Fasting for 24-hours once or twice a week: how to do it, benefits, potential risks, and what to expect
One of the intermittent fasting methods is the eating pattern named Eat Stop Eat diet. This diet is one of the most popular intermittent fasting methods today. While each method has its own share of benefits and risks, the Eat Stop Eat approach appears to be easier to follow.
Here in this article, we will present everything you need to know about the Eat Stop Eat diet, including how it works, is it effective for weight loss, and the possible benefits and side effects of start following this way of eating.
What is Eat Stop Eat diet?
Eat Stop Eat diet is an intermittent fasting method where you fast once or twice a week aiming for a complete break from food for 24 hours at a time. You can eat normally during the non-fasting days, but you have to refrain from any solid food or calorie-containing drink during the fasting days.
According to the creator of this unique approach to intermittent fasting Brad Pilon, fasting 24 hours once or twice a week is one of the most effective ways to lose extra pounds. By avoiding food for 24 hours you will create a calorie deficit which over time can help you lose weight.
You need to know that one pound of fat is made of about 3,500 extra calories. Therefore to lose one pound of fat you need to create a caloric deficit of 3,500 calories.
Example: If you normally consume 2,000 calories per day, following Eat Stop Eat diet for two days a week results in a calorie deficit of ( 2 x 2,000 ) = 4,000 calories per week. So you will likely lose more than one pound by following the Eat Stop Eat for two days a week.
Pilon wrote his book “Eat Stop Eat” after researching the effects of short-term fasting on metabolic health at the University of Guelph in Canada.
According to the author, Eat Stop Eat isn’t just a typical weight loss diet, it’s also a way to reevaluate what you have previously taught about meal timing and frequency and how that relates to your health.
Eat Stop Eat is an intermittent fasting method in which you abstain from eating for 24 hours once or twice a week, and you eat freely for the remaining 5 or 6 days a week.
How does Eat Stop Eat work?
To begin with the Eat Stop Eat diet you simply choose one or two non-consecutive days per week during which you abstain from eating for a full 24-hour period. For the remaining 5 or 6 days, you can eat freely.
For example, if your last meal is on Monday at 9 a.m. you don’t eat until Tuesday at 9 a.m. Your next meal will occur after 9 a.m. on Tuesday, and this way you ensure that you are fasting for a full 24-hours, but no longer.
As you can see from this you will still be eating something on each calendar day of the week when using the Eat Stop Eat method.
Remember that proper hydration is very important on fasting days. Drinking plenty of water is the best choice, but you can also drink unsweetened coffee or tea.
The science behind Eat Stop Eat
The core of this intermittent fasting method is following the natural cycle of limited food intake and maintaining fewer calories. When you’re fasting your body is empty and to get the energy needed for proper body function it goes for its fat reserves.
If you continue to fast for too long your body will start pulling energy from your muscles, and you definitely don’t want that. This period of 24 hours of fasting is long enough to burn fat, but not so long that your body will start going for energy from your muscles.
The result of this is that you can lose weight quickly without following any special diets, workout plans, or taking supplements.
If we transform this in numbers: If you normally eat 2,000 calories daily, 7 days a week is 14,000 calories per week. If you follow the Eat Stop Eat diet you will fast 2 days a week, this is 4,000 calories less than your average weekly intake. 14,000 calories – 4,000 calories = 10,000 calories.
When we divide 10,000 by 7 days of the week we get an average of 1,429 calories per day. This result shows that you will consume fewer calories per week than if you restricted yourself to 1,500 calories per day, as many diets for weight loss recommend.
How your Eat Stop Eat program should look:
- Pick one or two days a week when you will abstain from eating for 24 hours
- Choose the time you want to start your fast s long as you stick to the 24-hour fasting period
- When its time to break your fast choose a normal-sized meal, not a meal that is too much for you
Foods to eat when you’re on a 24-hour fast
On your fasting days don’t eat or drink anything with calories. You should drink plenty of water to stay hydrated plus other no-calorie beverages like sparkling water, unsweetened tea, or coffee.
On your regular days ( non-fasting ) Brad recommends eating a lot of fruits, vegetables, some carbs, and plenty of protein. The author of this diet suggests eating 100 grams of protein daily, that is 20-30 grams every 4 to 5 hours.
Keep in mind that moderation is the key, when you break your fast you don’t want to undo the progress of your fasting days. A good target is 2,500 calories for men, and 2,000 calories for women daily.
If you notice that you gain back weight during your non-fasting days you are probably eating too much. You can easily solve this problem by just reducing your food intake on those days by 10%.
Benefits of the Eat Stop Eat Diet
Many people start following the Eat Stop Eat diet because this eating pattern gives great weight loss results. But it’s not just weight loss there are other things why Eat Stop Eat is good for you!
One of the main benefits of Eat Stop Eat is that you don’t need to starve yourself every day. During the fasting days one or two ( your choice) you will have to fast for 24 hours but as we mentioned before you will still be eating every day. You can eat whatever you want during the non-fasting 5 or 6 days.
This is 24-hour fasting method is so flexible, so you don’t need to choose what foods you’ll eat during your eating days. This flexibility allows you to enjoy your breakfast or dinner with your loved ones and still be on a diet that helps you to lose weight.
