The concept of intermittent fasting has taken the health and wellness world by storm.
Early research suggests that periodic, short-term fasting practices could be a simple but effective way to shed unwanted weight and improve metabolic health.
There are multiple ways to add an intermittent fasting protocol to your routine. One method that’s becoming increasingly popular is known as Eat Stop Eat.
This article reviews everything you need to know about the Eat Stop Eat diet, including how to follow it, whether it’s effective for weight loss, and possible drawbacks to consider.
Eat Stop Eat is a unique approach to intermittent fasting that’s characterized by the inclusion of up to 2 nonconsecutive (spaced apart) fasting days per week.
It was developed by Brad Pilon, author of the popular and aptly titled book “Eat Stop Eat.”
Pilon was inspired to write this book after researching the effects of short-term fasting on metabolic health at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada (
According to Pilon, the Eat Stop Eat method isn’t your typical weight loss diet. Instead, it’s a way to reevaluate what you have been previously taught about meal timing and frequency and how that relates to your health (
How it’s done
Implementing the Eat Stop Eat diet is relatively straightforward.
You simply choose 1 day or 2 nonconsecutive days per week during which you abstain from eating for a full 24-hour period. This period of not eating is called fasting.
For the remaining 5–6 days of the week you can eat freely, but it’s recommended that you make balanced food choices and avoid consuming more than your body needs.
Though it seems counterintuitive, you will still eat something on each calendar day of the week when using the Eat Stop Eat method.
For instance, if you’re fasting from 9 a.m. Tuesday until 9 a.m. Wednesday, you’ll make sure to eat a meal prior to 9 a.m. on Tuesday. Your next meal will occur after 9 a.m. on Wednesday. This way, you ensure you’re fasting for a full 24 hours — but not longer.
Keep in mind that even on fasting days of Eat Stop Eat, proper hydration is strongly encouraged.
Drinking plenty of water is the best choice, but you’re also allowed other types of calorie-free beverages, such as unsweetened or artificially sweetened coffee or tea.
- may support weight loss
- may improve certain aspects of metabolic health, such as blood pressure and blood sugar levels
- easy to understand and simple to follow
- does not require restricting certain foods
- not appropriate for some people, including those with low blood pressure, those with certain health conditions, pregnant people, children, and those with eating disorders
- could lead to extreme hunger, irritable mood, and fatigue
- requires going long periods without eating, which may not work for many people
Eat Stop Eat is popular among people looking for a simple, straightforward way to lose weight or improve other aspects of health without having to restrict foods or count calories.
Some people like the flexibility that the Eat Stop Eat method affords.
Unlike many other popular diets promoted for weight loss, the Eat Stop Eat method doesn’t require a person to cut out any foods or follow set macronutrient ranges.
The only “rules” of the program are abstaining from eating for a full 24 hours one or two nonconsecutive days per week.
Of course, a person following any dietary pattern should make an effort to consume mostly nutrient-dense, whole foods to support optimal health. However, a special diet isn’t required when following Eat Stop Eat.
Eat Stop Eat is a type of intermittent fasting diet in which you fast for 24 hours once or twice per week.
One of the main reasons people are implementing intermittent fasting diets like Eat Stop Eat is to encourage weight loss.
Though there are currently no studies specifically evaluating Eat Stop Eat for weight loss, mounting evidence suggests that the periodic, prolonged fasting that Eat Stop Eat employs may support weight loss efforts for some people (
The first — and perhaps most obvious — way that Eat Stop Eat may promote weight loss is through a calorie deficit.
It’s well understood that losing weight requires you to consume fewer calories than you burn (
When applied properly, Eat Stop Eat sets you up for 1–2 days’ worth of a calorie deficit each week. Over time, this reduction in your total calorie intake could result in weight loss as you burn more calories than you take in.
However, current evidence doesn’t indicate that restricting calories for an entire day at a time is any more effective for reducing weight than the continual daily calorie restriction that most traditional diets use (
Another way Eat Stop Eat could lead to weight loss is because of certain metabolic shifts that occur when your body is in a fasting state.
Carbs are one of the body’s preferred fuel sources. When you eat carbs, they’re broken down into a usable form of energy known as glucose.
