A lot of people probably clicked on this article in disbelief and confusion. Fasting? For 12 hours? How can you grow if you’re fasting? While it may sound like something we’d never say, especially because we urge you to never work out on an empty stomach, we do have some points that can change your mind.
First thing you need to ask yourself is: How long should you sleep if you want to be healthy? You might answer that it should be at least 8 hours, and no less than 6 hours for the average person. That’s correct–studies show that sleep is the number one method to repair your muscles.
While nobody has a problem with letting their body rest for 10 hours, many people have problems with letting their digestive system rest for 12 hours through fasting. They think it’ll stop their growth, especially when they know they need to supply their body with nutrients that help it build muscles.
But what if you only slept 4 hours a day? You’d probably not be able to maintain your body’s health for very long, and you’d take a long time to recover from muscle damage. When you’re sleeping, your brain is repairing your body. Why would it be any different with your digestive system?
How Much Do We Overstrain Our Digestive System?
If you think that your digestive tract is sleeping whenever you are, you’re sorely mistaken. When we stop eating, it takes anywhere from 5-6 hours to fully digest and assimilate that meal. So, if you sleep 9 hours but you’ve had a meal before then, your body will still be digesting it while you sleep.
Statistics show that the majority of people in the U.S. eat for around 15-16 hours of their day. Keeping in mind that it takes 5-6 hours to digest food, the math is simple. That means that for around 21 hours of the day, your digestive tract is working to keep up with you–it’s only resting for 3 hours!
How Long Should You Fast?
If your digestive system is only sleeping for 3 hours in the day, it will have a negative effect on your health and longevity. You need to stay healthy not just for your overall longevity, but in order to recover better and faster after working out.
Studies have looked at different intermittent fasting periods in order to find the optimal way to fast, including 12-hour fasting periods, 16-hour fasting periods, and 20-hour fasting periods. The sweet spot that allows you to sleep longer, stay healthy, and recover faster seems to be the 12-hour period, while the worst type of fasting for muscle growth seems to be the 20-hour fasting period (this type of fasting works best for weight loss).
You can do a 12-hour fast by stopping eating at around 9PM, and starting eating again the next day at 9 AM. This won’t affect your anabolism at all. This shouldn’t be difficult for most people–but no more waking up in the middle of the night to shove down food so that you can keep up with your calories.
Since your digestive tract will be digesting your last meal for 5-6 hours anyways, fasting for 12 hours will give your digestive system 8 hours of sleep. This is the minimum requirement for maintaining your general health, recovery, restoration, and longevity.
There’s another school of thought that argues you should eat every 2 hours during your waking days, but does this hold any merit? Our answer is actually: it depends. We’ll go deeper into this topic in the next article.
We hope this article helped explain why fasting for at least 12 hours of your day is so good for maintaining your health and longevity.