Best fasting period for weight loss
So many people benefit from fasting, and they’re finding it so easy to do, but other people are afraid because there are so many strange notions floating around.
So today, I want to clarify some of those misconceptions and talk about the best length of time to do your fasting. Who needs to do what?
First, let’s demystify the whole concept to get comfortable when we eat something that allows us to store something.
We use some of the energy for the time being, but the excess we can store. We can keep a tiny little as carbohydrates, and most of it we store as fat because it’s the most energy-dense form of storage.
It’s the most efficient way to do it. How we store it, whether glycogen as sugar carbohydrate or whether we keep it as fat, is insulin. Insulin is the hormone that allows us to put things into cells. Now here is the big question.
Why would we ever want to do that?
This is like putting things you put fat in the body stores. That’s like you’re putting food in your pantry.
Why would you do that?
- And the answer is because you plan to use it at some later point. So then, when we don’t eat, how can we reverse the process, burn that fat, and take that stuff out of the pantry?
- That doesn’t sound so strange that we put things in to take it out. And for most of human history, we’ve had some balance in this system.
- And when you don’t eat, then insulin goes down. And this is a very normal process. Put in, we take out nothing could be more natural.
What is fasting?
- It is the period when you don’t eat. So assuming that you sleep at all, most people would get several hours of fasting, and if you have your late-night snack and eat first thing in the morning, you probably still yet somewhere around eight hours or in the neighbourhood of that.
- And if you don’t have that late-night snack, but you eat your dinner at seven, then you get 12 hours if you have spread a little earlier, you have 14 hours, and this is how humans have created balance by having 12 to 14 hours for most of human history, and that’s how a lot of these problems are avoided.
Reverse the process
Then what many people find when they need to reverse the process is that there’s not much need to eat breakfast, so if you skip that and have your first meal at noon and dinner at eight, you have 16 hours if you have spread a little earlier you have 18 hours.
Hence, it’s not that strange, and what most people find is that this is not even just easy, but it’s so easy that they don’t understand why they would ever not do it or why they would start having three meals or snacks or anything like that.
Fat-storing versus fat burning
- So let’s talk about fat-storing versus fat burning and how we get back to balance there because if you look at the obesity epidemic, it’s obvious we’ve spent a lot more time in fat-storing than we have in fat burning, so the red above the line here is fat storing, and the green below is fat-burning, so if you go to bed on a full stomach then you’re going to have to process that food is going to be put into storage.
- Hence, most of the time you sleep, you are still in fat-storing, then you get a few hours before waking up where you have some fat burning but then as soon as you wake up, you eat your breakfast and your mid-morning snack and your lunch and so on and for most of the day again you’re in fat storing. You’re putting stuff in the pantry.
You’re taking nothing out, so throughout the day, you might have a few minutes where you do some fat-burning, but most people won’t even get to that point, especially not if they’re eating high carb and high sugar.
Now, suppose you dropped to two meals a day and skipped breakfast. In that case, it might look something like this the first part of sleep is probably still some fat storing but then instead of just eating as soon as you get up now, you get all those extra hours of fat burning in the morning, and because you’re not eating so many meals throughout the day you get some fat burning in during the day as well so you have more of a balance between fat storing and fat burning you’re allowing your body to clean out the pantry you put energy in to use, so now you’re using it instead of just adding more and more and more.
How has this been working historically?
- So these guys lived a long, long time ago, Paleolithic Age hunter-gatherers, and we don’t know exactly how often they ate. Still, we know they didn’t have probably extensive pantries or freezers, or refrigerators. They were very limited in how much food they could store. So on a bad day, they probably didn’t eat.
- If they couldn’t find food every day, they probably went some time without, and on a good day, they probably had one or two or maybe three meals. And then humans developed some organization, some civilization, agriculture, societies.
- So from recorded history until 1970, we probably ate two to three times. Not everyone had the luxury of eating three meals, but very few people would eat ever over three meals.
- But then, in the last forty years, we’ve changed that. We’ve got the idea that the three meals are not enough, that we need to add snacks. Every two hours we need to put some extra fuel.