After roughly 12–36 hours of fasting, most people will burn through the glucose they have stored in their liver and subsequently transition to using fat as their main energy source instead. As fats are used for energy, molecules called ketone bodies are produced. This leads to a metabolic state known as ketosis (
Early research suggests that because of this metabolic shift, prolonged fasting may favor fat use in a way that traditional dieting strategies cannot, which may help promote weight loss and improve body composition (
Still, data on this potential benefit is limited, and there seems to be significant variability in how quickly people transition into ketosis.
That’s why it’s unlikely that everyone will reach ketosis within the 24-hour fasting window used in the Eat Stop Eat diet.
More research is needed to better understand how metabolic changes that may occur on an Eat Stop Eat diet can influence fat reduction and overall weight loss efforts.
Eat Stop Eat may support weight loss through calorie reduction and changes in metabolism. However, results cannot be guaranteed for everyone.
The fasting practices of Eat Stop Eat are likely safe for most healthy adults. Yet you should consider potential downsides if you’re thinking of trying it out.
Insufficient nutrient intake
Certain people may have a difficult time meeting all of their nutrition needs on the Eat Stop Eat diet.
When it comes to dieting, it’s not uncommon for people to think of food in terms of calories alone. But food is much more than calories. It’s also an important source of vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial compounds that support your most vital bodily functions.
It’s essential for anyone following Eat Stop Eat to pay close attention to the foods they eat on their non-fasting days to ensure that they’re getting enough protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals throughout their diet.
If you have particularly high nutritional demands or currently have trouble eating enough food to meet your needs, removing 1–2 days’ worth of food could contribute to insufficient nutrient intake or unhealthy weight loss.
Low blood sugar
Some people use intermittent fasting diets like Eat Stop Eat to improve blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity (
Most healthy people have no difficulty maintaining blood sugar levels during the 24-hour fasting periods required on Eat Stop Eat, but that may not be the case for everyone.
For some people, such as those with diabetes, extended periods without food may contribute to dangerous blood sugar drops that could be life threatening.
What’s more, it’s important to be aware that blood-sugar-lowering medications may have to be adjusted on fasting days and blood sugar will have to be monitored more frequently to ensure it remains at a safe level.
This is why it’s critical to speak with your healthcare professional before trying intermittent fasting programs like Eat Stop Eat, especially if you’re taking medications (
Fasting practices implemented on the Eat Stop Eat diet may contribute to changes in metabolic and reproductive hormone production.
However, the specific health outcomes resulting from such hormonal changes are difficult to predict due to a lack of human research.
Some studies suggest that certain hormonal shifts may offer positive health benefits, such as improved fertility in certain women, while others show that fasting could negatively impact levels of specific hormones in men (
For example, a 2022 review of 7 studies found that intermittent fasting benefited women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) by improving levels of certain hormones like testosterone (
On the other hand, it was also linked to decreased testosterone levels in healthy men, which could negatively impact metabolic and sexual health (
Because of the mixed data and limited total evidence, Eat Stop Eat is not generally recommended for anyone who is pregnant, nursing, or trying to conceive.
However, current evidence suggests that intermittent fasting could benefit the hormonal health of specific populations, including women with PCOS who are interested in becoming pregnant (
Nonetheless, if you have a history of hormonal dysregulation, irregular periods, or amenorrhea, consult a healthcare professional prior to starting an Eat Stop Eat diet or any form of intermittent fasting.
Psychological impact of restrictive eating
While many people report feeling more dietary freedom when using fasting as a weight loss aid, the restrictive nature of such eating patterns could have a negative psychological impact.
Some research indicates that short-term fasting may lead to irritability, volatile moods, and reduced libido (
That said, proponents of intermittent fasting often say that mood issues resolve after you have become accustomed to your fasting routine — though these claims haven’t yet been proven.
However, a 2016 study that included 52 women found that although the women were more irritable after an 18-hour fast, they also experienced a higher sense of pride, achievement, and self-control at the end of the fasting period compared with the beginning (
It’s also important to mention that though well-designed, evidence-based weight loss diets are generally considered safe and are not linked to disordered eating, restrictive dieting practices may contribute to disordered eating behaviors, such as bingeing or obsessive thoughts about food and weight (
Because of this, Eat Stop Eat is not recommended for anyone with a history of disordered eating or a tendency toward developing these behaviors.
