Eat Stop Eat is a method of intermittent fasting developed by author Brad Pilon, which involves fasting for 24-hours twice weekly. Pilon stumbled upon the plan’s effectiveness while doing research on intermittent fasting as a graduate student at Ontario, Canada’s University of Guelph.
The 24-hour fasting plan allows you to eat something every day. For example, enjoy your evening dinner, and then eat nothing until dinner the following day. On the Eat Stop Eat plan, you’ll repeat this pattern on non-consecutive days twice weekly.
Because it allows for at least one meal each day, Eat Stop Eat differs from alternate day fasting, a type of intermittent fasting in which one cycles through a 36-hour period of no food, followed by a 12-hour eating window. Fasting more than 24 hours is quite extreme for most people.
How Eat Stop Eat Promotes Weight Loss
Eat Stop Eat and alternate-day fasting are both variations of a 24-hour fasting plan. Either can help you lose weight in one of two primary ways. The first and most obvious is the caloric deficit that occurs by eliminating several meals per week. The second method, metabolic shifting, is a new concept to most people. We look at both below.
While there are several factors involved in weight loss, it remains true that consuming too many calories is only going to lead to weight gain, and to lose weight you must consume less.
Many people find that intermittent fasting is a more sustainable way to reduce their caloric consumption than daily calorie deficits. Some studies even show it’s a better way to lose weight, due to the preservation of muscle mass and increased fat loss.
Anecdotally, 24-hour plans such as the Eat Stop Eat diet, restrict calories just twice weekly, which can be far less stressful than caloric restriction at every meal.
Metabolic shifting helps you not only lose weight, but specifically increases fat burning, and maybe induced by intermittent fasting protocols where one abstains from food for a minimum of 12 hours.
Normally, the body runs on glucose, derived from the sugars that are readily available when we eat 3 meals per day or more. After 12 or more hours of fasting, the body burns through its stores of glucose and transitions to fat for fuel instead. This metabolic shift is referred to as ketosis.
While some people experience metabolic shifting after just 12 hours of eating, some bodies take longer to make the change. By abstaining from food for a full 36 hours, as with alternate-day fasting, you may be more likely to achieve a ketogenic state.
Is Eat Stop Eat the Best Intermittent Fasting Plan?
Intermittent fasting’s benefits, regardless of the method, include weight loss, increased fat burning, maintenance of muscle mass, a reduction in hunger hormones and increased insulin sensitivity.
While there are no specific studies that say the Eat Stop Eat diet plan is better than any other intermittent fasting method, for some people, the schedule may be easier to sustain in the long run, as it allows for at least one meal daily, and normal eating 5 days per week.
The Eat Stop Eat protocol is actually quite flexible. For example, your fast can take place from dinner on Day 1 until dinner on Day 2, meaning you’ll never have to skip another late-night dinner date. If an active, busy life requires you to fuel up with an early morning breakfast, you can eat your breakfast every day, and fast from midday through the night.
Those who struggle with hunger during their fasts find it’s much easier to fast just 2 days per week. Many of us have had the experience of a missed meal on a busy day; Eat Stop Eat simply extends this window a bit longer.
Is Eat Stop Eat Safe?
While fasting for 24 hours is healthy for most people, in some cases, 24-hour fasting is not recommended for either physiological or psychological reasons.
24 hours of fasting is not recommended if you are currently underweight or struggle to meet your daily nutrition requirements, as the long term fast can exacerbate these struggles. Neither is recommended if you are pregnant or trying to conceive; it also should be closely monitored by doctors if you have low blood sugar or diabetes.
As with any fast, staying hydrated is especially important, as we get hydration from the foods we eat and it’s all too easy to forget to drink liquids outside of mealtimes.
Long-term fasting can trigger unhealthy habits or binge eating in some people, especially those who have experienced disordered eating in the past. Be mindful of what your comfort level is with the length of your fast and notice if your fasting schedule triggers unhealthy eating. As with any intermittent fasting plan, to get the most benefit, you need to eat responsibly outside of the fasting window, consuming healthy, whole foods in moderation.
In general, 24-hour fasting is not only safe for most people, but many find it the most sustainable method of fasting due to the reasons mentioned above. Intermittent fasting schedules aren’t one-size-fits-all, however. It’s ultimately up to you to decide what feels best in your body and fits most comfortably in your life. Visit our guide to Intermittent Fasting plans to learn how other protocols work.