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How Long Should You Fast For Intermittent Fasting

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How Long Should You Fast With Intermittent Fasting?

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.

Who Shouldnt Try Intermittent Fasting

Not everyone should try IF. A few groups who shouldnt: women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant , those taking diabetes medication , or anyone on multiple drugs , says Kumar. Also, if you have a history of eating disorders, introducing periods where youre not allowed to eat can put you on a dangerous path to a relapse.

Know that IF has some side effects. You may be cranky hanger is real during fasting periods because low blood sugar can mess with your mood. You also still need to have a healthy diet when you do eat. One thought is that it would be difficult to make up a calorie deficit if you fasted for two days, but in our society with access to calorie-dense items, you could probably do it, says Kumar. Focus on balanced, nutrient-packed choices, like fruits, vegetables, lean meats, legumes, and whole grains . Expect that for the first couple of weeks you may deal with lower energy, bloating, and cravings until your body adjusts, says Shemek.

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Intermittent Fasting Aids In Weight Loss

The best and most obvious benefit of intermittent fasting for men is that it aids in weight loss.

During the hours you are eating, it’s important that you don’t pack in as much food as possible.

You want to eat the normal amount of meals you would for the time period.

Intermittent fasting will help you to eat fewer meals and snacks in a 24-hour period.

Intermittent fasting also helps to improve the function of the weight loss hormone.

As long as we dont snack, our insulin levels will go down, and our fat cells can release their stored sugar to be used as energy.

Studies have shown that alternate day fasting blood sugar levels, which can be beneficial for both diabetics and weight loss promotion.

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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:

Frequency Of Intermittent Fasting

6 Popular Ways to Do Intermittent Fasting

Now that you understand how to do intermittent fasting, it raises a question: How often should you fast?

The answer varies from person to person. Most people implement the above schedules every week or every other week. If youre new to fasting, start with a moderate schedule, trying it every other week or every three weeks. If your body adapts well, aim for a regular weekly schedule.

Theres no wrong answer here. Pay close attention to how your body responds to your fasting schedule and adjust it as needed. Keep in mind that life changes can happen. You may need to tweak your schedule to allow for social gatherings, vacations, and physical activity or competition.

Recommended Reading: What Can I Eat During 16 8 Intermittent Fasting

How Long Should I Intermittent Fast To Lose Weight

To lose weight, it is recommended to intermittent fasting, men can fast for 16 hours and eat for 8 hours while women are recommended to fast for 14 hours and eat what they want for the remaining 10 hours.

You are not expected to eat any food during the fasting but can drink as many no-calorie drinks as you want and it can be done once or twice per week or every day.

Recommended Reading: Can You Drink Alcohol While Intermittent Fasting

What Are The Possible Side Effects

There can be a number of possible side effects of intermittent fasting.40 Heres what to do if you encounter them:

  • Hunger is the most common side effect of intermittent fasting. This may be less of an issue if youre already on a keto or low-carb, higher-fat diet.41Learn more
  • Constipation is common. Less going in means less going out. However, keep in mind this is a normal response to eating less. It is not a concern and shouldnt require treatment unless you experience significant bloating or abdominal discomfort. Standard laxatives or magnesium supplements can be used, if needed.
  • Headaches are common and tend to disappear after the first few times on fasts.42 Taking some extra salt often helps mitigate such headaches.43
  • Mineral water may help if your stomach tends to gurgle.
  • Other possible side effects include dizziness, heartburn and muscle cramps. Learn more

A more serious side effect is the refeeding syndrome. Fortunately, this is rare and generally only happens with extended fasts when one is undernourished.44

Since most of these side effects are manageable, they do not mean you have to stop your fast. However, if you truly feel unwell, are excessively dizzy, profoundly weak or have other severe symptoms, then you should break your fast.

Just remember to go slowly when you break it and prioritize fluids and salt . And of course, if the symptoms persist, see your doctor immediately.

Read Also: Which Is Better Keto Or Intermittent Fasting

The Fasted State Vs Fed State

When you eat every few hours, youre in a fed state, which is when your body is busy digesting, absorbing, and assimilating the nutrients from your meals. Accelerated fat burning isnt the #1 priority here. Most of us remain in the fed state during the day, aside from when were sleeping.

The reason why intermittent fasting can provide certain benefits for weight loss is because it allows your body to enter the fasted state, which is when your bodys fat burning can really accelerate.

A Note On Calories And Nutrition

How Often Should You Do Intermittent Fasting?

When practicing intermittent fasting, its imperative you get enough nutrients the right nutrients, that is during your eating window.

