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How Long Should I Fast? What’s the BEST Fasting Schedule?

New to Intermittent Fasting? If you haven’t picked an IF plan yet you may be wondering, “How long should I fast?”

My go-to answer in the past was, it depends on your own body chemistry…

One person’s biggest insulin drop (lower insulin = better fasting results!) may occur at a different time than another person’s…

Everyone’s metabolism is slightly different, so while everyone can benefit from IF, the best schedule and eating window varies from person to person…

At least, that’s what I thought!!

But then I saw a study from the 90s that still makes a lot of sense today, showing that you can get a lot of benefits from fasting at least 18 – 24 hours.

I know, all you 16:8 fans are probably saying, come on!!

Let me explain the reasoning with a bit of science!

So, first off, what does being in a ‘fasted state” mean in science-speak? It means:

  1. Your stomach isn’t breaking down food, which means no glucose in the stomach, which means blood glucose drops.
  2. Because your blood glucose is low, your insulin level drops.
  3. Your body wants to maintain balanced blood glucose, so it uses stored glucose, glycogen…remember in my last blog post I talked about exercising to get the glycogen out of your muscles!
  4. Once the glycogen is gone, fat is burned for fuel instead, and you’re in the fasted state!

As you probably already knew, this happens 8 – 12 hours after you’re done eating.

Exactly how many hours it takes to be fasted varies a bit from person to person, and also depending on what you ate (high-carb = longer!).

So, how long should I fast??

Here’s where it gets interesting…You’d think the 16:8 schedule is good enough, because you’re in the fasted state for a few good hours!

But, the problem is, your insulin levels are still too high to experience mass fat breakdown!

One IMPORTANT component of the fasted state that a lot of people don’t know about is, the effectiveness of the fat loss and cell autophagy depends quite a bit on your insulin level…which KEEPS DECREASING the longer you fast!

So, when you’ve fasted for 16 hours (and been in the state for 4 hours) your insulin is still higher than it could be…it will continue to get lower the longer you go…

And that lower insulin means that your fast will burn fat!!

(Within reason, of course. If you look at the chart from the study, you’ll see that if you try to go much longer than my 60-hour fast, your insulin starts to spike back up again. Not a good move!)

If you’re asking “How long should I fast”…

The answer is still up to you! Whether you’re a fan of the 5:2 diet, fasting two days a week, or you want to expand or contract your eating window.

I say, trial and error is your friend, and then go with whatever makes you feel great! That is the end goal, after all, and it’s easy to lose sight of that when you’re thinking about maximizing health, performance, results…

So, I don’t want you to get obsessed here. But I think it’s so, so worth mentioning that being in a fasted state for longer reduces your insulin levels, which directly causes fat loss and cell autophagy to be more efficient.

And, of course, it’s not just about reaching peak fasted-state awesomeness, but also just…y’know…being in the fasted state is good for you! 

For that reason alone, 16:8 is great, but 18:6 or 20:24 is just a little bit better.

That’s my NEW go-to answer for “how long should I fast”!

There’s no better feeling than finding a way to improve on your IF…finding a way to improve even more on something already great you’re doing for your body!

Hey Babe, What’s Your “Type”? Keto Diet Types, I Mean…

Did you know there are many keto diet types?

Yup, there’s a lot of sub-types of the keto diet! As you dive down keep into ketosis, and into keto culture, you’ll want to know more about SKD vs. TKD vs. CKD, a subject that the keto community is pretty divided on!

Don’t worry, I’ll explain those acronyms soon!!


Which of the Keto Diet Types is Right for You?

Making the decision to go on a diet is easy, but choosing the diet that’s BEST for you is more challenging.

To prepare yourself for success, find a plan that is effective, aligns with your personal fitness goals and is achievable within your individual lifestyle.

Maybe you’ve already done some research and know you’re interested in keto…

And sure, a diet that lets you eat bacon with your breakfast sounds great, but not all ketogenic diets follow the same meal plan. The term “ketogenic” refers to a nutritional plan that is high in fat and low in carbs.

Starting with that basic principle, a few variations of the diet have been developed to fit different lifestyles. Which one’s for you? Well, let’s find out!


Your Keto Options

SKD – Standard Keto Diet

The majority of people just starting off will follow the most common of the keto diet types: the standard ketogenic diet, or SKD.

On this plan, you’ll stick to a fairly strict dietary regimen with high-fat content and very few carbs. The actual number of carbs that can be consumed will depend on the individual, but 30-50 g per day is typically considered to be low-carb.

Who should use an SKD?

In general, this type of keto diet is designed for burning off stored fat and losing weight. This makes it appealing to lots of people, from the severely overweight, to those who just want to be healthy and shed a few extra pounds.

An SKD is not for those who participate in highly intense exercise on a regular basis, like serious bodybuilders. But if you’re like the average person, i.e. moderately active, a standard keto diet may be a perfect fit for you! Congrats!!


TKD – Targeted Keto Diet

On a TKD, you follow a high-fat, low-carb diet the majority of the time. The difference is that you’ll allow yourself a few more carbs just before and after exercising.

The goal here is to have just enough carbs to fuel your workout sufficiently, but not enough to throw your body out of ketosis. Typically around 25 g of healthy carbohydrates both pre- and post- workout is enough to boost your energy and help build a moderate amount of muscle.

The exact amount varies depending on the individual, but on a TKD, you have to be cautious with your carb intake. If you fail to use the extra carbohydrates, you’ll risk the leftover carbs being stored as fat.

Who should use a TKD?

The targeted keto diet is a middle ground between SKD and the more intense CKD. If you exercise regularly, and you’re looking to gain muscle, a TKD may be a good choice. You can reap the fat burning benefits of ketosis while providing your body with the extra energy it needs for more strenuous activity!!

Some individuals who have successfully been on an SKD for an extended period of time may eventually make the switch to a TKD…

If you’ve reached your initial weight loss goals, and find yourself becoming more serious about exercising, the TKD could give you the extra fuel that you need.

Also, checking out my YouTube channel and my workouts page are good places to start if you’re gonna become an exercising fiend!


CKD – Cyclical Keto Diet

The term “cyclical keto diet” comes from the cycle of high and low carbs you follow on this type of keto diet. Typically, on a CKD, you’ll stick with the standard high-fat, low carb routine during the week and load up heavily on carbs on the weekend.

The timeframe can vary slightly with shorter or longer cycles, but a weekly schedule is usually the most convenient to follow.

Who should use a CKD?

As far as ketogenic diets are concerned, a CKD isn’t where most people should start!

A cyclical keto diet is only for those who are on the advanced side of the fitness spectrum and regularly take part in intense workouts. CKDs have become increasingly popular among bodybuilders, for its ability to improve fat metabolism while avoiding loss of muscle.

If you’re considering this type of diet, you should be confident that you are firmly in the serious athlete category!!

If you’re not using up every last bit of carbohydrates that you pack in during the carb load phase, they’ll be stored as fat, and you certainly won’t see the results you were wanting. 😉

When deciding which of the keto diet types to follow, it’s important to be honest with yourself about where your fitness level is now, what your goals are for the future, and, just plain, what works for you without taking over your life!

So whether you’re trying to bulk up for your next big competition, trying to get the most out of your time at the gym, or simply aiming to get rid of that belly bulge, there is a keto diet that is right for you!

Need a Jumpstart on your Keto journey? Click here!