Ive Made The Decision To Fast So How Long Should I Fast For
There arent any studies right now that state exactly how long one should fast. Researchers, like Dr. Peterson, are working on that. The minimum amount of time it takes to make fasting efficacious hasnt been proven via study, but the prevailing notion is its somewhere between 12 and 18 hours. But it can take a few days sometimes weeks of fasting regularly for your body to start burning fat for fuel. Brooke Alpert, nutritionist and author of The Diet Detox, suggests starting by moving your last meal to around 7 p.m. She said the reason for this is our bodies are better at doing some things at certain times. Our bodies are better at processing sugar in the morning than at night, said Dr. Varady. So eat bigger meals in the morning, for example.
And how often do you have to do daily intermittent fasting to see the benefit? Again, there hasnt been a study thats shown exactly how many days you need to fast, but a recent study in rodents showed they get about the same benefits fasting five days per week as they did fasting every day. The great thing is that were learning is that this type of fasting isnt all or nothing, said Dr. Peterson.
Seven Ways To Do Intermittent Fasting
There are many different ways of intermittent fasting. The methods vary in the number of fast days and the calorie allowances.
Intermittent fasting involves entirely or partially abstaining from eating for a set amount of time, before eating regularly again.
Some studies suggest that this way of eating may offer benefits such as fat loss, better health, and increased longevity. Proponents claim that an intermittent fasting program is easier to maintain than traditional, calorie-controlled diets.
Each persons experience of intermittent fasting is individual, and different styles will suit different people.
In this article, we discuss the research behind the most popular types of intermittent fasting and provide tips on how to maintain this type of diet.
There are various methods of intermittent fasting, and people will prefer different styles. Read on to find out about seven different ways to do intermittent fasting.
The Benefits Of An Extended Fast
Obviously, you can’t fast for 24 hours every day because, you know, food is essential for life. So if you do want to experiment with these longer autophagy-inducing fasts, you’ll have to strategically space them out. “My opinion is that a longer episode without any caloric intake done a few times per month over decades is likely the best approach for preventing chronic diseases because it is feasible to do consistently over a lifetimethe period of time that chronic diseases like coronary artery disease and diabetes develop,” says Benjamin Horne, Ph.D., a genetic epidemiologist who is currently conducting a trial evaluating the effectiveness of a once-per-week 24-hour water-only fast.
Fasts up to 36 hours have also shown promise for people with type 2 diabetes, says Pedre, but these would absolutely need to be done under the supervision of a medical professional.
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How To Get Started
16/8 intermittent fasting is simple, safe and sustainable.
To get started, begin by picking an eight-hour window and limit your food intake to that time span.
Many people prefer to eat between noon and 8 p.m., as this means youll only need to fast overnight and skip breakfast but can still eat a balanced lunch and dinner, along with a few snacks throughout the day.
Others opt to eat between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., which allows plenty of time for a healthy breakfast around 9 a.m., a normal lunch around noon and a light early dinner or snack around 4 p.m. before starting your fast.
However, you can experiment and pick the time frame that best fits your schedule.
Additionally, to maximize the potential health benefits of your diet, its important to stick to nutritious whole foods and beverages during your eating periods.
Filling up on nutrient-rich foods can help round out your diet and allow you to reap the rewards that this regimen has to offer.
Try balancing each meal with a good variety of healthy whole foods, such as:
- Fruits: Apples, bananas, berries, oranges, peaches, pears, etc.
- Veggies: Broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, leafy greens, tomatoes, etc.
- Whole grains: Quinoa, rice, oats, barley, buckwheat, etc.
- Healthy fats: Olive oil, avocados and coconut oil
- Meat, poultry, fish, legumes, eggs, nuts, seeds, etc.
Drinking calorie-free beverages like water and unsweetened tea and coffee, even while fasting, can also help control your appetite while keeping you hydrated.
A Reality Check But Do Not Be Scared
Now heres a reality check. A 36-hour fast will not come easy for most people. That much I know. But you dont have to set your sight that high. At least not when youre a rookie anyway.
If you are new to intermittent fasting, go for the bare minimum of 16 hours first. Thats the 16/8 intermittent fasting protocol. The 16/8 intermittent fasting protocol gives you an 8-hour eating window which is not that hard to accomplish.
Once you conquer that, then you can gradually increase the fasting interval by adding one extra hour each time. There are people who will fast for 3 days or longer. Dont be jealous of them. Do what you are comfortable with, okay.
My longest fast was 36 hours but now I only do 24 hours on each fasting episode and I am happy with that. Serves my needs. Which leads me to:
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You Keep Breaking Your Fast
If you are used to snacking in between meals, staying without food for an extended fasting period could be difficult and affect your intermittent fasting results.