Be sure to stick to your low-carb, keto meal plan, eating plenty of healthy fats, plus dark, leafy greens and plenty of protein. Simply because you have skipped a meal or gone a full 24 hours without eating, do not use it as an excuse to pack in the sugars, starch, junk food, or other foods low in nutrients.

Focus on real whole foods so you get the most nutrients outside your fasting window. This allows you the benefits of fasting while still consuming optimal nutrition.

The key here is to make the benefits of intermittent fasting work for you over the long-term, for your work patterns and lifestyle.

Also Check: What Can I Drink On Intermittent Fasting

Fasting: New Twist On An Old Tradition

Historically, the word breakfast described the first meal of the day no matter when that meal occurred. It wasnt until the 15th century that the word started being recognized as the meal you consume shortly after waking.

Nowadays, with intermittent fasting gaining popularity, the meaning of the word breakfast is going back to its original roots. Breakfast for the intermittent faster is the meal consumed when you choose to break your fast, be it 6:00 AM or 6:00 PM.

Fasting, especially for religious purposes, has been a common occurrence for centuries. And generally, throughout most of human history, not much concern was given to how to break the fast.

However, in an age of poor dietary advice, when we are told to eat all day long and when hyper-palatable highly processed food abounds it can take a little more planning to resume eating in a way that achieves the most physical comfort and most effective results for your long-term health and weight loss goals.

How To Break A Fast

We almost forgot about the last and perhaps most important stage of intermittent fasting the refeeding stage! Its important to break your fast with a nutritious, balanced meal that will further improve the function of cells and tissues that went through cleanup while you were fasting. From :

Upon refeeding, ingested carbohydrates* and glucose stimulate release into the blood of the incretin hormone glucagon-like peptide 1 from enteroendocrine cells in the gut. GLP1 enhances clearance of glucose from the blood by stimulating insulin release from the pancreas and increases the insulin sensitivity of cells. GLP1 crosses the bloodbrain barrier and can act directly on neurons to promote synaptic plasticity, enhance cognition and bolster cellular stress resistance.

*Update: This isnt a recommendation to break your fast with lots of carbs and sugars, which may in fact lead to problematic blood sugar spikes. A few carbs can go a long way. Its best to break your fast with a balanced meal including plenty of vegetables, plant fibers and plant fats, with healthy proteins and some whole grains or legumes if you choose. Avoid simple sugars and processed/packaged foods. Learn what works best for your body, and what you feel best eating following your fasts.

Also Check: What To Expect When You Start Intermittent Fasting

What Are The Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting

Weight loss isnt the only benefit of IF. Fasting is a practice that dates back to ancient times, and in some cultures is still practiced regularly.

Health benefits are a pleasant side effect of IF, and many of those perks can affect womens health specifically.

Musculoskeletal health. This includes conditions like osteoporosis, arthritis, and lower back pain. Fasting has been shown to promote hormone secretion from the thyroid. This can promote bone health and help prevent bone fractures.

Metabolic health. Some women go through menopause in their 50s. Menopause can cause changes in your body that increase belly fat, insulin, and glucose. Fasting can help you decrease your blood pressure, cholesterol, and belly fat, which can improve insulin sensitivity. Fasting can also keep your metabolism on track as you age.

Mental health. Fasting has been shown to promote mental health. It may reduce anxiety, depression, and the emotional roller coaster that can go hand-in-hand with menopause. Fasting has also been proven to improve self-esteem and reduce stress.

Other proven benefits of IF include:

  • Improved memory

General Tips For Intermittent Fasting

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  • Go to bed early. I cannot stress this enough, intermittent fasting will be way easier if you go to sleep early. Im not saying that you have to go to bed at 8pm, but being in bed between 10pm-12am each night is ideal. Not only does this eliminate the chance of having a midnight snack, but you will likely wake up with only a couple hours of fasting remaining.

  • Use caffeine as an appetite suppressant. Caffeine is a great supplement for people trying to lose weight because it suppresses your appetite. I recommend black coffee to anyone that partakes in intermittent fasting. If you wake up in the morning and realize you still have to fast for quite a bit, a cup of coffee can make a huge difference. Your hunger will be curbed, and you will, of course, be energized to start the day. If you are not a fan of coffee, you can always elect to use a 0 calorie energy drink, pre-workout, or caffeine supplement. If you venture this route, just make sure the product has 0 calories so you dont break your fast.

  • Also Check: How Much Can I Eat During Intermittent Fasting

    Pros Of Intermittent Fasting For Women

    “There is substantial research to support the therapeutic benefits of fasting,” says Jillian Greaves M.P.H., R.D., L.D.N. Integrative Functional Dietitian at Prevention Pantry Nutrition. “Some potential health benefits include improved cellular health, improved metabolic markers, and weight loss.”Studies show that intermittent fasting leads to weight loss in women, but doesn’t lead to any more weight loss than a calorie deficit overall. However, the structure of IF makes it easier for some to reduce caloric intake.

