Intermittent fasting has been getting a lot of attention lately – and for good reasons. This dietary hack can help give you more energy, increase your focus, and increase your resistance to stress.
Trying out a new lifestyle change can bring up quite a few questions, such as how long should you fast? There’s no one right answer to this question.
Learning how to intermittent fast involves finding a technique that can work with your lifestyle.
One of the great things about intermittent fasting is that it’s flexible. While most people can benefit from this practice, you may need to try out a few different styles before figuring what works best for you.
1. 12 Hour Intermittent Fasting
The twelve-hour fast is a great place to start as a beginner, you may naturally do this without even knowing it!
If you tend to eat dinner relatively early and don’t eat first thing in the morning, you most likely already do the 12 hour fast. The 12 hour fast means fasting for twelve consecutive hours, most of which is while you’re asleep.
Say you finish eating dinner before 8 p.m., and eat breakfast around 8 a.m, well you’ve just done a 12 hour fast!
Why 12 hours?
Researchers have found that the twelve-hour mark is a key point in your metabolic switch. Your body transforms the carbohydrates you eat into sugar which can be used for energy. This sugar is known as ‘glucose’. That glucose then turns into glycogen which can be stored easily by your muscles and liver.
After fasting for twelve hours, the liver’s glycogen stores become depleted, and the body turns to its stores of fatty acids for energy. This process releases ketones into the bloodstream, which helps to preserve muscle mass and function.
2. Meal Skipping
Another way to practice intermittent fasting is by meal skipping.
This technique is also great for beginners and doesn’t require much planning ahead.
If you find yourself eating out of habit, boredom, or because of a social setting, meal skipping may be a great way to stop unnecessary snacking.
Meal skipping intermittent fasting means occasionally skipping meals. The best way to practice this method is by tracking your body’s hunger signals and only eating when you’re actually hungry. If you’re not hungry, you skip that meal.
It may seem straightforward, but think about how often you eat without being hungry. Whether it’s mindless snacking, social eating, or eating out of routine, many people eat despite not being hungry.
Meal skipping can help you get in touch with your body’s signals and focus on what your body needs – and when.
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3. 16/8 Fasting Method
Were you able to fast for 12 hours without difficulty? Did you try the 12 hour fast but didn’t notice any benefits?
Then you may want to try the 16 hour fast.
This method involves limiting your eating to a window of eight hours per day and fasting for the remaining 16. For most people, this means eating between the hours of 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. If you already tend to skip breakfast, this method will be a breeze for you!
Some people choose to have their eating window in the morning as early time restricted eating followed by fasting can improve insulin sensitivity, blood pressure, and oxidative stress.
Remember what we said about glycogen stores? Well the longer you fast, the more time the body has to turn fat into fuel. With a 16 hour fast, the body has anywhere from four to six hours for this process, versus only one to two hours with a 12 hour fast.
What are some other benefits of the 16 hour fast? This easy to stick to eating plan helps people reduce bloating, lose weight, lower their cholesterol levels, decrease blood pressure, and stabilize their blood sugar levels.
Sometimes the smallest changes can make a huge difference when it comes to your well-being.
Intermittent fasting can help improve your cognition, reduce inflammation in the body, increase your resistance to injury and disease, and just help you feel better overall.
4. The 24 Hour Fast (eat: stop: eat method)
If you’ve already tried the 12 and 16 hour fast, you may want to try this method.
The 24 hour fast, also known as the Eat-Stop-Eat diet, is just what it sounds like – fasting for 24 hours, once or twice a week.
The 24-hour fasting window may last from breakfast to breakfast or lunch to lunch. During the fasting period, people still have tea, water, and calorie-free drinks. It’s important to stay hydrated!
There’s a common misconception that ESE involves not eating for a calendar day, when actually it means fasting for 24 hours. This could mean you eat an early breakfast on Tuesday, and then fast from 9 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Thursday. Although this is 24 hours, it is not technically a full calendar day, as you are still eating on two consecutive days.
People who practice this method eat normally during the times they’re not fasting. This restricts their overall calorie intake, without limiting what foods they eat.
Fasting for 24 hours can increase the autophagy process, which is when your damaged cell components are broken down and reused which can help increase metabolism, decrease oxidative stress, and encourage healthy brain aging.
Some people experience headaches, fatigue, and irritability when trying out this method, but these symptoms usually lessen over time, and can largely be mitigated by staying hydrated with electrolytes.
5. Curb Your Cravings During Intermittent Fasting
Like any lifestyle change, one of the keys to seeing results from intermittent fasting is consistency.
Intermittent fasting typically gets easier with time, but during the adjustment period, you may experience side effects like hunger pains, irritability, and sudden cravings.
Tools like Citravarin can help curb cravings and make fasting easier.
Citravarin contains the naturally occuring cannabinoid THCV. Although its cousin THC is known for increasing appetite, aka “the munchies”, THCV reduces appetite. Cannabinoids aren’t just in the cannabis plant, Citravarin is derived from citrus peel extracts, and is completely free of cannabis.
Another key to intermittent fasting is eating nutritious and satisfying meals when you’re not fasting. This is key to helping stabilize blood sugar levels and energy so that you can keep going strong through your day.
It may take some trial and error to find the best intermittent fasting method for you, but in a short amount of time, you can feel the benefits for yourself.
- Glycogen Metabolism – Biochemistry – NCBI Bookshelf
- Flipping the Metabolic Switch: Understanding and Applying Health Benefits of Fasting
- Metabolic effects of fasting on human and mouse blood in vivo
- Intermittent fasting and caloric restriction ameliorate age-related behavioral deficits in the triple-transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease
- Caloric restriction and intermittent fasting: Two potential diets for successful brain aging
- Early Time-Restricted Feeding Improves Insulin Sensitivity, Blood Pressure, and Oxidative Stress Even Without Weight Loss in Men with Prediabetes