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Should I fast daily?

There are many different fasting methods and finding one that works best for you will allow you to reap the most benefits.
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Summary

There are many ways in which to intermittent fast. Some forms are designed for daily practice, while others are not. By becoming familiar with the different forms of intermittent fasting, and the benefits you might experience from fasting daily according to certain guidelines, you can reap optimal effects from your intermittent fasting practice.

Written by
Dr. Sara Diana Garduno Diaz
PhD & Senior Nutrition Consultant

While many forms of intermittent fasting exist, some of them can be extreme and thus not designed for daily practice. However, a more gentle form of intermittent fasting may be beneficial and feasible to practice every day: overnight fasting or the 12:12 method. 


While traditional wisdom once warned to never skip meals and labeled breakfast as the “most important meal of the day,” recent studies have challenged this belief. Skipping meals can boost your metabolism, not slow it down. Skipping breakfast seems to be as beneficial as skipping dinner, so pick the option you prefer.The important thing seems to be to make the practice as regular as possible. 

How often should I intermittent fast?

With intermittent fasting you go through cycles of eating within a certain window of time, and then abstaining from food for a defined period. The length and frequency of the fast depends on the approach you take.


If you are starting out with intermittent fasting, you may want to begin with a moderate schedule. It may be necessary to begin with a 12:12 fast once a week and work your way up to a longer, more regular fasting schedule such as eating for only 8 hours daily. 

If your body adapts well, you can aim for a regular weekly schedule. You might even want to work yourself up to a daily fasting schedule.

Sadly, many people fall into a pattern of not eating all day, then overeating all night, and going to bed stuffed. This way of disrupted eating can have several negative effects on health, including the dreaded weight gain that so many people struggle with. For that reason, it is recommended to not eat too late at night to better support the body’s natural rhythms.


There’s no right way to set up your fasting frequency. It’s crucial to pay attention to how your body responds to your fasting schedule and adjust it if necessary. Keep in mind that life is dynamic and at some point it may be necessary to adapt your schedule to events, such as gatherings, trips and physical activity.

To sum up, yes, it is possible to fast daily, as long as you ensure to consume sufficient energy and nutrients during your eating window so as not to compromise your health. Methods such as 12:12, 14:10, 16:8 can be practiced daily without major risks. 

How many hours should I intermittent fast daily?

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Selecting how to set up your fasting hours and eating windows should be a very personalized process. Ideally, try not to blindly follow what other people suggest based on their experiences, rather, design a fasting plan based on what works best for your lifestyle and schedule. 


In addition to considering your daily routine of activities, listen to your body and pay attention to when you feel hungry. If for example you are a person who wakes up hungry, eating right away upon waking and stopping food consumption after dinner might be optimal for you. 


If you usually do not eat breakfast already, you can begin eating at midday and stop eating later in the evening. Some research has shown benefits to eating most of your calories earlier in the day, but selecting fasting hours that work for you is paramount (1).


Beginner-friendly fasting schedules include 12:12, 14:10 and 16:8. These may already be part of your daily routine. From here, and once you have undergone a few sessions of beginner-friendly fasts, you can work your way up to prolonged fasting periods. 


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Frequently asked questions


How long should I fast daily?

There are various methods of intermittent fasting, and people will prefer different styles. The most popular intermittent fasting methods suggest fasting for a minimum of 12 hours to a maximum of 24. The time frame will depend on your level of experience with fasting. You can try starting with skipping one meal and working your way up to longer periods of abstaining from food. 

Why should I fast for 12 hours daily?

According to some experts (2), fasting for 10–16 hours may allow the body to turn its fat stores into energy, which releases ketones into the bloodstream. This should encourage weight loss, begin the process of reducing inflammation and lead to the renewal of body cells for new, fresh and highly functional cells.

What time should I fast daily?

Intermittent fasting is not a quick fix diet, it is a pattern of eating that develops optimally over time and will deliver top benefits when incorporated regularly into your life. Intermittent fasting is a way of scheduling your eating time so that you get the most out of them. The exact time when you avoid food is up to you but should allow you to prolong the fasting window as much as possible, and this tends to include sleeping hours and avoiding the meal right before or after sleeping (3).


References:

  1. Paoli A, Tinsley G, Bianco A, Moro T. The Influence of Meal Frequency and Timing on Health in Humans: The Role of Fasting. Nutrients. 2019;11(4):719. Published 2019 Mar 28. doi:10.3390/nu11040719.
  1. Collier R. Intermittent fasting: the science of going without. CMAJ. 2013;185(9):E363-E364. doi:10.1503/cmaj.109-4451.
  1. Haouari-Oukerro, F., et al. "Ramadan fasting influences on food intake consumption, sleep schedule, body weight and some plasma parameters in healthy fasting volunteers." African Journal of Biotechnology 12.21 (2013).

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