Though fasting is safe for most people with no underlying conditions, it may contribute to low blood sugar, insufficient nutrient intake, hormone shifts, and negative psychological effects.
At this point, there’s insufficient evidence to determine whether Eat Stop Eat is an effective weight loss method for everyone.
Studies have found various intermittent fasting strategies to be effective for achieving weight loss of up to 9.9% (
However, there’s immense variability in study designs, specific fasting protocols, and total weight loss, making it difficult to predict exact results for Eat Stop Eat (
Weight loss is a complex process that can be very unique to each individual and many factors beyond calorie intake and meal timing affect your ability to lose or gain weight (
Ultimately, more long-term research on Eat Stop Eat is needed to determine whether it’s any more effective than other approaches to weight loss.
Although early research suggests Eat Stop Eat may support weight loss, there’s currently not enough evidence to determine whether it’s an effective strategy for everyone.
According to Amazon reviews of the Eat Stop Eat book, customers are generally satisfied with their results after following the Eat Stop Eat program.
Customers seem to appreciate the flexibility and simplicity of the program. Some reviewers mentioned that they were able to lose a significant amount of weight and keep it off long-term without the need for restrictive dieting.
Aside from weight loss, some customers mention that following the Eat Stop Eat plan also improved symptoms like joint pain and helped decrease blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
However, others complain that the book is too simplistic and repetitive and not worth the price. Another common complaint is that the book lacks information on how to follow a healthy diet and what foods a person should eat when not fasting.
Most people who have purchased the Eat Stop Eat book seem to be satisfied and some claim to have achieved significant weight loss with the program. However, some complain that the book is repetitive and doesn’t offer enough advice on how to follow a healthy diet on non-fasting days.
How long should you do Eat Stop Eat?
In theory, a person could follow the Eat Stop Eat plan for as long as they want. It depends on how your body responds to this way of eating and whether or not it’s a safe and sustainable option for you.
While most healthy people may be able to abstain from eating for one day out of the week with no significant issues, others may find it too difficult or find that fasting for 24 hours makes them feel weak, irritable, or tired.
The length of time you should Follow Eat Stop Eat depends on your health goals and how you respond to this way of eating.
Is Eat Stop Eat sustainable?
Some people may feel that following the Eat Stop Eat plan is relatively simple and that fasting doesn’t negatively impact their mood or energy levels. People who respond well to fasting may be able to follow this way of eating for a long period of time.
Others may not like how going long periods without eating makes them feel. So, while some may be able to follow the Eat Stop Eat program long-term, it’s not a sustainable choice for others.
Also, keep in mind that it’s not necessary to engage in fasting in order to improve health or lose weight. If intermittent fasting isn’t working for you, there are many other ways to improve health and reach or maintain a moderate weight that don’t involve abstaining from calories for long periods of time (
Is Eat Stop Eat or 16/8 fasting better?
Eat Stop Eat is a type of intermittent fasting eating pattern.
It’s not necessarily “better” or “worse” than other types of intermittent fasting like the 16/8 method, a popular type of time-restricted eating that involves daily 16-hour fasts and eating within an 8-hour window.
However, there’s much more research on the potential health benefits of the 16/8 method compared to the Eat Stop Eat method, including its effectiveness for weight loss (
Also, keep in mind that while Eat Stop Eat requires that you fast for a full 24 hours, the 16/8 method utilizes a shorter fasting period of 16 hours, which may be more achievable and less intimidating for some people.
Eat Stop Eat is a popular form of intermittent fasting in which you fast for 24 hours once or twice per week.
Research on this particular eating pattern is limited, but it may support weight loss by way of reduced calorie intake and changes in metabolic function that favor fat loss.
However, no specific results can be guaranteed.
Though fasting is generally considered safe, it could have negative side effects, such as inadequate nutrient intake, low blood sugar, and the development of disordered eating patterns.
As always, consult a healthcare professional if you’re unsure whether Eat Stop Eat is an appropriate weight loss strategy for you.