- We need to top it off, and many people walk around with a sippy cup. They have their soda, sweet tea, or some other drink.
- We’re used to having always having something to eat or drink, and then, of course, we have the development of all these fancy coffee shops we’re in; almost every beverage sold in there is a disguised sugar bomb.
- And what’s attractive in the last 40 years to the period before that is the two things that happened.
- We started eating more frequently, and we started eating more sugar and more processed foods, and then we wondered why the rate of obesity and diabetes shot up like a straight line or even exponentially.
- So while some people think that the idea of fasting is strange, what’s odd is what we’ve done in the last 40 years because now we’ve got the thought never to empty the pantry.
- Eating food is like loading up your body’s pantry, and putting things in is a good thing, but take nothing out. We’ve gotten these ideas that breakfast is the most important meal, and while the word breakfast means to break your fast, it means that you eat something as soon as possible after you get up.
- And then we tell the kids that they need energy before lunch. I have to have breakfast; otherwise, you can’t perform, you won’t learn anything, so make sure that you eat breakfast and of course.
- As a result, we have these horrible “Frankenfoods” of chemicals and sugar and nothing beneficial for the body. And what’s strange is this whole idea that we would need to eat every 2 to 3 hours.
- There would be some health benefit that we would be better off doing or that it would be dangerous not to eat every 2 to 3 hours. But what about sleeping?
- Do you have to set the alarm so you can get up in the middle of the night and eat something? Can you imagine the headlines? Mass deaths last night during the power out.
- Millions of people didn’t wake up to their feeding alarm, and they starved to death in the middle of the night.
- No, never happened. Because we don’t need to eat every 2 hours, there is no health benefit; there’s tremendous health detriment to eating every 2 to 3 hours. Let’s break it down and understand just how simple this is.
what if you do an extended fast?
Well, you keep burning fat for the duration that you don’t eat. This seems simple, but it’s powerful that the more time you go without eating, the more fat gets burned. And as an additional benefit, of course, the longer you go without food, the longer you allow your insulin to drop, so it’s not just about the weight.
Still, it’s also about the health benefits, about reversing type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. The longer you go, the more significant the effect.
Then how long do you go?
- Well, that depends on your goal and your situation and your DNA and so forth, but if your goal is weight loss, it will depend on how stubborn your weight is. Have you reached a plateau, or do you want it to happen faster?
- And the same thing holds for insulin resistance because it’s the exact mechanism of this weight is put there in the first place by insulin, and if you have stubborn weight, you have stubborn insulin; other reasons to do fasting can be a degenerative disease if you want to reverse it that.
- If you have met your goals, but you want to do some prevention or if you want more longevity, or if you want to increase your health span.
- So much of the time, we talked about living longer, but what’s the point of living to 90 if the last 40 years are riddled with disease and suffering? What if you could live to ninety or a hundred and a hundred and twenty and be healthy and enjoy that virtually all of that time?
- Let’s go over some examples for weight loss, and the vast majority of people, somewhere 60 70 80 per cent, will get good results if they shrink their feeding window down to six or eight hours which means their fasting window gets to be 16 to 18 hours.
- Most people will get pretty excellent results, and if you’re one of those people, then do that and be consistent, and you’ll develop a perfect lifestyle that works for you. Still, if that doesn’t work for you, if you have stubborn weight, if you hit a plateau, if you need to happen faster, then you have got to do more. It’s as simple as that.
- So now the next step is one meal a day, which means you eat once a day, or if you go further than that, we’re talking maybe 42 or 48 hours. It’s not as hard as people make it out to be because if you start with 16:8 or 18:6, and your body gets used to it, this’s not that difficult to have dinner one day and then to skip the whole next day make it till bedtime the next day go to bed, and when you wake up, you’ve fasted 36 hours.
- The beauty of this is that the fasting period includes two nights, so you’ve slept twice in that period.
- And if you’re used to not having breakfast, you go another 6 hours to lunch, and you have 42 hours. You can now have the evening meal if you want to, and you have forty-eight hours.
