Two-day fasting is a type of intermittent fasting regimen that’s been followed by many in recent years. This type of fasting is quite beneficial in that it promotes substantial reductions in body weight, body fat percentage, and visceral (belly) fat. Personally, I’ve practiced two-day fasting and other forms of intermittent fasting for nearly a decade.
I often recommend this way of eating to serious clients who are committed to maintaining a healthy body weight over the long-term.
What Exactly Is Two-Day Fasting?
As the name implies, two-day fasting involves reduced calorie intake for up to two days each week with normal eating during the remaining five days. While you have a choice as to which days you fast, it’s best to do so on non-consecutive days (a Monday and a Thursday).
During “fasting” days, a very low amount of calories should be consumed (500-600 calories per day). These calories can come in the forms of solid foods (meats and vegetables) and/or beverages (juices and smoothies). Beverages like water, coffee, and tea are also fair game.
This should include at least 5-9 servings of carbohydrates in the form of veggies and fruit in addition to 3-5 servings of whole grains. You should also consume an average of 2-3 servings of lean protein and 1-3 servings of healthy fats (nuts and seeds, avocado, and olive oil). If you choose to add snacks, opt for healthy food sources like lean protein, veggies, and fruit.
How Can Two-Day Fasting Be Beneficial?
In addition to substantial weight loss benefits, two-day fasting is associated with numerous other health benefits. For instance, eating this way has been shown to lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and triglycerides (fat in the blood) while increasing HDL (“good”) cholesterol. Collectively, these effects can greatly reduce your risk of heart disease and related complications like heart attack and stroke.
Two-day fasting has also been shown to reduce blood pressure and blood glucose levels thereby lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes. In addition, fasting this way has been shown to improve both the length and quality of sleep, which further promotes good health. Indeed, nearly all my clients who practice two-day fasting boast of never missing a full night’s rest.
Are There Any Side Effects Associated with Two-Day Fasting?
Although two-day fasting has been researched and proven to be a safe, there are some potential side effects, very similar to those associated with most dieting programs involvin calorie restriction. Such effects include irritability, anxiety, and drowsiness on fasting days. Now, I can personally attest that these side effects are generally alleviated after two weeks or so.
Still, I must emphasize this: Two-day fasting is most beneficial when you consume nutrient-rich foods during the five non-fasting days.
It makes absolutely no sense to incorporate low-calorie, fasting days on Sunday and Wednesday if you find yourself eating quarter pound cheeseburgers on Monday, pizza on Tuesday, fried chicken on Thursday, and so on. It’s also important to consume adequate amounts of water everyday to avoid dehydration.
The Bottom Line
While two-day fasting can produce long-term health benefits, it’s still a good idea to consult with your physician before adopting this way of eating. If you’re pregnant or lactating, have a history of eating disorders, or have been diagnosed with diabetes or other metabolic disorders, two-day fasting is probably not the most viable option for you.