Consistently breaking your fast before your fasting window is up could be responsible for your lack of progress with intermittent fasting.
Your fasting period might be too long and switching your eating schedule a bit might be helpful. Consider reducing your fasting period to about 10-12 hours and begin to increase it as time goes on.
Moving up slowly allows your body to get used to going extended periods without food, therefore, you are less likely to break your fast prematurely.
When you can tolerate going longer without food, you could move up to the 16:8 intermittent fast. Here, you will have eight hours for feeding.
The Proposed Health Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting
When it comes to weight loss, there are two thoughts behind why IF has the potential to work. The first: Periods of fasting produce a net calorie deficit, and so you lose weight, explains Rekha Kumar, MD, a specialist in endocrinology, diabetes, and metabolism at the Comprehensive Weight Control Center at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYorkPresbyterian in New York City. The other concept is more complex: This approach may prevent whats called the plateau phenomenon from happening, she says.
You may remember the famous, so-called Biggest Loser study, published in August 2016 in the journal Obesity. The researchers followed up with participants after six years, and despite the initial impressive weight loss, they regained most of the weight, and their metabolic rates had slowed, such that they burned far fewer calories than would have been expected.
Though more research is needed on the safety and effectiveness of IF, one of the touted benefits of this approach is it may prevent this metabolic sputtering. Most people who try diet and exercise to lose weight tend to fall off the wagon and regain weight. Hormones that promote weight regain, like hunger hormones, are kicked into full gear, and the thought is that IF may be a way to prevent this metabolic adaptation from happening, says Dr. Kumar. Normal periods of eating in IF trick your body into losing weight before the plateau happens.
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Should I Try Intermittent Fasting
The most effective diet is the one you can stick to while still living your best life. Its hard to know which will work best before trying, but doctors and recent studies offer some guidance. Dr. Peterson said that complete, zero-calorie fasts generally prove to be too difficult to maintain. People stick with them maybe for the short-term, but they get quite hungry in the long-term, she said.
Time-restricted feeding fasting overnight and into the next morning is likely the easiest form of fasting to comply with. A longer than normal fasting period each night allows you to burn through some of your sugar stores, called glycogen. That does a couple things. It gives your body a little bit more time to burn fat. It also may help your body get rid of any extra salt in your diet, which would lower your blood pressure, Dr. Peterson said.
Should I Eat 6 Small Meals A Day
There are a few main reasons why diet books recommend six small meals:
1) When you eat a meal, your body does have to burn extra calories just to process that meal. So, the theory is that if you eat all day long with small meals, your body is constantly burning extra calories and your metabolism is firing at optimal capacity, right? Well, thats not true.
Whether you eat 2000 calories spread out throughout the day, or 2000 calories in a small window, your body will burn the same number of calories processing the food .
So, the whole keep your metabolism firing at optimum capacity by always eating sounds good in principle, but reality tells a different story.
2) When you eat smaller meals, you might be less likely to overeat during your regular meals. I can definitely see some truth here, especially for people who struggle with portion control or dont know how much food they should be eating.
However, once you educate yourself and take control of your eating, some might find that eating six times a day is very prohibitive and requires a lot of effort. I know I do.
Also, because youre eating six small meals, Id argue that you probably never feel full, and you might be MORE likely to eat extra calories during each snack.
Although grounded in seemingly logical principles, the six meals a day doesnt work for the reason you think it would , and generally only works for people who struggle with portion control .
Thats why we made this:
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You Can Tweak Your Fasting Schedule For Weight Maintenance
Here is the thing.
Even if you have hit your goal, you shouldnt rest on your laurels just yet. How about considering maintenance intermittent fasting protocol to keep your goals sustained?
Lets say you were doing alternate day fasting where you may have fasted for 4 or 5 days a week and you have now hit your target weight loss objective. How about you reduce that to fasting 2 days a week for maintenance.
How about you adopt the 5:2 intermittent fasting method where you cut down on your calories requirement to 20 or 30% for 2 days a week. Feasible? I sure think so.
How about you start skipping breakfast say 5 days a week and have your first meal of the day at 1pm and have one more meal at 8pm. Nothing else to eat again until 1pm the following day. Feasible? Definitely.
You can adopt any method that suits your professional and social life and tweak it to fit your lifestyle and carry on doing intermittent fasting for as long as possible and reap the benefits for life.
I personally always skip breakfast and I dont have my first meal until about 1.30pm, if I am lucky. Sometimes 3pm on a busy day at work. Then my main meal of the day is usually around 8pm. Lately I go straight for the 24-hour fast. Even better. Works for me!
