Barker Ph.D. Avatar
      Tallis Barker Ph.D.

      Hi Peter,
      Many thanks for sharing the article!

  4. I’ve read Dr Filanov’s book and am a strong believer in dry fasting. I have done up to 4 days and dry fast regularly onc e a week. Thanks 4 making people aware of dry fasting

    1. Tallis Barker Ph.D. Avatar
      Tallis Barker Ph.D.

      Thanks for sharing, Michael. Glad to hear you’re a believer in dry fasting too!
      Keep it up!

  5. Is it OK to do a 10 day water fast with a 2 day dry fast in the middle? Maybe 4 day water fast, 2 day dry fast the 4 day water fast.
    Thanks for your information

  6. I will try next week dry fasting for 5 days maybe less since i have to travel. In february i did a 30 day water fast for first time. I fasted Ramadan for 8 years now, so i had some experience with fasting. Water fasting was difficult in the beginning because of the water it wasn’t very clear. With up and downs i finished, lost 18 kg of weight and feel great.

    1. Tallis Shivantar Avatar
      Tallis Shivantar

      Hi Marius,
      Thanks for sharing. Glad you’re feeling great 🙂

  7. Greetings,

    I have heard many things about dry fasting and I am beginning my dry fast to hopefully heal myself completely from HSV. I dont want it dormant, I want it OUT of my body.

    1. Tallis Shivantar Avatar
      Tallis Shivantar

      Hi Anonymous,

      Hope your dry fast is going well. Dry fasts are extremely powerful but their weakness is in their duration – which is inevitably much shorter than a water fast. For something as persistent as HSV ,a single dry fast may not be enough. In deciding what the best course of action is, I’d recommend this video, which discusses the pros and cons of water versus dry fasting:


      All the best,

  8. I just finished a 3 day soft dry fast, and the inflammation in my body is gone. It’s still not 100% but I can walk without feeling pain. I drank 4 oz of water every half hour the first day after the dry fast, and today I am up to 16 oz per 90 minutes. I am also doing a parasite cleanse. I am very grateful for the article, as well as all of the comments. I have not decided how long I will do the water fast before I move to juices, then smoothies, and back to food. I will be listening to my body, and not the voices of people who may not understand what I am doing. Thank you again!!

    1. Tallis Shivantar Avatar
      Tallis Shivantar

      Hi Taylor,

      Thanks for sharing your experience. That’s great your fast has reduced the inflammation and pain to this extent! If you live with chronic pain, a fast like this can provide a wonderful and welcome sensation of relief.

      Let’s hope that what I’m about to say doesn’t hold true for you, but it’s important to be aware that the reduction of inflammation may not be permanent after ‘only’ 3 days of dry fasting. This will depend on the cause and severity of your condition. The same may hold true for the pain (depending on whether the pain occurs as a direct consequence of the inflammation).

      Also, I’m glad you’re planning for a slow, gradual refeeding process after the water fast, as this will help to preserve reduced levels of inflammation afterwards. Of course, once you return to an everyday diet, it’s equally important that you follow an anti-inflammatory protocol in what you eat.

      If your fast does bring only temporary relief, this doesn’t mean that it was all in vain. Beyond the pain-free time it’s already given you, it’s possible that continued fasting in the future (combined with good nutrition in between) may gradually lead to a long-term improvement.

      Until proved otherwise, though, let’s hope for the best!

  9. Rajiv Ramchandra Avatar
    Rajiv Ramchandra

    Hi Tallis,

    I hope this note finds you well. Your website and writings have been informational and inspiring in my fasting journey. Last Friday, I completed my very first 24-hour dry fast. It was a ‘soft’ dry fast and I loved it. I am grateful that I experienced no discomfort, aside from a slightly longer afternoon nap 🙂

    I am writing today about healing muscle knots and old injuries through fasting (dry or water). In my case, the knots are primarily in my calves and the old injury is in my right piriformis muscle area.

    While I sense progress is taking place (I haven’t had an ‘Aha!’ moment of knot release that I did many years ago), I was wondering if you could shed some light on how fasting (dry or water) may help with knots and injuries (especially where there may be scar tissue) and if there is anything more one can do (in addition to, and perhaps during the fast itself) to catalyze the process.

    Thanks so much for your time and input.


    1. Hi Rajiv,

      Thanks for sharing. Fasting will definitely help with clearing out old knots and injuries. When the body is in ‘healing mode’, the immune system searches out scar tissue and dissolves it – not dissimilar to the way it searches out foreign bodies such as viruses and bacteria as well. If you think about it, scar tissue IS a kind of ‘foreign’ body when compared to healthy tissue. We simply don’t need it any more after the original injury has healed, and the scar tissue has done its job. The body does eventually clean out old scars, but this process is greatly accelerated while fasting.

      Both dry fasting and water fasting will help. Dry fasting is probably more effective on a day-by-day basis in this respect than water fasting, but obviously you can water-fast much longer than dry-fast. So it’s a question of weighing up the benefits of both, and seeing what works best for you. If you try dry fasting for this kind of healing, you’ll need to last much longer than just 24 hours, so I’d probably focus on longer water fasts at first, perhaps adding a period of dry fasting (nothing too long or extreme!) in the middle of this.

      Hope this helps,

      1. Rajiv Ramchandra Avatar
        Rajiv Ramchandra

        Thank you for your prompt reply Tallis. This definitely helps. I’m gradually extending the length of my dry fast – 36 hours this time.

