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Intermittent Fasting
36-Hour Fast Benefits and Drawbacks
Intermittent Fasting

36-Hour Fast Benefits and Drawbacks

Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Published on 2022 July 14
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4 min

What are the benefits of fasting for 36 hours aside from the obvious weight loss? In this article, our medical team weighs up the benefits and drawbacks.

36 hour fast benefits

The 36-hour fast, otherwise known as the Monk Fast, is a popular fasting plan.

It is considered one of the more manageable fasts as it doesn’t require frequent restrictions. Plus, it’s not too complicated to follow. 

Many people use the 36-hour fast as a weight-loss method, while others use it for the potential health benefits it brings.

That said, this type of fasting often faces disapproval. Many criticize the technique for being an unsustainable practice.

To give you a better understanding of the Monk Fast, we will share the benefits and potential drawbacks of fasting for 36 hours, as well as the best food to eat when you break the fast. 

What Is a 36-Hour Fast?

A 36-hour fast is an intensive type of intermittent fasting and is more appropriately known as the Monk Fast.

But is it a safe way to lose weight? Are there any health benefits?

The fast specifically requires you to go 36 hours a week of complete fasting. Throughout the fast, you can drink plenty of water (tea and coffee are also permitted), but you must abstain from eating food.

You can schedule your fasting period for a time that best fits your lifestyle and daily routines. 

You also need a meal plan for when you break your fast, as there are certain foods that are best to eat.

36-Hour Fast Benefits

Let us start off by looking at the benefits of this extreme form of intermittent fasting and calorie restriction diet: 

#1 Better concentration

Some research into mice suggests that short periods of intermittent fasting may improve brain function, including learning and memory.

Although more research on humans is required, it’s possible that your cognitive processes may be more effective during the fasting period.

#2 Improved blood sugar control

Research suggests that intermittent fasting can help improve blood sugar control. Improving insulin levels and your body’s ability to transport sugar from your bloodstream to your cells. 

#3 Weight management

Possibly the main benefit you want to hear is that intermittent fasting promotes weight loss and reduces body fat while preserving lean body mass.

While it can be tough to follow, the benefits of weight management make it a popular choice for many. During fasting, your body will burn fat for energy, aiding your weight loss. 

#4 Reduced cholesterol

Intermittent fasting has been proven to reduce blood pressure and levels of bad cholesterol, which can be a leading cause of heart disease. 

#5 Increased longevity

More research needs to be carried out on humans; however, there have been promising results through animal studies to suggest intermittent fasting can extend longevity. 

It also showed promising signs of anti-aging and cardiovascular disease risk being lowered. 

Fasting Once a Week: Is It a Good Idea?

It is certainly one of the more challenging ways of losing weight, but fasting once a week can bring potential health benefits, from improved blood sugar and cholesterol levels. 

As you’re only fasting once, you may find it more manageable than frequent fasts. This form of fasting does, of course, come with its own drawbacks. 

If you have been living off only water for 36 hours, you may experience headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and nausea. There is also the risk you can become dehydrated if you haven’t been drinking enough water to replace the water you would normally get from foods. 

You will, of course, have the mental battle of when you feel hungry and how best to distract yourself. As with any intermittent fasting plan, hunger pangs are going to be one of your biggest challenges. 

Keeping a bottle of water to hand may help your body’s ability to run on an empty stomach until you can start eating again. 

It will help with weight loss as long as you are sensible with your approach. 

What to Eat After a 36-Hour Fast?

What you eat after an extended fast will help contribute to the benefits listed above. 

While it might be tempting to eat a lot to curb those hunger pangs, it is more sensible to eat a little to start with. Try eating nutritious food if you don’t want to gain weight after fasting.

During the fasting period, your body enters a process of cellular renewal. This is where old cells are metabolized, stem cells are activated, and new cells are made. 

It is important to feed the new cells with nutritious foods while remembering your stomach will have shrunk, and the digestive enzymes can take time to return to a level that is considered normal. 

Drinking bone broth is highly recommended as it offers high amounts of protein as well as anti-inflammatory compounds like glycine. 

Healthy fats found in foods such as eggs and avocado are great first foods to eat after a fast. Starchy vegetables such as potatoes and smoothies are packed with nutrients and might be a gentler way to break the fast. 

Once you are able to tolerate foods that are gentle on the stomach, you can then start adding more lean meat, fish, beans, and nuts. Be sure to consume enough protein on your eating window if you don’t want to lose muscle.

A Word From Our RD

Intermittent fasting is based on a diet of calorie restriction for periods of time. There are many different variations of this diet, including the 16:8 diet, 5:2 fasting, and Eat Stop Eat. It is up to you which one you go for on your weight loss journey. However, it is worth reading up on the benefits and drawbacks of each one.

If you are going to try intermittent fasting for longer periods of time, it is worth mentioning a word of caution.

If you have a history of disordered eating, this could trigger unhealthy habits. Another way to try an intermittent fast is to try alternate day fasting, which may be more manageable. This involves periodic fasting, broken up by non-fasting days, which you may find easier to follow.

Conclusion

Overall, we have looked at the benefits of a 36-hour fasting regime. It can contribute to weight loss through calorie restriction and not eating for a total of 36 hours within a week. 

Keeping an eye on your body weight is important for weight loss management when following an intermittent fasting plan. Careful meal planning to break your fast is also important to ease your body back into the cycle of eating. 

Speak with your doctor if you have any underlying health issues you may be concerned about before starting your diet.

Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed byRosmy Barrios, MD
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