I get really annoyed when people talk about intermittent fasting like it’s an eating disorder, a fad diet, or a risky llifestyle. If you look at most of human history, having three meals a day seven days a week has not been the norm. Of course, we benefit a lot from the year-round abundance of wholesome foods and I am grateful. However, we take that to “extremes” and many of us barely ever stop eating. To me, that is way more problematic than any extreme intermittent fasting method. That’s why obesity is the new pandemic. The real threat for the average Westerner is not undereating but overeating.
That being said, like everything else, intermittent fasting can be pushed to the uttermost. This post about extreme intermittent fasting will address some intermittent fasting pitfalls to avoid in order to remain within the confines of a healthy and sustainable lifestyle.
What Is Extreme Intermittent Fasting?
If you look online, most people would say that OMAD (One Meal a Day) is extreme intermittent fasting. In fact, it is the most common type of intermittent fasting that comes up on the topic. Never mind that people snack on chips and pop in the middle of the night, avoid eating only one meal a day, it is soooo dangerous!
One Meal a Day (OMAD)
OMAD makes all the other intermittent fasting methods look easy. For the beginner, fasting for 23 hours and eating for one hour may seem like an impossible accomplishment. Consequently, OMAD is probably not the best choice for those getting started. While some people just love a challenge and succeed right away, the average person is more likely to find it too difficult to sustain long term.
OMAD is not for everyone and it’s not the first intermittent fasting method I tend to recommend. However, I have seen many women thrive with it. One, in particular, has been keeping it up for 3 years! She is at a healthy weight and feels great.
The two main benefits of OMAD are the longer fasting window for greater healing and eating only once a day frees up a lot of time. It simplifies life! The main issue with OMAD is that it can be difficult to consume all your daily calories within one hour.
Read How to Lose Weight on OMAD: Step-By-Step Action Plan for more info on OMAD.
I saw one article online call the Warrior Diet “extreme intermittent fasting” as well. I mean, I can see how someone who doesn’t know much about the benefits of fasting could think that not eating for 20 hours a day is extreme. In my mind, it is anything but “extreme.” It was the intermittent fasting method that allowed me to lose 20 lbs. And 4-hour is long enough of an eating window that it still took me a year to lose that amount of weight. Some months, I wouldn’t lose any weight.
When you can eat whatever you want for four hours, you don’t have to stuff yourself. You can take your time and you can still consume a decent amount of food.
Read Why You Should Consider Trying the Warrior Diet for Weight Loss to learn about all the benefits of the Warrior Diet or the 20:4 intermittent fasting method.
Alternate-day fasting is another intermittent fasting method that could be called extreme. Fasting for 36 hours twice a week would seem like an eating disorder to the average person who has not heard much about fasting.
Most fasting experts agree that autophagy starts at around 18-20 hours of fasting with maximal benefits occurring at around 48-72 hours. Alternate-day fasting is the one intermittent fasting method that gives you that longer fasting window for increased autophagy benefits.
Since alternate-day fasting allows you to get into deeper ketosis, you will notice that you don’t tend to overcompensate on your feeding days. That’s the magic of your metabolic switchover.
Read What Is Alternate-Day Fasting and Why It Works to learn more.
Is Extreme Intermittent Fasting Extreme?
It depends on who you ask, of course! My answer would be it depends on you. How do you feel? I always say to listen to your body and stop obsessing over the scale. Start slowly by doing the Warrior Diet 4 days a week at first. Increase to 6 days a week if everything goes well. Give it two weeks and monitor your health markers.
Your Health Markers
When you are evaluating if an intermittent fasting method is right for you, pay attention to:
- Your sleep: Is your sleep improving? Are you falling asleep easily, staying asleep, sleeping soundly?
- Your mood: Are you feeling calm, happy, peaceful? Feeling anxious and deprived is not a good sign.
- Your energy level: You should notice an increase in your energy level over time.
- Your cravings: Your food cravings should decrease. I’ve found that most people who embark on a health journey struggle with cravings. Intermittent fasting is the ideal remedy.
- Your appetite: Aside from cravings, you may even notice that your appetite stabilizes and you don’t need to eat as much at meal time.
Why worry that your intermittent fasting method is “extreme” if it helps you feel your best?
How to Make Sure You Don’t Fall Into Extreme Intermittent Fasting
What I would define as “extreme intermittent fasting” is any type of intermittent fasting that is affecting your health negatively. You are going to monitor the health markers I mentioned above to make sure your new lifestyle is done safely.
Moreover, make sure your weight remains within safe limits. If you fall in the “underweight” range, that’s not a good sign. This page will help you determine what your healthy weight is according to your age, gender and height.
If you are a women, don’t forget to make sure you are not intermittent fasting to the point of stopping your menstrual cycles. Too much stress on your body is not going to benefit you long term.
However, when you are feeling well, are nourishing your body with wholesome foods, and are within your healthy weight range, you don’t need to worry that intermittent fasting will harm you.
How to Handle the Naysayers
So, you have decided to keep practicing what some would call “extreme intermittent fasting” because you feel amazing? How do you handle the naysayers who are telling you how dangerous it is?
I have some suggestions you may find helpful:
- Don’t tell everyone about intermittent fasting. Maybe you understand how amazing it is, but the average person most likely won’t. If you want to avoid having naysayers around you, choose carefully who you tell about your discovery.
- Don’t let the opinion of others stop you. You know your own body best. What other people think is none of your business.
- Know when to stop trying to convince others. Maybe you have a close friend whom you thought would benefit from intermittent fasting and were disappointed to learn that she didn’t get it. Discuss it rationally, present studies or whatever else you think will be helpful, but know when to stop trying to convince her. Sometimes, it just won’t happen. Move on with your life.
You are a full grown adult and you are responsible for your own health, that’s the bottom line.
People tend to label things they don’t understand as “extreme” that goes with intermittent fasting too. For some, extreme intermittent fasting is OMAD. Others might even say that fasting for 16 hours a day can cause eating disorders and therefore is extreme. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but you do you.