36-Hour Fast: The Original Monk Fast Guide

Monk Fast
Monk Fast

Fasting each afternoon, traditional Buddhist monks will go to sleep without dinner, saying that this improves their focus and meditation.

The Monk Fast (36-hour fast) is an efficient fasting schedule. The 36-hour schedule makes it possible to maintain a prolonged fasting state for 18-36 hours – while the body’s most effective at fat burning.

What is a 36-Hour Fast?

The Monk Fast is continuous fast. The regimen consists of prolonged water fasting, which involves consuming zero calories, allowing just calorie-free beverages.

  • The Monk Fast does not allow calorie consumption during extended fasting.
  • Drinking water, black coffee, tea, and other non-caloric drinks will be permitted during this fasting period.
  • Vitamin supplements, coconut oil supplements, and nootropics are allowed. 
  • Extended intermittent fasting periods are one of the best ways to cleanse the body and lose weight quickly.

What is the Schedule?

What is intermittent fasting
A common 36 hour fasting schedule begins the fast after an evening meal on Monday, fasting all day Tuesday, and ending the fast Wednesday with a light breakfast.
  • The first day (e.g., Monday) ends with a typical dinner.
  • Fast the entire next day (e.g., Tuesday).
  • Break the fast after 36 hours on Day 3 (e.g., Wednesday).

Afterwards, enjoy a breakfast that may contain healthy fats, protein, nuts, fruits, or vegetables.

This fasting schedule, lasting just two days a week, promotes discipline while being sustainable. The fast is often repeated once per week.

36 Hour Fasting Benefits

Fasting Brain Power

Numerous regimens similar to the monk fast have scientific research supporting their benefits.1

When 36 hour fasting, the body goes through stages we know causes:

  • Burn excess fat, reduce body weight, and promote fat loss.
  • Preserve muscle mass.2
  • Increase synaptic activity in the brain.
  • Improve short-term cognitive ability (Mental clarity, improved focus).
  • Achieve noticeably higher energy levels.
  • Reduce inflammation.
  • Improve blood sugar management.
  • Normalize and lower blood sugar levels.
  • Reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • Reduce blood pressure levels by reducing calorie intake and strain on the heart and blood vessels.

For 36-hours, the body has time to reset and heal without food intake. During this time, you may notice a reduction in body fat. Many individuals claim to have lost significant weight. Long-lasting health benefits such as a reduction in body fat and weight loss occur as the body uses its energy to heal, repair, and reduce body fat. The risks of heart disease, heart failure, and high blood pressure have also decreased.3

Studies have also shown that calorie restriction may delay and reverse animal aging.4 However, it’s important to note that these studies were done on animals, not humans. So, it’s not clear if the same results would be seen in people.

Monk fasting brings many benefits alongside improved body composition and better health.

Will a 36-Hour Fast Activate Ketosis?

  • Yes, calorie restriction to the point of inducing ketosis occurs within 36 hours.
  • Once there are no more carbohydrates from food consumption, the body enters a period of 12-20 hours of ketosis after 16-20 hours of extended fasting.
  • Ketones also play an essential role in our brain, encouraging neuron survival, growth, and neural plasticity. A study found that our body’s ketone levels double around 15 hours into a fast.5

Will a 36-Hour Fast Induce Autophagy?

Autophagy is thought to be triggered by increased ketone levels associated with an extended fast. While 36 hours is undoubtedly an extended fast, one study found that it takes up to 48 hours of fasting to achieve the maximum autophagic or dynamic process of autophagy in some mice.6

How Does 36-Hour Fasting Work?

36-Hour Fast Engaged

The liver has ~100g of glycogen stores, typically depleted after 16-24 hours of calorie deficit. Research suggests that the effectiveness of the Monk Diet is due to the interaction between glucose and glycogen.7 Glucose is the primary source of energy for the body. Glycolysis is the body using glucose or sugar as an energy source. Glycogen is how the body stores carbohydrates from foods like bread, cereal, and noodles.5

Ketone bodies prevent the breakdown of muscle protein during the fast.6

What to Expect Before, During, and After Your 36-Hour Fast

  • Before your intermittent fast, it is normal to feel some anxiety. 
  • During the first few hours of the fast, individuals may feel hungry as the body adjusts to less food. 
  • After 12 hours, it is common to notice a reduction in hunger as the body enters a state of fasting.8
  • Drinking plenty of water and avoiding strenuous activity is crucial.
  • Light exercise is okay, but anything that gets the heart rate too high will consume the glycogen stored in the liver and muscles.
  • Once the tight ends, it is vital to break the fast gradually. Start with a light meal, such as soup or salad, before moving on to heavier foods.
  • Individuals may notice increased energy levels and mental clarity.9
  • If you start feeling dizzy or unusually weak, this may be a sign of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).10

8 Tips For a Successful 36-Hour Fast

Fasting Schedule
  1. Choose days that do not interfere with social obligations. We recommend a Monday dinner, then fasting Tuesday into a Wednesday morning breakfast. 
  2. Stay hydrated. Be prepared to drink more water than usual because most of our water consumption comes from food.
  3. Stay warm. A lot of WeFast members have felt chillier than usual on fast days. Lower body temperature means the short is working as the body is starting to conserve energy.
  4. We recommend drinking zero-calorie coffee or tea to make the fast more palatable.
  5. It is common to feel hunger pangs. Hunger pains occur because the mind is accustomed to eating as a habit. Avoiding succumbing to eating is a mental challenge, and the best way to prevent them is to keep the mind busy
  6. Nootropics and caffeine are helpful as well to maintain productivity and focus through a fast. Caffeine also serves as a mild appetite suppressant to reduce hunger cravings.
  7. Allocate tasks that need higher cognitive function later in the day when entering the extended fasting state for a more significant benefit.
  8. Plan the meal to break the 36-hour intermittent fast in advance.

