Intermittent fasting has become extremely popular over the past few years, yet there is still little guidance available for those interested in trying out intermittent fasting. Let me begin by saying intermittent fasting is not a diet, but rather a way of eating. That way of eating or (intermittent fasting) should actually be termed “timed restricted eating.” Timed restricted eating dates back to our ancestors, because they were forced to “fast” during food scarcities in-between hunts.
I started intermittent fasting several years ago (around 2015) after reading research articles about it while receiving my bachelor’s degree in Biological Health Sciences. At that time I was experimenting with many different intermittent fasting protocols such as the 16:8, 20:4, and the full day 24 hour fast.
Even though I was following a strict 16:8 or 20:4 intermittent fasting protocol, back then I was unsure if I needed to do this every single day or just a few days out of the week to receive the benefits of fasting. In this article, I will mostly be discussing the 16:8 intermittent fasting protocol.
So should I do intermittent fasting daily?
The answer depends on your routine and schedule. For some people who work Monday-Friday and then have the weekends off, they may prefer to only intermittent fast during the weekdays so they can enjoy their weekend. There is nothing wrong with fasting only 4-5 days out of the week. The problem many people run into during the weekend is that they stay up much later compared to the weekdays, so in order to fast like normal they would have to push their first meal back super late in the day.
For example, say that Monday-Friday you usually stop eating at 8pm (sleep around 10pm) and eat at noon the next day (16hr fast), but then on the weekend you stay up late (eat/drink until midnight). That means the following day you wouldn’t be able to eat until 4pm, which makes it much harder for those who enjoy staying out late during the weekends to continue their normal weekday intermittent fasting routine.
So rather than stress and worry about it, you can simply not practice intermittent fasting on Saturday and/or Sunday, and then continue your normal intermittent fasting routine on Monday.
So should you intermittent fast daily?
If you are following a 16:8 fasting protocol I recommend trying to at least commit to 5/6 days out of the week. Intermittent fasting is more of a lifestyle, so if you are constantly skipping days or not staying consistent then your body will not fully adapt. Because the nice thing about being consistent on the 16:8 intermittent fasting protocol is that you body gets used to it very quickly. So you are no longer hungry during your fast and it becomes quite effortless to fast, but if you are missing days and not staying consistent then it may be more challenging for you to stay committed during your fast.
Is it bad that I skip/miss a day of intermittent fasting?
I get asked this often, because people are concerned that they are going to lose their progress/results if they skip a fast or break their fast early. Not following your normal 16:8 intermittent fasting protocol for one day will not hurt your progress or hinder any of the intermittent fasting benefits. Most intermittent fasting protocols such as the alternate day fasting, eat-stop-eat, and 24 hour fast consist of days where you are not fasting.
The nice thing about intermittent fasting is the flexibility!
Like I said before it is a natural way of eating that dates back to our ancestral days. Do you think our ancestors sat around and thought about how many days of the week they have fasted thus far? No. They went with the flow and ate when they could. So that is how our bodies are designed and we thrive off this way of eating.
So in other words, breaking a fast early or skipping a day of fasting will not hinder your results. Simply hop back on schedule the next day.
Is fasting every day healthy?
I often hear from people that they prefer not to fast every day because they’ve “heard” that it isn’t healthy to do daily. Let me start by saying the current scientific research completely disagrees. Daily fasting has been linked to numerous health benefits.
Health Benefits of Fasting Daily:
- Lower the risk for neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease
- Promotes autophagy (destroys damaged cells)
- Improves memory
- Lower cholesterol
- Strengthens cellular Mitochondria
- Reduces insulin resistance
The health benefits of intermittent fasting goes on and on. Besides just the benefits listed above, many people will see a reduction in body fat, while still maintaining lean muscle mass while doing intermittent fasting. Currently, there is no negative or harmful associations between your health and intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting is healthy to do every day!
TheMuscleMaster’s Final Say:
There is a lot of conflicting data out there about intermittent fasting, and how to do it properly. I recommend doing your own research, and trying out different protocols to determine what is best for you. Intermittent fasting is not for everyone. I’ve had numerous colleagues try intermittent fasting, but then quit doing it 2-3 weeks later. It can be extremely challenging for those who are used to snacking often throughout the day.
I recommend starting slowly. Maybe try fasting 1-2 days a week at first, and then slowly start building up to 5-6 days a week. Or you could first try fasting 13-14 hours a day, and they start building your way up to 16-18 hours a day.
Remember it is okay to not fast every single day, and it is okay if you skip a day or break your fast early, it is not the end of the world. Try to stay on track, and stay CONSISTENT. One of the main reasons people quit intermittent fasting is because they do not stay consistent, and their body never gets a chance to adjust and get used to it.
*Medical Disclaimer: Before beginning intermittent fasting consult with your physician to see if it is right for you.