Want all those intermittent fasting benefits without feeling so restricted? This simple intermittent fasting schedule is totally doable and one you can easily stick with longterm.
It can be considered one more piece of your daily health and wellness routine (like your morning smoothie or after-work yoga class), or is a great way to ease into more restrictive intermittent fasting if you’re just getting started!
Intermittent fasting is all the rage these days.
And I get it — it has a lot of really impressive, well-studied benefits!
- Fat loss —intermittent fasting is a very popular (and typically effective) tool for fat loss since it decreases insulin levels and pushes our bodies into “fat burning” mode (source)
- Lower levels of oxidative stress and inflammation — several studies (like this one, this one, and this one) show that intermittent fasting reduces oxidative stress / levels of free radicals and inflammation in the body, both of which increase our risk of disease and prematurely age our bodies
- Heart health — intermittent fasting can help improve the risk factors of heart disease, including blood pressure, inflammation, obesity, and cholesterol (source)
- Improved insulin sensitivity and reduced risk of type 2 diabetes — many studies (like this one) have found that intermittent fasting significantly reduces blood sugar levels, improving insulin sensitivity and reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes
- Cellular repair — fasting induces cellular repair processes, including removing waste material from cells (source) which is even believed to play an important role in preventing cancer and Alzheimer’s disease
- Improved digestion — since your digestive system is getting a much needed break, many people experience reduced bloating and gas while intermittent fasting (and we know the long-reaching benefits of a healthy digestive system!)
- Boosted liver detoxification — fasting has been used as a detox tool for centuries since it allows your body the time and energy to focus on detoxification rather than digestion
Clearly, intermittent fasting benefits extend well beyond weight loss.
I do a form of intermittent fasting myself and use it as a tool with many of my Nutritional Therapy clients — especially those with insulin resistance, stubborn weight gain, PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), and acne — since these are all closely related to blood sugar levels.
These may be among the reasons you’re interested to try it out too!
Let’s back up just a bit: what is intermittent fasting exactly?
With intermittent fasting, it’s all about when you eat.
Although let’s be clear: WHAT you eat is of course the most important aspect of your health! A nutrient-dense, real food diet is the foundation of a healthy lifestyle — there’s no ifs, ands, or buts about it.
To be clear: intermittent fasting does NOT replace a healthy diet!
Intermittent fasting constricts the timeframe within which you’re eating or also drinking any calories. So yes, even cream in your coffee will “break” the fast!
Intermittent fasting schedules vary.
Some people fast for 14, 16, or 18 hours each day, and confine their meals and all snacks to 10, 8, or 6 hours respectively.
The 16:8 fast:feeding intermittent fasting schedule is one of the most popular, especially for weight loss and insulin resistance.
Needless to say, intermittent fasting can feel restrictive.
After all, it’s all about restricting when you’re eating!
For many of us, more extreme restriction may be doable for a short period of time for a very specific purpose.
Such as for a few weeks (or maybe even months if you have very strong willpower) for the sake of weight loss — but they’re not practical longterm.
And when it comes to intermittent fasting for women, such significant restriction may be actually counterproductive longterm.
According to Precision Nutrition:
While some women who try IF say it’s the best thing that’s happened to them since grapefruit, others report serious problems, including binge eating, metabolic disruption, lost menstrual periods, and early-onset menopause. This has happened in women as young as their mid-20s.
And according to Megan Kober, RD:
Men do well with the longer fasting periods, but women don’t always. Our bodies just weren’t meant to go for longer periods without food, and if we push it too long, our bodies start to hold onto fat.
Megan is a metabolism expert who has helped hundreds of women and men successfully lose weight with her Metabolism Makeover program.
And do you know what intermittent fasting schedule Megan suggests for weight loss support and longterm weight management!?
The very same I use with myself and my own clients…
Enter the 12-hour overnight intermittent fast.
With this simple intermittent fasting schedule, you fast for just 12 hours each day… and you’re sleeping for the majority of that time!
So you may be fasting between 8 pm and 8 am, or 7 pm and 7 am.
Since I recommend eating breakfast within the first hour of waking (also for blood sugar management), I suggest planning your fasting hours around your morning schedule — when you wake up and eat breakfast.
If you’re looking to use intermittent fasting as a longterm tool to support your health and wellbeing, this totally doable 12-hour nighttime fast is for you.
The 12-hour overnight intermittent fast is about the longterm game — longterm health and wellness.
Since I’m not a fan or believer in “quick fixes,” it should be no surprise that I’m a fan of this schedule!
It can be considered one more piece of your health and wellness routine or healthy lifestyle — like your daily workout, smoothie, dry body brushing, or dark chocolate. (Is it just me that eats dark chocolate each day in the name of free-radical-fighting, anti-aging antioxidants!? Hope not!)
And since a healthy lifestyle is all about balance, it’s of course totally 100% fine if you don’t stick to your 12-hour fast each and every day… just like you may not make it to the gym each day.
The best part: it’s not extreme — in fact, it’s totally doable longterm.
After all, with this intermittent fasting schedule, you’re sleeping through the majority of the fast!
But is this intermittent fasting schedule not extreme enough!?
It depends on your own personal health, health goals, and how long you plan to use intermittent fasting as a tool.
For example, if you’re just looking to use intermittent fasting for weight loss, don’t want to keep it up longterm, and have very strong willpower, you may wish to try a more restrictive schedule.
But again, if you’re looking to use intermittent fasting as a longterm tool to support your health and wellbeing, it’s for you.
It is also a great way to ease into intermittent fasting or test it out as a tool to support your health goals.
Start with the 12 hours and go from there. You may be surprised at the benefits of this less restrictive fast and decide there’s no need to restrict any further!
Have you tried more restrictive intermittent fasting or this simple nighttime 12-hour fast?
What was your experience like?
Have any tips or words of wisdom to share with the rest of the community?
We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!