The book below explains the 5:2 fasting plan. Get a copy from or over here on
Intermittent Fasting May Affect Men And Women Differently
There is some evidence that intermittent fasting may not be as beneficial for some women as it is for men.
One study showed that blood sugar control actually worsened in women after three weeks of intermittent fasting, which was not the case in men .
There are also many anecdotal stories of women who have experienced changes to their menstrual cycles after starting intermittent fasting.
Such shifts occur because female bodies are extremely sensitive to calorie restriction.
When calorie intake is low such as from fasting for too long or too frequently a small part of the brain called the hypothalamus is affected.
This can disrupt the secretion of gonadotropin-releasing hormone , a hormone that helps release two reproductive hormones: luteinizing hormone and follicle stimulating hormone (
For these reasons, women should consider a modified approach to intermittent fasting, such as shorter fasting periods and fewer fasting days.
Intermittent fasting may not be as beneficial for women as it is for men. To reduce any adverse effects, women should take a mild approach to fasting: shorter fasts and fewer fasting days.
Intermittent fasting not only benefits your waistline but may also lower your risk of developing a number of chronic diseases.
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It May Be Difficult For Some People To Stick To
One of the most obvious limitations of the Warrior Diet is that it restricts the time during which you may eat substantial meals to a four-hour period.
This can be difficult to stick to, especially when participating in normal social activities like going out to breakfast or lunch.
While some people may feel great when consuming very small amounts of calories over a 20-hour period, others may find that this way of eating is not ideal for their lifestyle.
Can You Lose Weight Quickly On Intermittent Fasting
When you start any new diet, the initial results are almost always encouraging. How long to see weight loss results with intermittent fasting? It can take anywhere from 24 weeks to show significant results.
The time frame really depends on how well you are able to change your diet during the eating schedule. When hunger strikes, if you eat high-calorie and high carbohydrate foods like cookies or easy-to-access packaged foods, you will not only compromise your nutrition, experience sugar spikes but also sabotage your weight loss goals.
You do have to eat healthy and nutritious food during the eating windows to show results. So you should keep to low-calorie or complex-carbohydrate foods, whole and natural foods to experience the many benefits of intermittent fasting.
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Intermittent Fasting Can Help Weight Loss
IF makes intuitive sense. The food we eat is broken down by enzymes in our gut and eventually ends up as molecules in our bloodstream. Carbohydrates, particularly sugars and refined grains , are quickly broken down into sugar, which our cells use for energy. If our cells dont use it all, we store it in our fat cells as, well, fat. But sugar can only enter our cells with insulin, a hormone made in the pancreas. Insulin brings sugar into the fat cells and keeps it there.
Between meals, as long as we dont snack, our insulin levels will go down and our fat cells can then release their stored sugar, to be used as energy. We lose weight if we let our insulin levels go down. The entire idea of IF is to allow the insulin levels to go down far enough and for long enough that we burn off our fat.
The Benefits Of Fasting Don’t Kick In At The Same Time For Every Person
Experts agree that your personal habits will play a role in when exactly certain health benefits will kick in. “There are very few definites here,” says Vincent Pedre, M.D., an integrative physician and gut health expert who frequently recommends intermittent fasting diets to his patients. “Where you start seeing those benefits depends on what you eat, how healthy your gut health is, what kind of physical activity you’re doing, etc.”
For example, letting calories slip into your fasting window, overeating calorie-dense foods like pizza during your eating window, not prioritizing sleep or physical activity, or making one of these intermittent-fasting mistakes could all delay or counteract the benefits of intermittent fasting.
Even if you’re formulating the rest of your diet and lifestyle perfectly, it’s important to understand that the different health benefits associated with intermittent fasting will likely kick in at different durations of fasting. For example, weight loss may be triggered by a relatively short fasting window, while entering ketosis or triggering autophagythat “self-cleaning” cellular process that boosts brain functioning and maybe even longevitymay take significantly longer.
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Path To Improved Health
Intermittent fasting is not a diet plan. While it may have some of the same health benefits as a diet, its really an eating pattern. It means you fast during a certain period of time each day . You then eat during another period of time each day . While youre fasting, you can drink beverages that dont contain calories, including water, black coffee, and unsweetened tea.
How fasting and eating is divided each day is called an eating schedule. One of the most common, easy-to-follow schedules is 16:8. This means you fast for a 16-hour period of time and eat your daily meals during an 8-hour period of time. For example, you may want to fast from 7 p.m. until 11 a.m. the next day. You would then eat a healthy lunch and dinner between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. You wouldnt eat anything after 7 p.m. until 11 a.m. the next day. This is just an example of times. You can select any 16-hour and 8-hour block of time that works best for your schedule. But its important to keep your eating window at the same every day.