How Long Should You Fast For? - Tiger Medical Institute

How Long Should You Fast For?

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“The Best of all Medicines is Resting and Fasting.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

Fasting for the Body (And The Soul?)

Fasting has a long history of use in a religious or spiritual context. Its benefits have long been debated, but the practice has gained popularity recently.

Fasting has gained popularity for health reasons, particularly in the Western world. A growing trend in Silicon Valley and among ‘biohackers’ and health nuts, it often has more concrete rather than spiritual motivations currently (although its practice is nothing new).

Different kinds of fasts, including more extended ones, have various applications and safety profiles.

To address the most popular form of fasting, however, we’ll focus on Intermittent fasting (otherwise known as Time Restricted Eating (TRE)), and whether it’s right for you and what the right length of time is for you based on a few key factors.

Is Fasting Another Trend or Here to Stay?

Although fasting is certainly not for everyone, and it would be advisable to consult your healthcare provider (and listen to your body!), there’s ample evidence for the benefits of fasting.

Starting with avoiding food 3 hours before bed can do wonders to improve sleep.

A fast of 12-16 hours can offer benefits in countless conditions, including but not limited to the following:

Science is also showing that intermittent fasting can help with longevity and healthspan.

Many individuals also report subjective benefits such as better sleep, motivation, and mental clarity.

With all this being said, individual variations can be a massive factor in response to Time Restricted Eating (TRE), and not everyone should go for an extended fasting window.

Typical Intermittent fasts are for a 12-16 hour window with an early dinner and breaking the fast with a late breakfast or lunch.

Some people extend their fasting window to 18+ hours, although the drawbacks may outweigh the benefits for many.

An example of a typical length would be not eating after 6 pm and eating a late breakfast around 10 or 11 a.m.

When it comes to Intermittent fasting or Time Restricted Eating, below are a few of the main factors you want to consider regarding your length of fast.

Leading Factors in Determining the Length of a Fast

1. Current Stress Levels

Fasting, just like exercise and sauna therapy, can be a stressor on the body.

For those under acute physical or mental stress, such as an imminent deadline or enormous daily demands, starting intermittent fasting or minimizing your eating window might not be for you (at least in the short term).

When under particular stress or illness or experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression, eating breakfast with protein and fats near the start of your day is generally advised.

2. Current Diet and Blood Sugar Regulation

If you’re consuming refined grains and added sugars in your diet, and your blood sugar is out of whack, starting with a 16-hour fast might be too much.

Although fasting can improve your overall metabolic health and reduce blood sugar markers, you don’t want to start with an extended fast.

Adding protein to your diet, reducing sugar and refined carbohydrates, and starting with a 12-hour fasting window is a safer bet in experiencing some benefits without drawbacks like added stress, light-headedness, or mood swings.

3. Hormone Status/Sex

Generally, men tend to do better with intermittent fasting than women and are more likely to benefit from longer fasts, such as a 16-hour window.

For women, particularly those who are menstruating or looking to optimize fertility, extended fasts beyond 12-14 hours are not recommended.

4. Weight

Weight is another consideration in the length of the fast.

Those underweight or with a BMI below 18.5 may not experience the full benefits of regular Time Restricted Eating, as energy reserves are typically already low.

5. Health Goals

Health Goals are another thing to consider regarding the length of a fast.

For Time Restricted Eating, if one has a more significant weight loss goal, consider a 16-hour fast.

For cognitive decline or early Alzheimer’s, a longer fast may also be recommended to improve therapeutic outcomes.

Regarding intermittent fasting, it’s always best to consult your healthcare provider to ensure your eating regimen is safe and appropriate for your unique physiology.

Next Steps to Optimize Your Nutrition and Fasting Window

Now that we have reviewed some suggestions on how long you should fast for, it is time to take the next steps toward optimizing your nutrition and fasting window.

You have what it takes inside you to make a definite choice that will change the future trajectory of your health.

Our team at Tiger Medical has the experience, clinical skills, and coaching acumen to help you dial in your nutrition and lifestyle and get your health and energy back.

To talk to one of our professionals, click here to schedule your call!

For further reading, view the following articles on our learning center:

Dr. Adilia Kreps

Dr. Adilia Kreps

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