This is a complex question, and should be researched, taking into account your current health, your activities at work, sport, and play; your other obligations, such as family and social; and your goal, such as weight loss or bodily detoxification. Additionally, you should consult your physician or healthcare professional and discuss your particular health conditions. Your healthcare professional should be able to advise you about the duration of your fast based on his/her understanding of human physiology, your healthcare history, and a reasonable understanding of what stresses your particular body type can deal with.
Generally speaking, for a relatively healthy person, an initial introduction to the benefits of fasting through the exclusion of 1 meal per day twice or three times a day should cause no problems. Also, fasting for a 24 hour period once a week is a common practice for many people who practice fasting.
The duration of the fast is up to you, and whatever you decide, see your healthcare provider before you begin any sort of fasting regime.
Marshall your “support” network, and seek their support and understanding
Like any other task in life, a program of periodic fasting works best when the other important people in your life willingly support your efforts and provide needed encouragement. Before you begin a program of fasting, sit down with your significant other, children, and/or friends, and clearly explain to them what it is you are trying to accomplish via a fasting program. Once they understand that you are not planning on dropping out of society or joining a commune, but simply trying to hake a positive change in your health and physical condition, they will provide needed support. If you are overweight, it is very likely that you may receive more direct encouragement from other people than you ever expected! People look at self-help and personal improvement in their friends and loved ones as a positive and fruitful step in self-development.
One caution, however; their may be people who are threatened by your attempt at self-improvement, and they may actually try to discourage you from attempting to achieve your self-improvement goals. If the people surrounding you are all overweight, they may feel threatened by your sudden attempt to reduce your weight. They may feel that your achieving of this goal will threaten their relationship with you. All that you can do is reassure them that this is a personal endeavour, and that it will not cause a rift in your relationship. Be sincere in your concern about how those around you feel – you are ready to make the change, but they are not, and feel threatened by your new-found feeling of self-control. Be reassuring, and realize that as you succeed with your plan, they may begin to feel insecure with their lives. Be patient and be sincere. You need your support networks backing in order to more easily achieve your goals.