What is fasting?
Fasting is basically just going without any food at all for a certain period of time.
Intermittent Fasting alternates between periods of fasting and eating within one day (or sometimes two days for ADF).
Extended Fasting means not having any food at all for several days. 3-5 days are the most common duration. But some people choose to go for much longer, like 21 or 30 days.
Let’s look at Intermittent Fasting first.
What’s Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting (IF) is a normal way of life where you have periods of fasting followed by periods of feasting (called a “window”).
Simple! No counting calories or keeping track of macros. You eat, and then you don’t eat. Then repeat.
Intermittent Fasting is based on the idea that what you eat is not as important as when you eat.
What are common IF protocols?
There are many different Intermittent Fasting schedules. Here are some of the more popular ones:
A 16 hour fast followed by an 8 hour eating window. Many people start out with 16/8
19/5 or 20/4
Same concept as 16/8, but pushing the fasting hours up more
Stands for One Meal a Day. You eat one meal, then fast until your meal the next day
This stands for Alternate Day Fasts. You’ll eat one day, fast from the time of your last meal through the next day and night, then eat again the following day
Rolling 48’s (or rolling 72’s)
Many people fast for 48 hours, follow that with a day of normal eating, then go right back into another 48 hour fast. The nice thing about rolling 48’s or rolling 72’s is that you regularly hit the sweet spot for autophagy.
One of the best things about Intermittent Fasting is that it is flexible. You don’t have to stick to any one schedule.
You can and should mix things up to suit your lifestyle. Experiment and see what works best for you.
What are the health benefits of IF?
Besides being an amazing weight loss tool, Intermittent Fasting offers many health benefits.
Here’s some that are commonly reported:
- Prevention and even reversal of metabolic diseases such as diabetes
- Lower risks of heart disease
- Better blood sugar levels
- Lower blood pressure
- Increased insulin sensitivity
- Better gut health
- Mental clarity
- Improved quality of sleep
- Appetite control
Is Intermittent Fasting better than Extended Fasting?
That depends on what you think of as “better.”
Let’s ask it this way: Is intermittent fasting better for you? Because it is a very individual thing.
For some people, the idea of going long periods of time without food is not doable. Still others find it easier once they start to just keep going.
For those who are severely obese or have severe health conditions, extended fasting might offer quicker results.
All that being said, a consistent Intermittent Fasting practice will get you the same benefits as Extended Fasting. It will just take a little longer.
How quickly can I lose weight on Intermittent Fasting?
That depends on a few things:
- How consistent you are
- The kinds of foods you eat during your refeed and how much
- How many hours of fasting you get in a day
- Your current weight
- Your current metabolic health
But generally speaking, once you get into fat burning, the “normal” fat loss is around half a pound a day.
That might not sound like much, but a steady weight loss is easier to maintain.
For those who have a lot of weight to lose, it often comes off faster.
Men also tend to lose quicker (so not fair, ladies).
When is the best time of day for a fasting window?
The best time of day is the time that works best for you and your lifestyle.
Fasting is flexible, it’s not set in stone. You should always try to schedule your window around your life.
One thing to keep in mind, though: eating in the evenings is usually harder to burn off.
Try to have your window closed no later than three or four hours before your normal bedtime.
Do I have to do keto with Intermittent Fasting?
You don’t have to.
Again, Intermittent Fasting is based more on when you eat than what you eat.
But choosing a keto lifestyle can get you back into fat burning quicker because you don’t have to burn through the glucose from a high carb meal.
A good rule of thumb is, the shorter your fasts, the more strict you need to be with carbs and sugars.
No matter how you choose to eat, aim for nutrition and avoid junk food and highly processed foods.
Do you need supplements for IF?
We do recommend daily electrolytes for IF.
Many people don’t get enough electrolytes in their current diet. When you lose fat, you lose water, and with it electrolytes. So it’s easy to get too low on them. However, you won’t need as much as with extended fasting.
Intermittent Fasting Can Help You Achieve Your Goals
With consistent Intermittent Fasting, you can reach your weight loss goals and enjoy a healthier life.
Unlike dieting, Intermittent Fasting is a lifestyle that you can maintain on an ongoing basis.
Once you get used to it, it’s much simpler and easier than dieting.
What is Extended Fasting?
Extended Fasting is usually defined as fasting beyond 72 hours.
Some people fast for a week or two weeks.
It’s possible to go even longer than that, with proper medical supervision.
Is it really safe to go that long without food?
For most people, Extended Fasting is considered safe. You have to remember that even though you’re not putting food in your mouth, your body has a fuel source—your stored fat.
Some people, however, should not fast. Do not fast if any of the following apply:
- Low BMI (under 20)
- Pregnant or breastfeeding
- History of eating disorders
Children should not fast as they need consistent nutrients supply for growth.
