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    So, you heard about the Eat Stop Eat method of intermittent fasting:

    • two days of 24-hour fasting
    • five days of eating as you wish to

    and you’re intrigued. 

    It’s low on rules and high on flexibility, plus the results look promising. Maybe this is the schedule for you!

    Empty plate, full potential, but is Eat Stop Eat the right choice? Two days of fasting, five days of eating — understand the potential risks and alternatives before deciding if this method is the right fit for your well-being.

    Before you can say for sure, you want all the details. Smart move. We’re here for it. 

    Let’s get into what Eat Stop Eat is all about, its benefits and risks, and how it might fit into your life so you can decide if this approach is one to try on for size or one to put straight back on the rack. 

    At Simple, we don’t recommend more restrictive fasting schedules where you eat either nothing or a limited amount of calories for 18+ hours — especially if you plan to fast daily. These fasting schedules involve more potential risks and safety concerns, and there isn’t really evidence to suggest they’re more effective results-wise than our most recommended fasting approach (time-restricted eating). For more info on the fasting schedules we support, take a look at 12-hour intermittent fasting, 14:10 intermittent fasting, and 16:8 intermittent fasting

    Key takeaways

    • Eat Stop Eat involves doing two 24-hour fasts each week.
    • You’re in charge of when you fast and what you eat.
    • It can help create weight loss, regulate blood sugar, and boost heart health.
    • Dehydration, nutrient deficiencies, and hormone disruption are some of the risks.
    • It can be a tricky fasting schedule to manage safely — a doctor’s seal of approval is a must — so we generally recommend less restrictive approaches. 

    What is the Eat Stop Eat intermittent fasting diet?

    Here’s a quick recap to start: 

    Intermittent fasting is an approach to health improvement and weight loss that alternates eating and fasting in a structured way. 

    So, what is Eat Stop Eat? 

    It’s a method of intermittent fasting that involves two non-consecutive, 24-hour fasts per week. 

    That means that two days a week, you’ll eat just one meal. Whether that’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner is up to you, and you can vary it as you wish. An example week might look like this:

    The rules of Eat Stop Eat finish there.

    You get to choose your fasting days, and there are no specifications around what to eat on your non-fast days. The founder of Eat Stop Eat, Brad Pilon, claims this is the main reason why the diet works: 

    “The simple truth is that it’s very hard to change the way you eat. The Eat Stop Eat method is the simplest way to eat and to live that will help you lose weight and keep it off.” 

    Is that true? 

    That’s what we’re going to find out. 

    So, how does Eat Stop Eat work?

    Eat Stop Eat works like any other intermittent fasting method.

    1. It reduces your caloric intake.

    By applying the broad brush rule of “no food for X period of time” (in this case, 24 hours, twice a week), Eat Stop Eat naturally reduces the amount of calories you eat overall. According to Pilon, just one 24-hour fast could create a 10% calorie deficit. 

    1. It (potentially) shifts your metabolism into fat-burning mode.

    When you eat throughout the day on a regular breakfast-lunch-dinner pattern, your body gets the energy it needs from the food you eat. 

    By contrast, when you fast for 12+ hours, your body has to draw energy from the glucose it has stored on previous days. Once that’s used up, it shifts to burning fat for energy.

    This metabolic shift is called ketosis and specifically targets fat cells.[1] That is part of what helps you to lose weight via fasting (more on this later).

    Now, fasting for 12 hours can trigger this metabolic shift, but it may take longer than that. The idea behind Eat Stop Eat is that a 24-hour fast increases the likelihood that you’ll enter a ketogenic state. 

    Logically, this makes sense, but there’s no real evidence to support this claim. Bodies are unique, and your body will respond in its own way. 

    Do you need 24 hours of fasting to hit ketosis? Maybe, maybe not. That’s one reason why it’s important to check in with your healthcare team before making any significant changes to your eating routine: ultimately, you want to find a fasting schedule that works for you and your body, needs, goals, lifestyle, and preferences. 

    Plus, a 24-hour fast is a pretty big undertaking; it takes a lot of discipline and careful meal planning to practice safely. So, why make your life harder than it has to be by doing a longer fast — which introduces more potential risk — if you don’t need to in order to achieve the same results? If you’re new to all this, we can help you get started. Take our Simple quiz to tell us more about you and your goals, and we can recommend an approach from there.