    Intermittent fasting can boost fat burn too. When we eat, blood sugar rises and insulin is released to take glucose to our cells for energy. Extra glucose is stored as fast. If you don’t eat for 10-16 hours, your body will start to use its fat stores for energy.

    A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that in a fasted state, cellular repair occurs, which is linked to increased longevity, reduced risk of cancer, lower inflammation and improved metabolism. However, many of the studies are in animals and more studies in women are needed.

    There’s also emerging research that eating in sync with circadian rhythm keeps chronic diseases at bay. In other words, eating during a 6-10 hour window during the day, when it’s light outside, and reducing nighttime eating.

    Intermittent Fasting Can Be Hard But Maybe It Doesnt Have To Be

    Initial human studies that compared fasting every other day to eating less every day showed that both worked about equally for weight loss, though people struggled with the fasting days. So, its very reasonable to choose a reduced calorie plant-based, Mediterranean-style diet. But research suggests that not all IF approaches are the same, and some IF diets are indeed effective and sustainable, especially when combined with a nutritious plant-based diet.

    We have evolved to be in sync with the day/night cycle, i.e., a circadian rhythm. Our metabolism has adapted to daytime food, nighttime sleep. Nighttime eating is well associated with a higher risk of obesity, as well as diabetes.

    Based on this, researchers from the University of Alabama conducted a study with a small group of obese men with prediabetes. They compared a form of intermittent fasting called “early time-restricted feeding,” where all meals were fit into an early eight-hour period of the day , or spread out over 12 hours . Both groups maintained their weight but after five weeks, the eight-hours group had dramatically lower insulin levels and significantly improved insulin sensitivity, as well as significantly lower blood pressure. The best part? The eight-hours group also had significantly decreased appetite. They werent starving.

    Just changing the timing of meals, by eating earlier in the day and extending the overnight fast, significantly benefited metabolism even in people who didnt lose a single pound.

    Also Check: Is Fasting Good For Diabetics

    Does It Have Benefits

    The Warrior Diet does not have any research to back up its exact methods, but intermittent fasting does.

    Though the Warrior Diet is a bit more extreme than other, more common types of intermittent fasting like the 16:8 method , its simply a stricter version of this method.

    For this reason, one could argue that the benefits linked to intermittent fasting also apply to the Warrior Diet.

    How Do You Get Started With Intermittent Fasting

    How Long Should You Intermittent Fast For?

    One common mistake I see with Intermittent Fasting is people jump in without a plan. I’ve seen this mistake lead to hormone imbalances, extreme sugar cravings and halted weight loss results. I believe that knowledge is power and with the right tools, you can achieve your wellness dreams while still eat foods you love!

    That’s why I created The Complete Intermittent Fasting Program. It contains all of the latest research on Intermittent Fasting, breaks down the science so you can understand what you’re doing and why. It even has 8 weeks of meal-by-meal planning with delicious recipes to help keep you satiated AND your taste buds happy! I’m talking L.A. Street Tacos, Pumpkin Chili, Strawberry Coconut Muffins, Spicy Curry and MORE! The Program also includes a 3 week workout program and exercise strategies specifically designed for Intermittent Fasting in order to maximize your fat burning results!

    Also Check: What Fasting Plan Is Best For Me

    Foods List And Meal Plan

    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 helps round out your diet and supports a healthy weight. Try balancing each meal with a wide variety of whole foods, such as:

    • Fruits: apples, bananas, berries, oranges, peaches, pears, tomatoes, etc.
    • Veggies: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cucumbers, leafy greens, etc.
    • Whole grains: barley, buckwheat, quinoa, rice, oats, etc.
    • Healthy fats: olive oil and avocados
    • Protein sources: eggs, fish, legumes, meat, poultry, nuts, seeds, etc.

    Drinking calorie-free beverages like water and unsweetened tea and coffee, even while fasting, also helps control your appetite while keeping you hydrated.

    Its best to avoid ultra-processed foods like packaged snacks, deep-fried items, sugary drinks, and most frozen meals. These negate the positive effects of 16/8 intermittent fasting and may harm your health.

    Summary

    To begin 16/8 intermittent fasting, choose an 8-hour window and limit your food intake to that time span. Be sure to follow a balanced diet based in whole foods.

    Summary

    Animal and human studies suggest that intermittent fasting may increase weight loss, improve blood sugar levels, and extend longevity.

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