So you want to try intermittent fasting, but all the information out there is so overwhelming! How on earth are you supposed to decide which intermittent fasting type is right for you?
Here’s what you need to know to choose the best type of fasting schedule for your lifestyle and health goals so you can start losing weight and reaping all the health benefits now.
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Intermittent Fasting Benefits
Intermittent fasting can be a simple way to improve your health in so many ways. When I started researching IF, I was so impressed that I wrote a whole article on the benefits of fasting. Briefly, intermittent fasting has multiple health benefits that are backed up by science, like:
- Weight loss and maintenance
- Increased energy
- Better brain function
- Regulated blood sugar and insulin levels
- Increased mental clarity and focus
- Reduced inflammation
- Increased metabolism
- Reduced LDL cholesterol, cardiovascular disease and cancer risk
Intermittent Fasting Results
Whichever type of intermittent fasting you choose, you can get great results if you remember a few key things:
- Don’t give up too soon. It takes time for your body to adjust to a new way of eating.
- Eat a healthy range of foods during your eating window
- Only consume coffee, tea
andwater during your fasting window
- Make sure you’re drinking enough water throughout your fasting period
Take a look at the different types of intermittent fasting below along with the intermittent fasting pros and cons for each type to decide which is best for you
The 12-hour fast is the easiest form of intermittent fasting to those completely new to fasting. Simply fast every 12 hours.
So if you eat dinner at 7pm don’t eat again until 7am. Essentially, this means you don’t eat anything after dinner.
This is a great method to try if you have a problem with evening snacking.
This method can be a good starting point to get used to longer fasts.
It’s also a way to give your digestive system a break without snacking after dinner. You may find you start sleeping better once you go to bed without having a belly full of evening snacks.
You won’t burn as much fat with this method. Since it typically takes 8-10 hours after a meal to get to a fasted state, you won’t be in that fat burning mode for more than a couple of hours.
16/8 Intermittent Fasting
This is the kind of fasting I personally do and it’s easily the most popular of all the types of intermittent fasting.
Simply put, it combines a 16-hour fasting window with an 8-hour eating window. This type of fasting is listed lots of different ways, but they all mean the same thing:
- 16/8 Intermittent Fasting
- 16:8 Intermittent Fasting
- 16 8 fasting
- 8-hour diet
Because you can set up your schedule so that you are sleeping for a good percentage of your fasting window, this type of intermittent fasting fits into most people’s lifestyles.
There are two popular ways to do 16/8 fasting:
- Stop eating after dinner, go to sleep, skip breakfast and start eating again midday.
- Skip dinner, go to sleep, start eating again at breakfast.
It doesn’t matter when you fast or eat – it just matters that you are sticking to the 16/8 ratio. So you can set up your fasting and eating windows to be what works best for your individual lifestyle.
Women can start reaping the benefits of IF with a 14-15 hour fasting window.
If you are a breakfast skipper, like me, you’ll find that that this type of intermittent fasting is almost effortless.
If you’ve never fasted before, it can be hard to go 16 hours without eating.
5: 2 Diet (The Fast Diet)
The 5:2 Diet involves eating normally for 5 days a week, and restricting calories to 500-600 the other two days.
This method is different from other types of fasting in that while you are drastically reducing your calories two days of the week, you aren’t actually fasting for any specific period.
There is no distinct fasting period to get used to. This might be a good way to lean into a full-fledged fast if you are an IF newbie.
While 500-600 calories isn’t a lot, you could spread them out so you wouldn’t be hungry all day.
With the 5:2 Diet, you do need to count and track calories for the days you are eating and this can be a pain.
Eat Stop Eat (24-hour fast)
The Eat-Stop-Eat method was popularized by Brad Pilon and involves doing a 24 hour fast once or twice a week.
With this 24-hour fast, you fast from dinner to dinner, lunch to lunch or breakfast to breakfast. So you are essentially skipping two meals with this method.
This method can be convenient to use if you know you’ll be having a super busy day with no time to stop and eat, or if you’re traveling.
It’s not recommended to do this type of fasting more than twice per week.
This plan requires more self-discipline to finish the full 24 hours. Be ready to be ravenously hungry by the time of your next meal!
Crescendo fasting is a modified approach to fasting that is sometimes recommended as a method of intermittent fasting for women.
This method of fasting requires you to fast a few days a week, spaced out at least a day apart.
This is the type of fasting I personally do along with the 16/8 method.
This method can help you ease into intermittent fasting because it doesn’t require you to fast every day.
The fasting window is designed to be better for women and their hormones with a fasting window of 12-16 hours.
You might not lost weight as quickly as the other intermittent fasting methods.
Warrior Diet (20-hour fast)
The Warrior Diet is a way of eating that alternates between extended fasting periods and windows of what seems like overeating.
Interestingly, this diet was created by a former member of the Israeli Special Forces, Ori Hofmekler, who based the plan on the eating patterns of ancient warriors, who would battle all day, and feast at night.
If you want to try this diet, you basically eat very little for a 20 hour period. During this period, you can eat small amounts of dairy, eggs
Studies have shown that people who eat just one meal per day had significantly reduced fat mass and increased muscle mass.
This type of intermittent fasting may be for you if you lead a super hectic lifestyle and just don’t have time to sit down for multiple meals in a day.
This extreme form of intermittent fasting can be very difficult to stick to. Trying the Warrior Diet may make it hard to participate in normal social activities, particularly those that involve going out to eat.
This type of intermittent fasting is not appropriate for people who have had troubles with eating disorders since it encourages binging during the eating window.
Alternate Day Fasting
Alternate day fasting isn’t a particular intermittent fasting plan as much as it is a way to schedule other IF methods so they alternate with a day of normal eating.
For this plan, you choose the 16/8, the 12-hour or the 20-hour fast (Warrior method). Then, using your chosen plan, you fast only every other day.
If you aren’t ready to commit to a full intermittent fasting schedule, this can make your IF schedule a bit more manageable and easier to sustain.
This plan may take longer to see health benefits since you are only getting your body into a fasting state every other day.
Intermittent Fasting for Keto
If you have hopped on the Keto Diet bandwagon, this special 3-day type of intermittent fasting is for you. This method was designed to boost your transition into ketosis, or fat-burning mode.
This method was developed by Tim Ferriss and is not for the faint of heart because it involves fasting for 3 days. You can read about his 3-day plan here.
This method is a bit more complicated, but if you’re motivated enough to be doing the Keto diet that won’t scare you off. It can be a great kick-start if you have tried some other IF schedules and want to break through a weight loss plateau.
This method gets you into ketosis quickly. Because you stay in ketosis for several day, you can achieve faster fat loss, and increased cell regeneration.
Fasting for several days in a row can be hard. You have to be able to plan ahead and be ready for some really low energy days.
Time Restricted Eating
Time restricted eating or time restricted feeding refers to when eating is limited to a certain number of hours a day. This is basically an alternate name for the umbrella term intermittent fasting.
Time restricted eating has the same health benefits as IF including weight loss, lower blood sugar levels and better heart health.
The drawbacks will vary depending upon which type of IF you choose.
Intermittent Fasting Types Summary
Intermittent fasting, while full of amazing health benefits, is not for everyone so don’t be surprised if you have to try several different kinds to find the right method for you.
Remember that even if you are in your eating window, you have to eat healthy as well. You can’t out-fast a bad diet. Calories and the quality of the calories still count.
But, if you’re looking for a relatively painless way to improve your health and lose weight, intermittent fasting can be just the ticket to achieving your health goals.