    Eat Stop Eat schedule and meal plan

    While when you eat is the most important, you still want to make sure what you eat is healthy, filling, and nutrient-dense. Choose a winning lunch combo (veggies + fruits + healthy fats = a slam dunk).

    For Pilon, the Eat Stop Eat schedule maximizes the importance of meal timing, i.e., it’s more about when you eat than what you eat. The same is true for any intermittent fasting schedule. 

    The only real advice he gives here is to eat “responsibly.” As long-time intermittent fasting fans here at Simple, we know that to really get the most from intermittent fasting, you gotta pay attention to what you eat and drink.

    Let’s pull together a few useful rules of thumb. 

    Whether it’s a fast day or not, there are certain foods that help you both fast well and get the results you want

    We’re talking about the usual suspects:

    • lean protein
    • healthy fats
    • whole grains
    • fruits and vegetables
    • calcium-rich foods

    Your basic mixture of high-quality, healthful, minimally-processed foods, put together in any way you enjoy. 

    As far as what you can drink while fasting, the list is pretty short and simple. On fasting days, stick to:

    • water
    • tea and coffee with no milk or sugar 

    Drinking plenty of water will help you stay hydrated (super important when fasting), and water is also one of the best ways to hack hunger while fasting. Keep your water bottle close and refill often! 

    You can also explore our guide on how to build a meal plan.

    Psst! These meal planning guidelines are helpful for any intermittent fasting schedule. If you go with our recommended approach of not fasting for more than 18 hours in one day, you’ll have plenty of time to fill up and fuel up on all the nutrients you need, with less micromanaging!

    The Eat Stop Eat method and weight loss

    Top dog when it comes to weight loss has always been one thing: creating a calorie deficit.[2] 

    Compared to having to count calories every day, fasting for 24 hours twice a week could be an easier way to create that deficit sustainably. With two fasting days per week, that’s:

    • less meal prep and planning
    • less weighing up your options
    • fewer days trying to make great food choices

    Maybe Eat Stop Eat could give you a leg up on that all-important “eat less than you burn” weight loss principle.  

    Top that off with the ketosis we already talked about, when your body boosts fat-burning (quick recap: you’re fasting, there’s no fuel coming into the tank, so your fat reserves start to get used up), and you can see how this method of intermittent fasting could give you a solid hit on weight loss. 

    It’s thought to be this metabolic shift that sets intermittent fasting apart from traditional daily calorie-restricted diets.[3] That said, there’s also evidence that suggests that intermittent fasting, while good for weight loss, isn’t any more effective than those traditional daily calorie-restricted diets.[4] 

    In the end, Eat Stop Eat is no better or worse at stimulating weight loss than any other intermittent fasting method. 

    So, in the absence of more research on Eat Stop Eat, we’d guide you back to the better-studied, more reliable, and safer-to-sustain intermittent fasting schedules, like 16:8 or 14:10

    Why not try our Simple quiz? It’ll help you gain some clarity on your goals, suggest a fasting schedule, and be the ping in your pocket that reminds you:

    • to start and stop your fast
    • to drink enough water
    • to log your food

    All the things you need to get into the fasting swing of things!

    Can you exercise on Eat Stop Eat?

    Exercising while on the Eat Stop Eat schedule is possible. That said, we’d encourage you to take care. 

    Alongside eating nutritious food, exercise is a wonderful way to maximize your intermittent fasting results.

    Just go steady as you work it in. 

    Train when you’re on an eating day so you’re able to replenish your energy, recover well, and satisfy any post-training hunger. 

    Skip the high-intensity stuff until you’re experienced at fasting and know how your body feels and responds to it. 

    And always drink plenty of water to keep yourself well hydrated.

    Eat Stop Eat results

    One way to get good results with intermittent fasting is to start small and work your way up, like Simple user Jessi did with time-restricted eating.

    Most of our users never even need to go to the full extent of Eat Stop Eat; in fact, Solana, another Simple user, got great results with 16:8:

    Intermittent fasting can be done in lots of ways, and we’re always going to recommend the schedules that cause less potential harm without compromising on potential gain(s).

    Health benefits and risks of Eat Stop Eat 

    Various studies show that intermittent fasting can have positive health effects. While some research explores Eat Stop Eat specifically,  most existing studies focus on time-restricted eating approaches (like 16:8), so more research is needed before we can say for sure what Eat Stop Eat offers. 

