Updated: Jan 19, 2022
Does sleeping count as fasting when you're using Intermittent Fasting? When calculating your new Intermittent Fasting schedule, whether it be 12:12, 14:10, 16:8 or 20:4, you're probably wondering where sleep comes into play. Today, I'm breaking down exactly what you need to know about sleeping and Intermittent Fasting!
Does Sleeping Count As Fasting?
While Intermittent Fasting, sleeping does count as fasting. While you sleep, you're not consuming any food or drinks, so you're actually in a completely fasted state. If you're new to Intermittent Fasting and you're starting off with a 12 hour fast and you finish your last meal at 8pm, you would go to sleep and start eating the next day at 8am. If you have a 16 hour fast with that same 8pm end time, you would start eating at 12pm. As long as you are not eating anything after your dinner or in the middle of the night, sleeping will count toward your fasting period.
Pssst - wondering what type of fasting is best for your goals? Click below for my free Intermittent Fasting Schedule quiz to find out!
What Happens When You Fast?
One of the main perks with Intermittent Fasting is the fact that it allows the fat storing hormone insulin to naturally dip back down during the fasted state.(1) This is likely why Intermittent Fasting has been found to primarily burn fat as a fuel source.(1) Which, if you're looking to achieve a weight loss goal, is exactly what you want. You don't want to be burning muscle.
In addition to the reduced insulin, Intermittent Fasting can also stimulate the gut healing and cleaning process called the Migrating Motor Complex or MMC.(2) The MMC is only stimulated while not eating (aka fasting!) for at least 3 hours and 45 minutes. During this time, the MMC initiates a series of contractions and secretions from the stomach through the large intestine to clean out left behind food and bacteria. As soon as food or a calorie containing drink is consumed, the MMC is turned off. If the MMC isn't allowed to do it's job then this can lead to bloating and perhaps even small intestine bacterial overgrowth, aka SIBO.(3) Intermittent Fasting naturally allows the MMC to turn on and therefore can help with the gut cleaning process.
Intermittent Fasting has also been found to have muscle protective perks by naturally boosting growth hormone.(4) Paired with the fact that Intermittent Fasting has been found to specifically burn fat as fuel, this combination allows you to protect your muscles while working toward a fat loss goal.
How Long Should You Fast?
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting have been found at many different lengths of fasting, even as short as a 12 hour fast. When determining how long you should fast, it's important to remember that longer isn't always better. In fact, for some people, longer fasts can actually work against weight loss and wellness goals.
You can take my free Intermittent Fasting Quiz below to help determine how long you should fast for your wellness goals.
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Autumn Elle Nutrition