You should always consult with your doctor if you plan to do an Extended Fast, especially if you have any medical conditions or you are on any medications.
What are the benefits of Extended Fasting?
Extended Fasting has many benefits. Some of those include:
- Weight loss – the obvious one and the reason many people come to fasting
- Prevention and reversal of metabolic diseases
- Increased insulin sensitivity
- Freedom from food addictions
- Mental clarity
- Increased energy
Is Extended Fasting better than Intermittent Fasting?
That depends! For people who have a lot more weight to lose, Extended Fasting can bring quicker results.
Many people prefer the ease of just continuing to fast, rather than starting and stopping over and over with Intermittent Fasting.
For others, the thought of going long periods of time without food is scary, and that’s okay.
You can still get the same results from Intermittent Fasting if done consistently. It might just take a little longer to get there.
Will Extended Fasting mess up my metabolism?
For most people, no. It can actually boost your metabolism.
It’s important to note that fasting is not the same as dieting.
Eating no food is not the same as eating smaller portions of food, as in a calorie-restricted diet.
Yo-yo dieting is what messes up the metabolism.
What can I eat during Extended Fasting?
You don’t eat anything at all during an Extended Fast.
Some people include bone broth, but only sips, and just enough to help push through.
What can I drink on an Extended Fast?
Water, coffee, and tea, with no added sugars or sweeteners.
If you are struggling to keep fasting, some experts recommend adding one tablespoon of fat (heavy cream, butter, etc.) to your coffee or tea several times a day. This would technically break your fast but calories from fat will be quickly expended and you may find it easier to continue with your fast.
How can I deal with hunger and cravings during an Extended Fast?
Surprisingly, hunger is not that much of an issue while fasting.
Once you’re past the first three days or so, most people report little to no hunger or cravings.
But if you do struggle, here are some tips to help:
- Ride the waves! Hunger comes in waves and if you can just wait it out for 15 minutes or so it will usually subside.
- If you have a specific craving, remind yourself that you can have it after your fast is over. Nine times out of ten, you won’t even want it then.
- Try to make peace with hunger. Understand that it’s just a feeling, like any other feeling, and it doesn’t have to be negative. You can choose to see it as a positive sign that your body is burning fat.
- Get support! It helps to have a fasting buddy or a coach you can reach out to.
- Stay busy! And not just physically busy. Keep your mind busy, as well.
- Do something creative. Did you know that creative activities such as crochet, painting, or writing release some of the same feel-good hormones as when you have your favorite snack?
- Have some salt or a few sips of pickle juice. Hunger is often a signal that you are low on salt.
- Drink some water. Hunger is often confused with thirst.
Do I need electrolytes for Extended Fasting?
Absolutely. You will need sodium, magnesium, and potassium. You can find these in our Fasting Salts.
If you plan to fast for 14 days or more, you will also need to start B1 and phosphorus at least 30 minutes prior to breaking your fast.
What about vitamins? Will I need those?
You don’t have to take them, but you can if you want.
How do I know when to break my Extended Fast?
It’s mostly up to you, but there are some signs to watch out for. If you experience any of the following, it’s probably a good idea to break your fast and do a safe refeed:
- Nausea that doesn’t go away, despite being hydrated and taking your electrolytes
- Rapid or irregular heart rate
- Sudden or extreme weakness – You might experience some general weakness at first, due to blood sugars dropping, but weakness that comes on suddenly or is extreme is a sign to break your fast
- The return of natural hunger – Natural hunger is different than the hunger pains we get in the tummy, it is felt in the mouth and throat and comes after many days of having no hunger
Any feeling that something is wrong should be honoured, always listen to your body and break the fast if you feel you need to.
What’s the best way to break my Extended Fast?
It’s important to break your fast gently and with caution. Your body will need some time to adjust. This transition back to the normal way of eating is your refeed phase.
Plan to refeed for half as many days as you fasted. So for a five-day fast, two days of refeeding should be fine. But if you fasted for 14 days, you would need to refeed for at least seven days.
Stay away from heavy carbs. No pastas, rice, or starchy vegetables like potatoes. Foods that are easy to digest are best, especially the first few days.
Avoid junk food and highly-processed foods.
Start with small quantities of food and gradually increase. Think spoonfuls at first, not bowlfuls or platefuls.
Extended Fasting is a great option
Extended Fasting is a wonderful tool for weight loss, health, and longevity. It’s an amazing feeling when you find out what you’re truly capable of!
But if EF doesn’t sound appealing to you, there are other ways of eating you can try. Intermittent Fasting comes with many of the same benefits, as do Keto and Carnivore diets.
The key is to find a way of eating that you can stick to and to stay consistent!