        In addition to regular fasting, I eat a clean vegetarian diet, meditate, get exercise regularly and massage (trigger point therapy) the knots. So fingers crossed I will ‘break through’ – pun intended 🙂

        My goals (if I can call them that) are motivated by dissolving the knots (‘nots’) in my being – mostly negative thinking, history, pain, trauma – that get carried around as baggage and are usually stuck somewhere on the body. I sense the muscle knots are related to the psychological/emotional ones.

        Thanks again.

        With much warmth,

        1. Tallis Shivantar Avatar
          Tallis Shivantar

          Hi Rajiv,
          It sounds like you’re approaching both fasting as well as the whole issue of bodily knots in a conscious manner – which is of course the best thing you can possibly do! My advice would be to observe the knots throughout the duration of your fasts. Another thought would be to do the same through a water fast. Given the intensity and relatively short duration of dry fasts, though, it can be difficult to tune into subtle body-emotion issues. A water fast, on the other hand, might give you more time to feel out your subconscious (if you undertook a longer one, say a week or so).
          In any case, I wish you all the best on your path,

  10. I’m excited to stumble across your page. It seems 2018 had lots of people discovering fasting. And you’re a doctor who has read Filinov too! In the US, they like to push pills onto us.

    I have fasted my whole life, but began doing longer ones in my 20s. My longest water fast went about 28 days and I stopped counting. Just as I ended my fast, the benefits were just becoming apparent. All but two of my skin tags vanished. I’m going to do a dry fast soon, and part of me is doing it for science. I want to prove that fibroid tumors can be destroyed by dry fasting. I have many, some the size of small cantaloupe and large grapefruits and lemons. I want to show that it’s much more drastic to opt for surgery, full hysterectomies, over fasting. Since processed foods/sugar and caffeine promote fibroid growth (at an amazing speed, I can say from experience), they will return as long as women continue eating those items. My doctor wants to make money off of a hysterectomy. His excuse for not doing the embolization was his lack of experience/knowledge. I never went back.

    Fibroids have their own blood supply, it’s like having a parasite! And they need moisture to live. That is why water fasting didn’t reduce their size by much. I’m ready to dry fast and actually look forward to it, seeing how hard it was for me to drink even water while fasting. My body seemed to ‘want’ the dry fast instead. I try to learn from nature. I watched my cat dry fast after getting into a fight and have the base of his tail cut open. It was a deep gash, and within days, it closed and he was back to playing and eating.

    Though I hate taking pictures, my goal is to show how I look 8 or 9 months pregnant before the fast and what my after results are. Not just how it looks, but my health in general, how it feels. I already am vegetarian with good blood pressure and cholesterol levels. I will be happy to not feel 15 years pregnant anymore. But the biggest benefit I always experience is mental clarity! My purpose always comes into focus during a fast. I experience a long-lasting high from it. I’m convinced most American food is a bit poisonous to a healthy body/life. They feed us sugar in various forms and shapes and no one questioned til now (notice all the Netflix documentaries about our terrible food industry). I will bookmark this site and hopefully report back after it’s over. Thank you for doing this blog!

    1. Tallis Shivantar Avatar
      Tallis Shivantar

      Hi Xkullslinger,

      Thanks for sharing your story. Do let us know how things work out for you!

      You’re already clearly an experienced faster, and I’m sure you’ll get on just fine. Just one thing to keep in mind, though, with regard to dry fasting as opposed to water fasting. Healing (which obviously applies to you) tends to require longer time than simple cleansing and detox. And a lot of time is one thing which dry fasts don’t give you compared to water fasts. So although it may be more effective in terms of what it’s able to achieve on a daily basis, your dry fast may not be enough to heal you.

      Although it may be tempting to push the length of your dry fast as a result, it’s EXTREMELY important not to go beyond your capabilities. A general rule of thumb is that dry fasts over 5 days should take place under supervision of some kind!

      The gist of all this is to say: don’t put all your eggs in one basket emotionally, into this one dry fast. If it doesn’t bring you the result you were hoping for, all sorts of solutions are possible here. You can perhaps combine multiple dry fasts (not too long) with an ongoing water fast or just aim for a succession of longer dry fasts, separated by periods of refeeding and rehydration. If you’re not sure how you might want to do this, then I do offer fasting consultations here:

      Wishing you the best of luck and improved health soon!

    2. Tabitha Ndiho Avatar
      Tabitha Ndiho

      As a woman with fibroids, I’m curious to learn more about your personal experience with dry fasting and fibroids. I’m currently on a 30 day water fast focused on dissolving my fibroids while at the same time staying very in tune with any communication from my body.

      On another note – thank you for this very informative site, Tallis. Do you do any at home groups for dry fasting? I only saw it for water fasting.

      Warm regards,

      1. Tallis Shivantar Avatar
        Tallis Shivantar

        Hi Tabitha,

        Both water fast and dry fasting can be effective in healing fibroids. I have come upon certain cases, though, in which dry fasting has worked where water fasting hasn’t. Although I haven’t encountered the opposite situation, we shouldn’t read too much into this, I believe – because in any case most people start with water fasting before trying dry fasting (and not the opposite). Does that make sense? Also, every fast really is different than the last, so just because a particular kind of healing (such as eliminating fibroids) doesn’t take place on one fast doesn’t mean it won’t on the next, regardless of whether you’re doing a water fast or a dry fast.

        Thanks for asking about groups for dry fasting. Good idea! Unfortunately, though, there aren’t (yet) enough people interested in dry fasting to make this a reality.

        All the best,

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