    There’s also not really any evidence to suggest Eat Stop Eat or other more restrictive fasting schedules get better results than less restrictive options.  

    So, let’s look at the benefits of intermittent fasting in general.

    Reduced inflammation

    Chronic inflammation puts you at greater risk for many serious health conditions. Intermittent fasting may improve some inflammatory markers and reduce that risk.[5] 

    Improved heart health

    Through lowering total and LDL cholesterol and reducing blood pressure levels, fasting can support your cardiovascular health.[5,6]

    Controlled blood sugar

    Research shows that fasting can be effective at reducing insulin resistance and improving glycemic control, helping people regulate blood sugar and reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.[7,8] 

    Hormonal changes

    Some studies show that intermittent fasting can create hormonal shifts that enhance our health, like reduced insulin, increased human growth hormone, and higher levels of norepinephrine.[9,10] Women with PCOS may also see beneficial hormonal changes.[11]

    It’s not all roses, though. Eat Stop Eat comes with its fair share of drawbacks and concerns to be aware of. Risks of Eat Stop Eat include: 


    Because vegetables and fruits make up a significant portion of your daily water intake, fasting for 24 hours puts you at a higher risk for dehydration, especially if you are very active. 


    Ideally, you need 25–38 g of fiber a day.[12] Hitting your fiber goals can be a challenge when you’ve got a reduced eating window, and fasting for 24 hours could increase your risk of constipation. 

    All the more reason to get more high-nutrition foods in your belly! Eating plenty of whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and fruits will help you stay regular. 

    Disordered eating

    Long-term fasting can trigger unhelpful eating habits in some people. 

    Stay checked in with yourself and your body, and notice if your fasting schedule triggers any eating behaviors that don’t feel good. If it does, reduce your fast or take a break from fasting altogether.

    Nutrient deficiencies

    With such a long fasting period, some people — especially those with high energy demands — may find it extremely difficult to meet all their nutritional needs on Eat Stop Eat, which can lead to them becoming deficient in important nutrients.

    Hormonal changes

    Intermittent fasting and hormones have a complex relationship. 

    On the one hand, intermittent fasting can cause some beneficial hormonal shifts, as we’ve seen. 

    On the other hand, fasting can disrupt hormones. For instance, some women may experience increased stress, mood swings, or irregular periods if they fast too often, and intermittent fasting in men can cause a decrease in testosterone.[11]

    The initial rough patch 

    When you first start out with Eat Stop Eat, it might make you feel like a surly, cantankerous, bad-tempered old prune.

    You may also feel more tired and dizzier than usual, your head might ache, and, of course, you’ll feel hungry. Probably quite hungry. 

    All this should pass, so don’t sweat it too much. It’s just important you know it’s coming.

    Is the Eat Stop Eat fasting method safe?

    While intermittent fasting is generally safe for most people, we don’t recommend Eat Stop Eat (or any period of fasting or limited eating that lasts 18+ hours). 

    There are some people who should be particularly cautious about any kind of fasting approach — especially one as restrictive as Eat Stop Eat — without medical approval and supervision. 

    That includes people who:  

    • have a health condition, like diabetes or anemia
    • are pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to conceive
    • take medications (especially those that affect blood glucose or blood pressure levels or need to be taken with food)
    • have an eating disorder or a history of one
    • have a BMI less than 18.5
    • are extremely active
    • are under 18 or 80 years old or older

    For everybody else, make sure you’re aware of the risks and have a chat with your doctor about what might be right for you before you make any changes to your eating habits.

    Pros and cons of Eat Stop Eat 

    You control what you eat 24 hour fasts are loooong
    No calorie counting Comes with health risks
    May help weight / fat loss Fast days are zero calorie
    Could improve health No guarantee of results


    With Eat Stop Eat, you retain creative control: Your fasting schedule and your food intake are yours to shape in line with your goals and lifestyle. There are no rules except those YOU wish to follow. You don’t have to break out My Fitness Pal and track every calorie you eat. 

    It’s an approach that can lead to weight loss and fat loss, and it may improve your metabolic health, reducing your risk of various health conditions by reducing your blood pressure or decreasing inflammation in your body. 


