Thinking of taking your Intermittent Fasting a step further? Or maybe you’d like to add Extended Fasting to your Keto or Carnivore lifestyle?
This beginner’s Guide to EF is for you!
What is Extended Fasting?
In most circles, Extended Fasting is defined as fasting beyond 72 hours. Some people fast for a week or two weeks. Some go even longer than that, with proper medical supervision.
Is it really safe to go that long without food?
For most people, Extended Fasting is considered safe. You have to remember that even though you’re not putting food in your mouth, your body has a fuel source—your stored fat.
Some people, however, should not fast. Do not fast if any of the following apply:
- Low BMI (under 20)
- Pregnant or breastfeeding
- History of eating disorders
Children should not fast as they need consistent nutrients supply for growth.
You should always consult with your doctor if you plan to do an Extended Fast, especially if you have any medical conditions or you are on any medications.
Read more about safe fasting
What are the benefits of Extended Fasting?
Extended Fasting has many benefits. Some of those include:
- Weight loss – This is the obvious one and the reason many people come to fasting
- Prevention and reversal of metabolic diseases
- Increased insulin sensitivity
- Freedom from food addictions
- Mental clarity
- Increased energy
Is Extended Fasting better than Intermittent Fasting?
That depends on you. For people who have a lot more weight to lose, Extended Fasting can bring quicker results.
Many people prefer the ease of just continuing to fast, rather than starting and stopping over and over with Intermittent Fasting.
For others, the thought of going long periods of time without food is scary, and that’s okay.
You can still get the same results from Intermittent Fasting if done consistently. It might just take a little longer to get there.
Will Extended Fasting mess up my metabolism?
For most people, no. It can actually boost your metabolism.
It’s important to note that fasting is not the same as dieting.
Eating no food is not the same as eating smaller portions of food, as in a calorie-restricted diet.
Yo-yo dieting is what messes up the metabolism.
What can I eat during Extended Fasting?
You don’t eat anything at all during an Extended Fast.
Some people include bone broth, but only sips, and just enough to help push through.
What can I drink on an Extended Fast?
Water, coffee, and tea, with no added sugars or sweeteners.
If you are struggling to keep fasting, some experts recommend adding one tablespoon of fat (heavy cream, butter, etc.) to your coffee or tea several times a day. This would technically break your fast but calories from fat will be quickly expended and you may find it easier to continue with your fast.
How can I deal with hunger and cravings during an Extended Fast?
Surprisingly, hunger is not that much of an issue while fasting.
Once you’re past the first three days or so, most people report little to no hunger or cravings.
But if you do struggle, here are some tips to help:
- Ride the waves! Hunger comes in waves and if you can just wait it out for 15 minutes or so it will usually subside.
- If you have a specific craving, remind yourself that you can have it after your fast is over. Nine times out of ten, you won’t even want it then.
- Try to make peace with hunger. Understand that it’s just a feeling, like any other feeling, and it doesn’t have to be negative. You can choose to see it as a positive sign that your body is burning fat.
- Get support! It helps to have a fasting buddy or a coach you can reach out to.
- Stay busy! And not just physically busy. Keep your mind busy, as well.
- Do something creative. Did you know that creative activities such as crochet, painting, or writing release some of the same feel-good hormones as when you have your favorite snack?
- Have some salt or a few sips of pickle juice. Hunger is often a signal that you are low on salt.
- Drink some water. Hunger is often confused with thirst.
Do I need electrolytes for Extended Fasting?
Absolutely. You will need sodium, magnesium, and potassium. You can find these in our Fasting Salts.
If you plan to fast for 14 days or more, you will also need to start B1 and phosphorus at least 30 minutes prior to breaking your fast, these can be found in our Fasting Refeed formula.
What about vitamins? Will I need those?
You don’t have to take them, but you can if you want.
How do I know when to break my Extended Fast?
It’s mostly up to you, but there are some signs to watch out for. If you experience any of the following, it’s probably a good idea to break your fast and do a safe refeed:
- Nausea that doesn’t go away, despite being hydrated and taking your electrolytes
- Rapid or irregular heart rate
- Sudden or extreme weakness – You might experience some general weakness at first, due to blood sugars dropping, but weakness that comes on suddenly or is extreme is a sign to break your fast
- The return of natural hunger – Natural hunger is different than the hunger pains we get in the tummy, it is felt in the mouth and throat and comes after many days of having no hunger
Any feeling that something is wrong should be honored, always listen to your body and break the fast if you feel you need to.
What’s the best way to break my Extended Fast?
It’s important to break your fast gently and with caution. Your body will need some time to adjust. This transition back to the normal way of eating is your refeed phase.
Plan to refeed for half as many days as you fasted. So for a five-day fast, two days of refeeding should be fine. But if you fasted for 14 days—you would need to refeed for at least seven days.
Stay away from heavy carbs. No pastas, rice, or starchy vegetables like potatoes. Foods that are easy to digest are best, especially the first few days.
Avoid junk food and highly-processed foods.
Start with small quantities of food and gradually increase. Think spoonfuls at first, not bowl fulls or plate fulls.
Read our full guide to fasting refeed phase
Extended Fasting is a great option
Extended Fasting is a wonderful tool for weight loss, health, and longevity. It’s an amazing feeling when you find out what you’re truly capable of!
But if EF doesn’t sound appealing to you, there are other ways of eating you can try. Intermittent Fasting comes with many of the same benefits, as do Keto and Carnivore diets.
The key is to find a way of eating that you can stick to and to stay consistent.
Author: Roo Black
Roo is a fasting coach with over 5 years of experience. She leads the admin team of the Official Fasting for Weight Loss Facebook group – one of the largest fasting communities on social media with over 125,000 members. We highly recommend this group for anyone who is looking for fasting advice or coaching.