How to Break a 36 Hour Fast?

Knowing how to break a fast gradually is essential because overeating will cause you to regain body weight.

Before breaking your fast, make sure to drink some water. After 36 hours, the body is going to be very insulin sensitive. When breaking a fast, remember that your body’s stomach has shrunk. A light meal or snack such as soup, salad, or fruit is best. Avoid processed foods, sugary drinks, and high-fat foods. 

What Happens to Gut Bacteria After Breaking an Extended Fast?

Breaking a fast replenishes and restores gut bacteria. While digestive activity slows down, good bacteria regrows and flourish.

Taking care of your gut health is essential when breaking a lengthy fast. Breaking a fast properly by slowly reintroducing food into the diet helps ensure that gut bacteria levels are restored to their pre-fast state.

The Second Brain - Trust Your Gut

Drinking bone broth will help the digestive system. The gelatin contained within bone broth also helps repair the gut’s mucosal layer, which breaks down during longer fasts. Bone broth also contains amino acids, including glycine, which supports healthy insulin levels during a fast.

Is Fasting Once a Week Effective?

Fasting once a week is often incredibly effective. In one study, while alternate-day fasting, a focus group had elevated levels of ketones even during off-days. 7 What this means is that the benefits of elevated ketones persist for days. Fasting for 36 hours once a week gives the body the time it needs to break down and recycle old cells, stay healthy, promote weight loss, and protect against disease.

Is Fasting Multiple Times Per Week Healthy?

Although it’s not recommended for beginners, some people have entered a monk-fast multiple times per week. Before changing your diet, always listen to your body and speak with a healthcare professional.

Will a 36-Hour Fast Cause Weight Loss?

It’s common to lose about half a pound of body fat during an extended fasting period. If you exercise while fasting, you will lose more weight than just fasting alone.

Will A 36-Hour Fast Reduce Belly Fat?

A 36-hour intermittent fast is great for losing belly fat. Fasting promotes production of the human growth hormone levels (HGH), which promote fat burning. HGH is very effective when you want to burn visceral fat, the fat surrounding organs. 

Is It Safe to 36-Hour Fast While Weight Lifting?

Extended fasting helps increase focus and concentration during weight lifting. However, it is best to stick to lighter weights and higher reps while fasting. It is essential to take more breaks and drink more water than usual.

Does a 36-Hour Fast Affect Women Differently Than Men? 

Studies on this subject are small and not well-designed. If you’re considering extended fasting, talk to your doctor first, especially if you have any health concerns.

How Does the 36-Hour Fasting Method Compare to Other Fasts?

This fast is a great way to get started with intermittent fasting. This fasting method is also great for breaking a weight loss plateau. If you do not see results from your current diet and exercise routine, this fast may be what you need to jumpstart your weight loss. Monk fasting is not too challenging while still being long enough to benefit from autophagy, ketosis, and increased insulin sensitivity.

Compared to other intermittent fasting methods such as the 5:2 diet or the Warrior Diet, The Monk Fast diet is often considered easier to follow. If 36 hours sounds too long, consider another intermittent fasting method as you build up to it. 

24 Hour-Fast vs. 36-Hour fast

Extended fasting promotes weight loss, improves insulin sensitivity, and reduces inflammation. The main difference is that the 36-hour schedule includes a more extended fasting period. A longer fast is more likely to trigger ketosis and increased fat burning. The 24-hour fast may be a better place to start if you’re new to intermittent fasting. Once you are comfortable with this method, try 36 hours and see how your body responds.

48-Hour Fast vs. 36-Hour Fast

Both fasts offer similar benefits, such as weight loss and insulin sensitivity improvements. However, the 36-hour fast is a shorter, more manageable version of the 48-hour fast. A monk fast offers similar benefits but is less likely to have adverse side effects, such as feeling weak or lightheaded.

OMAD vs. 36-Hour Fast

The OMAD diet (one meal a day) is a form of intermittent fasting similar to many extended fasting methods. If you want to eat more frequently than once every 36 hours, you may choose OMAD. For faster weight loss and breaking through plateaus, you may prefer the 36-hour fast.

Final Thoughts on Monk Fasting for 36 Hours

A 36 hour extended fasting schedule offers health benefits and cognitive improvements. 2 1/2 day fasting may be worth your time if you’re looking to promote weight loss or refresh your body’s cells, but getting there can be difficult. Always talk with your doctor before changing your diet or fasting.

When making a medical decision, always consult a physician, medical practitioner, or other medical expert for diagnosing, treating, curing, or preventing any disease. This article is for informational purposes only and should not be substituted for medical advice or medical intervention.

  2. Very-low-carbohydrate diets and preservation of muscle mass
  3. Intermittent Fasting Lifestyle and Incidence of Heart Failure and Myocardial Infarction in Cardiac Catheterization Patients
  4. Alternate Day Fasting Improves Physiological and Molecular Markers of Aging in Healthy, Non-obese Humans
  5. Analysis of energy restriction and physical activity on brain function: the part of ketone body and brain-derived neurotrophic factor
  6. Methods for Measuring Autophagy in Mice
  7. Fundamentals of Glycogen Metabolism for Coaches and Athletes
  8. Effect of time restricted eating on body weight and fasting glucose in participants with obesity: results of a randomized, controlled, virtual clinical trial
  9. Intermittent fasting, energy balance and associated health outcomes in adults: study protocol for a randomised controlled trial
  10. Hearing Loss, Dizziness, and Carbohydrate Metabolism
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