I’ll never forget when I first started fasting. I was obsessed with my eating and fasting times. But the truth is you don’t have to fast for the same amount of time each day to yield positive results.
Daily your body is in either a fasted or fed state. There’s no in-between.
Some days you may fast longer than other days. This is not a problem. It all evens out in the end.
Fast for More Than 12 Hours, You’ll Start to Yield the Benefits
It is generally agreed upon in the fasting community that the body switches over to being fasted around the 12-hour mark. This is when the body starts using its fat stores for energy rather than glucose.
Your body will switch over to using glucose as soon as you start eating again.
Besides weight/body fat loss, other benefits of fasting include:
- Improved insulin sensitivity ( this prevents the onset of type 2 diabetes)
- Better regulation of blood pressure
- Improvement of your metabolism (your body learns how to use fat for energy)
- Reduced inflammation (inflammation is the root cause of many common diseases like heart disease)
- Fights cancer cells ( which need glucose to survive)
- Reduces the effects of aging and brain degeneration
As you can see, any break from constantly eating helps your body tremendously.
If you’re new to intermittent fasting shoot for 12–14 hour fasts. Many anecdotal and scientific evidence report the reduction of weight and most of the benefits I listed above.
Fasting for Over 16 Hours Should Be a Gradual Process
As you get used to fasting for 12–14 hours you may want to extend your fasting time.
A period of 3–4 months should be a sufficient amount of time for you to start experimenting with longer fasts. Keep in mind that depending on your goals it may not be practical or necessary for you to fast over 14 hours.
If you’re starting to plateau but don’t want to extend your fasts, try:
- Working out in a fasted state. Fasted workouts allow you to burn through your glycogen stores in your liver faster. You’ll switch over to full fat-burning mode in about 12 hours instead of 18–20 hours.
- Eat a low carb diet like keto or LCHF (low carb, high fat). Low carb diets keep your body running off of ketones for energy. Over time you’ll burn fat stores in a more efficient manner.
- Increase workout intensity. The more energy you expend the more fat your body will use for energy.
If you in fact do desire to extend your fasting times make sure that you don’t jump into 16–23 hour fasts every day.
Do longer fasts once or twice a week initially. This will prevent burnout. It’ll also help you learn on a deeper level what your body needs.
Protocols like OMAD (one meal a day) and alternate-day fasting should be used sparingly in your first couple years of fasting.
You have a great chance of going too deep into a caloric deficit. This can cause you to feel depleted. You also run the risk of not nourishing your body properly.
Daily fasting keeps you in a permanent caloric deficit if your diet is filled with whole minimally processed foods. It’s easy to go overboard.
Take it from me.
One winter I did OMAD fasting too often. Eventually, I felt depleted, cold, and cranky all the time. It took me about a month to fully recover from my severe caloric deficit.
Extended fasting does have more benefits than shorter daily fasts. But it’s best to slowly work towards this goal.
Focus More on Meal Quality and Lifestyle Rather Than Timing
The quality of your diet and lifestyle is a much better measurement of productive fasting than duration.
Most people don’t fast at all.
In fact, they never give their body a break from digestion. Eating 12–15 hours a day is a surefire way to increase your risk of metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome includes at least three of the maladies listed below:
- Obesity (abdominal obesity)
- High blood sugar
- High blood pressure
- High triglycerides
- Abnormal cholesterol levels
Metabolic syndrome increases your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
To avoid this any break from eating over 12 hours is recommended.
Even if you don’t fast every day. You can fast 4–5 times a week and greatly improve your health and quality of life.
Pair fasting with:
- Having a good exercise routine
- Create healthy, loving relationships
- Have a sustainable spiritual practice
- Consume a diet filled with healthy foods that you enjoy eating
If you implement healthy practices, fasting will be an asset for you regardless of the duration.
Here’s a Guide That’ll Help You With Hunger As You Create Your Optimal Fasting Schedule
Download the Stop Hunger Guide. Implement the 5 tips suggested. You’ll see a positive change in a short period of time.