Extended Fasting is considered to be generally safe for most people. There are just a few simple common-sense guidelines to follow.
One of those is knowing when to stop.
How Do I Decide How Long to Fast?
Consider the following questions:
Have you fasted before?
If this is your first time fasting, you might want to start on the lower end of the spectrum. Try 3 to 5 days and see how you do.
If you’re a seasoned faster, how long do you normally go?
Consider extending your next fast a little longer next time. Stretch those fasting muscles!
What do you want to accomplish with your Extended Fast?
Are you aiming for weight loss or are you fasting for health reasons?
If your goal is weight loss, how much weight do you want to lose? The standard fat loss with fasting is around half a pound a day, once you’re into fat burning mode.
Some people choose to fast until they reach their weight loss goal. Some will need to break that into more than one Extended Fast, with refeeds in between.
How much fat do you have to burn?
The more body fat you have, the longer you could go. If your body fat is on the lower end, you would want to stick to shorter fasts.
Try an open-ended fast
If you are still not sure, try an open-ended fast.
This means that you just start the fasting clock and go, with no specific number of days in mind.
One advantage to this is it takes some of the pressure off. No matter how long you end up going, it’s a win! The disadvantage is that you don’t have that end goal to aim for, which could be demotivating.
Is Medical Supervision Required During Long-Term Fasting?
Extended Fasting is considered to be generally safe for most healthy people.
However, it’s a good idea to have your doctor on board to monitor for any complications that could arise. This is a must if you have medical conditions or are on any medications.
And obviously, the longer you plan on going the more important it would be to have that medical supervision.
The best practice is to check in with your doctor, let them know you are planning to do an Extended Fast, and ask if there’s anything you should be concerned about.
If your doctor is not supportive of fasting, consider looking for a reputable doctor in your area that supports fasting.
What Warning Signs Should I Watch For to Stop the Fast Early?
So you decided how long you wanted your Extended Fast to be, you set your goal, and you’re doing it! Awesome, you got this!
That being said, there are some warning signs you should watch out for. These symptoms would indicate you should break your fast, even if it’s earlier than what you had planned on:
- Nausea that does not go away, despite water and electrolytes being on point
- Any kind of unusual changes in your heart rate (heart beating mush faster, much slower or irregularly
- Weakness that comes on suddenly
- A persisting feeling that something is off – always listen to your body and honor any feeling that something is wrong
- The return of true hunger
There is no shame in stopping early! Any fasting is good fasting.
Any amount of days that you spend not eating food around the clock is a win! Celebrate that, do a good refeed, and go again!
What is True Hunger?
True hunger is very different from the hunger that most of us experience. It is not that gnawing feeling in the tummy, nor is it those irritating tummy growls. It is not a craving.
True hunger is felt in the mouth and the throat. It comes after many days of not having any hunger at all.
There might also be an intuitive “knowing” that it is time for food.
Is there an amount of days that would be considered too long for an Extended Fast?
Too long is subjective, because it really depends on you, how much body fat you have, and your current metabolic health.
Many fasters go as long as 30 days or more. But again, that’s a very individual thing. What might be fine for one person could be too long for another.
Extended Fasting is not a competition! Never feel that you have to try and go as long as someone else did.
Extended Fasting is an amazing journey. But it’s your journey, and knowing when to stop is something that only you can decide.