People who follow this 24-hour fasting method claim that they are very productive during the fasting days. Since you don’t have to stop eating, and you want to stay focused on other things besides food, you can actually get quite a bit done on these days.
Eat Stop Eat as we noted before is a method of intermittent fasting and you can expect other benefits linked to intermittent fasting like better heart health, lower risk of type 2 diabetes, reduced inflammation, etc.
To learn more about the benefits of fasting for 24 hours here is this evidence-based article: Benefits Of Fasting For 24 Hours And Tips For A Successful Fast that will help you if you are a beginner with fasting.
Potential side effects of fasting 24-hours once or twice a week
If you’re thinking of trying this eating pattern you should consider the potential downsides of going without food for 24-hours.
Insufficient nutrient intake
You should not think of food in terms of calories, food is much more than calories. It’s an important source of vitamins, minerals, and other compounds that your body needs to function properly.
Certain people may have a difficult time meeting all of their nutrition needs on the Eat Stop Eat diet. It’s important if you start following this diet to pay attention to the foods you eat on your non-fasting days to ensure adequate fiber, protein, vitamin, and mineral intake throughout your diet.
Low blood sugar
Intermittent fasting diets like this one are good to improve blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity. Most healthy people have no difficulty maintaining blood sugar levels during the 24-hour fasting periods required on Eat Stop Eat.
For some people, this may not be the case, such as people with diabetes. An extended period without food may contribute to dangerous blood sugar drops that could be life-threatening.
So, if you have any medical condition or taking blood sugar medications consult your doctor before attempting Eat Stop Eat or any other method of intermittent fasting.
Increased risk of constipation
Fasting for 24 hours could increase your risk of constipation. You need 25-38 grams of fiber daily to stay regular. So fill your plate with beans, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and fruits during your eating window to stay regular.
Higher risk of dehydration If you’re very active and you’re on a 24 hour fast you put yourself at a higher risk of dehydration. During the fasting period, you can consume fruits and vegetables that are a source of water so you need to remember to drink even more water.
A good way to avoid dehydration is to stay hydrated with water and electrolytes throughout the day. Electrolyte-infused water is a good choice and if you don’t like plain water you can add lemon juice for flavor.
Headaches and irritability
Some people following Eat Stop Eat may experience headaches and irritability especially during the first few weeks of fasting. These symptoms are mild and usually go away on their own.
Who shouldn’t follow this intermittent fasting method
You should avoid the Eat Stop Eat diet if you are:
- Pregnant or trying to conceive
- Have a history of disordered eating behaviors
- Currently underweight or struggle to meet your daily nutrient recommendations
- Under 18 or over 65 years old
Is Eat Stop Eat good choice for newbies?
There is no research to suggest the Eat Stop Eat diet is more effective and easier to follow than other intermittent fasting methods. But if you’ve never fasted before you might find this protocol is easier to sustain since it allows you to have at least one meal daily.
You may also choose to fast on the weekend when you can indulge in activities to distract yourself from cravings.
Eat Stop Eat alternatives
For some people Eat Stop Eat may be similar to the 5:2 diet where you also fast for two days a week but it’s allowed to consume 500 calories during the fasting days. If you want to learn more about the 5:2 diet here is a beginner’s guide to this diet: The 5:2 Diet | What Is It and How To Eat On A 500 Calorie Fasting Days.
Alternate Day Fasting – this fasting method is for those who want to watch and reach specific weight goals. The basic idea is that you fast on one day and then eat whatever you want the next day.
This method is perfect for weight watchers as they can follow up on how many calories they retake every day. Here you can find out more about this diet: Alternate Day Fasting For Weight Loss: How To Do It And What To Expect
The Warrior Diet – an extreme type of intermittent fasting where you fast for 20 hours and you have a 4-hour window to eat whatever you want. This regime is maybe difficult for many people to follow especially for those who can’t eat a large meal in one take.
Eat Stop Eat – FAQ
Q: What makes Eat Stop eat different from other intermittent fasting methods?
A: The other methods require a lot of discipline and a weak social life. Eat Stop Eat is a better approach for anyone with a sociable lifestyle. You fast once to maintain weight or twice a week to lose weight. You can enjoy your favorite foods and drinks for the rest of the week, other intermittent fasting methods require strict protocols when it comes to time.
Q: Should I exercise on Eat Stop Eat?
A: When you’re on Eat Stop Eat you engage in resistance or weight training to maintain and build muscle, rather than cardio or another type of exhaustive exercise. You don’t have to exercise on fasting days, but you should set up a consistent training schedule of four to three times per week.
Should you try Eat Stop Eat diet – final thoughts
Eat Stop Eat diet is a fasting method in which you fast for 24 hours once or twice a week but you will eat something every day. It is not so hard to follow it is flexible and suits your schedule unless you are super busy. You chose which days you will fast if it’s easier for you that can be weekends.
You can try this eating pattern but be patient. Give your body time to adapt to this eating program, be consistent with what you eat, when you eat, how much you eat and you will be surprised how well this simple plan really works.
Also, if you decide to start with the Eat Stop Eat diet be aware that this plan can help you to shed pounds but also there are some side effects that you should know, mentioned above here.
Like always when you are making any change in your diet consult with your doctor or dietitian before starting with a new diet like Eat Stop Eat in this case.