- It’s not as hard as it sounds, and the fasting that lasts over 24 hours that’s not something most people have to do all the time; if you do once in a while, that’s going to break up that plateau, it’s going to break up that stubborn pattern, and it’s going to make things happen faster for the vast majority of people.
- But another interesting thing that peoples is once they get past that 42 up to 48-hour mark, they find that the worst has passed that they’re not as hungry as they used to be the getting in the groove; they’re getting the flow of things their minds are brightening and their periods of hunger are less and shorter, so it’s not as complicated as people think to go from that 48 hours and just do one more night and now you’re at three days.
- Then you can go as long as you feel good. As long as you’re comfortable.
Tips best too fast to lose weight
As long as you have some energy. Don’t run marathons or anything silly like that, but just for daily life, people find they can usually extend it a few extra days, so maybe go 3 to 7 days, and if you hit a point where you feel hey I’ve had enough, then you eat something.
The only thing to make sure of is to drink plenty of fluids and take some salt and minerals because you will lose a little extra of that. And if your goal is to reverse insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, then the same reasoning holds because if you have stubborn weight, you have stubborn insulin, so the mechanism is the same.
But there are even more reasons to fast, such as degenerative disease, because the longer you go with fasting, the more autophagy you get. And autophagy means “self-eating” you’re fasting; your body gets energy from the fat.
You’re burning fat. The longer you go, the more fat you burn, but the most precious resource beyond a point is protein because protein is for building blocks and enzymes and hormones.
Your body constantly has cells that wear out, so your body has to make new ones, and if you’re not eating protein, the body has to find it somewhere. So protein becomes precious, and where can you find protein in the body wall muscles is the obvious choice, but the body doesn’t want to spend power.
It needs those to do the work. So it up-regulates the cleaning crew, the recycling crew. It puts more people on cleaning duty, and that goes out and cleans every nook and cranny in the body looking for debris and waste materials and dead cells and virus and bacteria.
So you’re up-regulating not just the cleaning crew but your immune system, and you can take care of sagging skin and many dead cells and waste that the body doesn’t need. It gets better at finding those things.
As a result, now we have effects with arthritis and diabetes and blood pressure and even think like autoimmunity—something like multiple sclerosis.
Brain and nervous system and fasting
- The brain and nervous system have a very poor cleanup and repair. And autophagy is the only thing that will improve the ability to repair the brain and the nervous system.
- That is also powerful after a traumatic brain injury. If you get a concussion, the first thing you want to do is to stop eating because that autophagy will help clean up the damage.
- There’s even evidence that periods of fasting and autophagy can help reduce and even reverse cancer, at least certain kinds.
- There are so many benefits to fasting that it’s a great idea to do it even just for maintenance, so now we’re doing it for prevention for longevity, etcetera, as we talked about.
What do you eat on One Meal a Day (OMAD)?
And now I would suggest that you do a combination of 16: to OMAD. Somewhere in that range. You eat once a day, twice a day, three times a day. Suppose you lose a lot of weight too. If you don’t want to lose weight, do little of the OMAD.
You do more of the 16:8. If you put on weight, if you have stubborn weight, then you do more of the OMAD and less of the 16:8. I have a hard time keeping weight on if I do OMAD; if I do one meal a day, for any length of time, I keep losing weight because it’s hard to eat that much food in one sitting.
I don’t feel bad, but I get thinner than I want to be. And if you get 16 to 24 hours of fasting, you’re going to get a fair amount of autophagy, but you will not get massive amounts of autophagy.
So that’s why I suggest you do a 42 hour fast once or twice a month depending on how you feel how much weight whatever your goals are like we talked about what feels suitable for you, and like I said, you skip a whole day.
Then you skip breakfast the next day, and you’re at 42 hours, and now when you went 42 hours instead of 16, you have increased your autophagy.
But then I also believe that there are benefits to going a little longer once in a while.
I think now you can get into deep, deep autophagy levels where you might prevent cancer or reverse the early stages of cancer; some research show that might be the case and about every three months, perhaps two to four times a year, maybe once a year.
You do a little longer fast and I would suggest going in at least three days. I would go 3 to 4 days for myself and if you feel good. You want to go longer, then that’s fine too.