This week my husband and I decided to try a 36 hour (I actually went 37.5 hours) fast which is considered an extended fast. I am a regular intermittent faster I do the 8:16 method which means I fast for 16 hours a day and eat during my 8 -hour window. I also on occasion will do a 24 hour fast. I know most people think of weight loss when they think of fasting but there are so many health benefits for your body when you allow your body to naturally detox.
A 36-hour fast can eliminate or help the body eliminate waste products that are deep in the tissues. Fasting for this amount of time encourages the body to activate its metabolic switch and shift its energy source from glucose to ketones. This means the mitochondria are able to produce energy more efficiently and effectively. Also at the same time, they produce less metabolic waste and encourage the body’s natural waste removal process of autophagy to take place.
Let’s first talk about some benefits of a 36 hour fast then I will tell you how I felt!
Reduced inflammation: Fasting has been associated with a reduction in inflammatory markers in the body, which may be beneficial for overall health and the management of chronic inflammatory conditions. This is huge because when you reduce inflammation you also reduce risk of viruses and diseases.
Improved insulin sensitivity: Fasting can enhance insulin sensitivity, making it easier for your body to regulate blood sugar levels. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes.
Autophagy: Autophagy is a natural cellular process that involves the removal of damaged cells and cellular components. Fasting can stimulate autophagy, which may help your body repair and rejuvenate cells.
Gut health: Fasting can provide your digestive system with a break, allowing it to rest and potentially promoting better gut health. This break can also help with conditions like bloating, indigestion, and heartburn.
Mental clarity and focus: I know this seems like the opposite would have but fasting can increase mental clarity and concentration. This might be due to a shift in energy metabolism or reduced inflammation in the brain.
Hormone regulation: Fasting can influence the secretion of various hormones, including growth hormone, which may play a role in muscle preservation and fat burning.
Fat loss without muscle loss: Fasting for 36 hours, when done correctly, can primarily target fat stores for energy while preserving muscle mass. This can be more effective for fat loss compared to shorter-term fasting.
Improved cardiovascular health: Some research suggests that fasting may have a positive impact on cardiovascular health by reducing risk factors such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and triglycerides.
So now that you know all the benefits of a an extended fast, I will tell you how my 36 hours went.
We started our fast at 7:00pm on Halloween night so that meant we couldn’t eat until 7:00am on Thursday morning. We could drink water, coffee, and tea as long as there are no calories, so no sugar and milk in the coffee!
Throughout the day I kept my self-busy decorating for Christmas, I did my morning workout and take my dog for our normal 45 mins walk. I was afraid to do too much because I didn’t want to be starving all day. Around 3:00pm on Wednesday, so about 20 hours in, I started getting a headache, I realized I had not been drinking my normal amount of water, so I make it a point to drink water the rest of the day. By the 24 hour mark I was hungry, which is the longest fast I have ever done, my body was ready for food but by that time it was 7 pm and I knew I would be asleep in a few hours to my fast would be over soon after I woke up. I decided to take a bath, read, and drink some tea. I was in bed by 9:30. When I woke up at 5:00am I actually was not hungry at all. I did my work out and got ready for the day.
I feel like I could have gone longer but we were getting on a plane to go cheer on my brother who is running, and IronMan and I didn’t want to feel sick on a plane and not have healthy food to eat to break my fast. I broke my fast with a hard-boiled egg, almonds, and cheese.
All and all I felt really good after the fast and will probably shoot for a 48 hour fast in the next month. My goal is to get to 72 hours, but I want to be smart about it and do it in increments.
If you want to try an extended fast, I would start with 24 hours and then work your way up to 36, 48, or 72. Here are a few things to plan:
Plan your window, when will you start and stop fasting.
Eat healthy all day before your fast and get plenty of water.
Drink lots of water throughout the day. You can also have tea and coffee if you are not adding sugar and cream (no calories can be added)
Make sure you break your fast with healthy food, don’t go to McDonalds and get an Egg McMuffin, eat high quality foods, protein, fats, fruits, and veggies.
Please remember that fasting has many benefits, although it may not be suitable for everyone. I am not a healthcare professional so make sure to consult with your healthcare provider, especially if you have underlying health conditions.