    Food is a big part of our lives, so a 24-hour fast may clash with your family life, social life, workouts, or work. 0-kcal fasts are tough, and hunger will likely be quite the challenge, at least initially. 

    Not to mention longer fasts = increased potential risk of side effects like dehydration and malnourishment. Eat Stop Eat takes some careful management to ensure you get all the nutrition and hydration you need.  

    The freedom from rules, while in many ways liberating, can also be hard work. Oftentimes, we don’t know what to eat or how best to approach building healthy habits. That’s why your healthcare team is a good first point of call (and you’ve got us to help, too). 

    Is the Eat Stop Eat diet right for you?

    Whatever intermittent fasting schedule you choose, you want to make sure that it makes YOU feel good. So, if the Eat Stop Eat schedule helps you crush your health goals, go for it!

    If you feel a sense of kinship with the idea of two days a week when you don’t have to worry about food, and you feel like you could make a good go of hitting all your nutritional bases on the other five days, Eat Stop Eat could be your intermittent fasting go-to. In that case, make sure to get the green light from your doctor before even revving your engine. 

    However, we don’t recommend such an extreme fast (or any fast or period of limited calorie intake that lasts 18+ hours). You’ve probably heard us loud and clear on that by now! 

    Luckily, there are other fasting approaches we do recommend, and they fall under the time-restricted eating category. Whether you’re trying 12-hour intermittent fasting, 14:10 intermittent fasting, or 16:8 intermittent fasting, these approaches contain eating windows every day (12 hours, 10 hours, and 8 hours, respectively), so they’re much easier to manage in terms of your physical, mental, and emotional health.

    Other fasting schedules you may encounter (all of which fall into our “don’t try without approval from your healthcare team” list because they involve some pretty hefty fasting conditions) include: 

    • 5:2 fasting. The unofficial baby brother of Eat Stop Eat, 5:2 fasting is similar in structure with 2 fast days and 5 eating days, but fast days include 500/600 calories. 
    • Alternate-day fasting. If 5:2 is the baby brother, alternate-day fasting is the big daddy. Imagine Eat Stop Eat but on repeat throughout the week, like eat-stop-eat-stop-eat-stop, etc., and 500/600 calories on fasting days. 
    • Warrior Diet. This intermittent fasting method is a 20-hour fast with a 4-hour eating window, and the Warrior Diet is a daily affair. 
    • Water fasting. Water fasting involves drinking only water for 24 to 72 hours.

    Simple’s expert opinion and final thoughts

    To be completely honest, we prefer and recommend intermittent fasting schedules that have shorter fasting windows, like 16:8, over Eat Stop Eat. 

    It’s easier to support your body’s nutritional needs when you don’t have to muscle your way through a 24-hour period on zero calories. And there’s no real evidence that fasting for 24 hours is any more effective, so why work harder than you have to, with an increased risk to health? 

    If you’re new to intermittent fasting, we certainly recommend you don’t start here. Instead, hit up our Simple quiz. We’ll help you navigate the complex world of fasting and get set up with a schedule that suits you. 

    If you’ve been fasting for a while and are curious to see what this schedule feels like, well, now you’re informed. If you decide to explore Eat Stop Eat, start by talking to your doctor to see if this schedule might be a good step for you. 

    Frequently asked questions about the Eat Stop Eat diet

    How long you should do Eat Stop Eat depends on how you respond to this intermittent fasting schedule.

    If your body and mind feel good and you’re getting the results you want, keep going. If you don’t feel great, stop and try a different approach.

    Yes, you can drink during Eat Stop Eat, just as you can drink during any intermittent fasting schedule. When you’re fasting, stick to water, black coffee, and tea without milk or sugar.

    How much weight you can lose on Eat Stop Eat will depend on how you take action to support your weight loss process. Intermittent fasting is only one piece of the puzzle in terms of results. If you’re curious about how to improve your results, check out these ideas on how to burn fat effectively.

    Eat Stop Eat is not the same as alternate-day fasting (ADF). ADF is fasting literally every other day, which adds up to three or four fasts per week. Eat Stop Eat requires just two fasts per week.
    Nope, Eat Stop Eat is not a daily fasting schedule. Over the period of a week, you complete two 24-hour fasts — on non-consecutive days — and the other five days, you eat.

    Look no further: we have all the information you need on the most common intermittent fasting mistakes right here, including how to swerve some of the dietary effects you might experience.

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