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Disclaimer: Intermittent fasting is considered a controversial topic by some AND depending on your health may not be a good idea- so you are responsible for checking with your doctor or medical professional before doing this. I am not a medical professional and the following are just my opinions based on my own experience and the research that I've done. There are quite a few books that expound on both the history and proof of the efficacy of fasting and I firmly believe in it's use, when done the right way, myself.
Length of Your Fast
I used to follow Brad Pilon's method for fasting in Eat Stop Eat, which is to fast 18-24 hours, twice a week. These days I only fast here and there when needed, sometime once a month, sometimes only once every few months, and if things get out of a hand a bit, I might go back to once a week for a month.
I have personally found that 18-20 hours fast for a woman seems to be the limit.
While he does his for a full 24 hours typically and lots of men do this just fine, I find that doing a full 24 hour fast as a woman, at least a leaner woman, is a bit too difficult. Mine end up being more like 18-20 hours. Beyond the 20 hour point I start to feel pretty hungry and distracted and it's just that level where I feel like probably it's now a strain on my body vs. a help, if that makes sense.
So all my fasts are usually between 18-20 hours. And remember, don't panic about these or freak out if you are feeling hungry at 5 and you wanted to fast till 6 and your fast ends up being 17 hours - don't feel like Awww man now I totally didn't achieve anything. No way Jose. You fasted 17 hours and there is still great benefits in that. 1 hour hasn't changed that. That said, I find it's actually pretty easy to "distract" myself for an extra hour at a time when I'm tempted to break my fast early- it could be as simple as saying, hey I'm going to do the dishes first, read to my son for 20 minutes, and check my email, then I'll eat. Before you know it, a whole hour has gone by. So that's my little strategy there for extending things a bit sometimes.
Remember the whole point is to help your body respond and there's a balance between pushing it a LITTLE to get some results vs. pushing it so hard that it rebels for it's own self preservation.