I find that most women, particularly after 40, will benefit from longer and less frequent fasts to restore their hormonal balance and achieve optimal health. In this post, you are going to learn about what happens during a 24-hour fast and how to make use of it to reach your health goals.
What Happens During a 24-Hour Fast
The optimal healing fasting window is 3 days (at 72 hours, you reset your immune system). Why? Because it takes at least 2-3 days for your body to clean out old immune cells and replace them with new ones. However, if you are anything like me, you may find the idea of not eating at all for 3 days a bit overwhelming. Fortunately, a 24-hour fast can also accomplish a lot for your body and it is perfectly doable.
Benefits of a 24-Hour Fast
Here are some of the benefits you may get from a 24-hour fast:
- Weight loss
- Human Growth Hormone secretion
- Improved insulin sensitivity
- Cardiovascular Health
- Improved brain function
- Intestinal cell regeneration
- Metabolic flexibility
For more information about these benefits, read Top 8 Most Compelling Benefits of a 24-Hour Fast. The bottom line is that after about 12 hours, your body runs out of glucose and begins to use stored fat for energy. Fasting long enough to encourage the energy switchover on a regular basis is key to your success.
How Does a 24-Hour Fast Compare to Other Intermittent Fasting Methods?
When it comes to fast loss, Alternate Day Fasting yields to most results according to the study Effects of intermittent fasting on body composition and clinical health markers in humans. The issue with Alternate Day Fasting is that it created the highest sustained calorie deficit, which means that over a long period of time, your body will get used to it. If you use this method to lose weight, you will regain the weight back and more if you go back to your normal eating style. Of course, if you lose weight using intermittent fasting, you will need to keep intermittent fasting to not regain the weight back no matter what method you pick. The issue with Alternate Day Fasting is that it will be very difficult to maintain long term.
On the other hand, 24-hour fasts, or Whole Day Fasts as they call them in the Study, were up next for the best results. Maintaining only one or two 24-hour days fast weekly is very sustainable long term. Whenever you pick your intermittent fasting method, you always should take into consideration whether you will want to keep it up long term.
Ketosis Without the Keto Diet
After fasting for about 18 hours, most women will notice that their energy level is high and their hunger doesn’t seem to bother them. They don’t feel “hangry.” When this happens to you, you have achieved an optimal level of ketosis without counting macros and while eating all the foods you enjoy most. If you track your ketones with a ketone monitor, you will likely notice the switch in how you feel when your ketones are at around 1 mmol/L.
I used the Keto Mojo to measure my ketones. Get a 15 percent discount with my affiliate link.
How to Know If a 24-Hour Fast Is Right for You
Many women start with a daily 16-hour fast. There is nothing wrong with it if you are getting the results you want. the issue for some of us is that 16 hours is not long enough to maintain ketosis for any length of time. It will greatly limit how good you feel. For example, since I was no longer trying to lose weight, I slowly gravitated toward a 16-hour fasting window. I found that the quality of my sleep started to suffer as a consequence. Then, I started doing only one 24-hour fast a week. and suddenly, I was sleeping well again!
General guidelines: if it works, don’t change it! If you are not feeling amazing, experiment and find your optimal fasting window.
How to Do a 24-Hour Fast
The frequency of your 24-hour fast will depend on whether you want to lose weight and whether you are doing any other types of fasting. The beverages you will allow yourself to consume during your fast will also vary slightly depending on your goals.
How Often to do a 24-Hour Fast
How often should you do a 24-hour fast? It depends. Are you intermittent fasting on the other days? Do you want to lose weight? If you want to lose weight and are not intermittent fasting the other days (by that I mean your eating window is about 12 hours or more on the other days), 2-3 times a week would be a good goal.
When I started experimenting with intermittent fasting, fasting for 24 hours felt more difficult than it is now. I would do a 24-fast only once or twice a week and would not lose weight. That’s why I gradually evolved towards the warrior diet (a 20-hour fast 5 days a week). That allowed me to lose weight and not feel like I was torturing myself on my fasting days. Now, I don’t need to lose more weight and I have more fasting practice. I enjoy fasting for 24 hours once a week because of the incredible health benefits.
If you would like to know more about how to use fasting to reach your health goals, check out my Intermittent Fasting 101 Workshop:
Allowed Liquids During Your 24-Hour Fast
Now, we can’t discuss fasting without discussing the difference between “clean” and “dirty” fasting. Technically, the moment you consume calories, you break your fast. However, some types of calories may support your fasting goals.
If you want to stick to clean fasting, here’s what you can consume:
- Black coffee (only 2 calories in a cup): Coffee may even induce autophagy!
- Green, oolong, and black tea (2 calories in a cup): Contain calorie restriction mimetics, which induce autophagy.
- Most herbal teas: Make sure they don’t contain additives and fruit.
- Apple cider vinegar (3 calories in 1 Tbsp)
- Stevia: May lower blood sugar and improve metabolic health.
- Carbonated water: Flavored is fine, make sure there are no other additives.
- Lemon juice
On the other hand, if you are “dirty fasting” you can consume fats in your teas and coffees such as cream, coconut milk, butter, coconut oil, and MCT oil. These will not interfere with achieving ketosis. For more information, read How Dirty Fasting Can Help or Hinder Your Weight Loss Progress.
How to Break a 24-Hour Fast
How to break a fast is a question that many newbies ask. All health experts who specialize in intermittent fasting have this in common: their content about how to break a fast is most popular. Fortunately, you need to know this: unless you find for 3 days or more, how you break your fast is actually not a big deal. You don’t need to obsess over what to eat when you break and over questions like these:
- What should I put in my salad when I break my fast?
- If I break my fast with coconut oil, how long after that can I eat?
- Can I break my fast with scrambled eggs and bread?
- Are almonds a good way to break my fast?
- What about oatmeal with agave with almond milk and an egg with veggies? Is that ok???
- Bananas aren’t full of fructose?
- Can I break my fasting with egg whites?
Eat what you want, as long as it’s wholesome and doesn’t give you stomach aches. As always, listening to your body is key.
24-Hour Fast Video
After gaining enough intermittent fasting practice to become metabolically flexible, regular 24-hour fasts are one of the best tools to reach your weight loss goals and maintain your overall health. They are long enough to benefit from some deeper healing and ketosis, while not too long to feel overwhelming. Give it a try!