Intermittent fasting has grown in popularity in the last few years.
There have been many claims made about its benefits including weight loss, improvement of metabolic health and increased lifespan.
As with any health trend these days, people have come up with different types and methods of intermittent fasting.
The question of which method to follow is a matter of which one fits each person’s needs. Each method can be very effective if done right.
Here is an overview of 6 methods of intermittent fasting.
1. The 16/8 Method: 16 hours of fasting per day
This method is easy to follow. You avoid eating for 16 hours during a 24-hour period. You consume all the food for the day within an 8-hour window.
This means eating 2 to 3 meals within that 8-hour window.
A fitness fanatic called Martin Berkhan was the man that really made this method popular. This method is also referred to as the Leangains protocol.
This is an easy intermittent fasting diet to follow. It can be as simple as not eating anything between dinner and lunch the next day. So, this means skipping breakfast each day.
In practice, let’s assume you eat dinner at 8 pm. If your next meal is at noon the next day, then you’ve fasted for 16 hours.
Women are generally advised to only fast for 14 to 15 hours per day. This shorter fasting period has been shown to be more effective for women.
It can be a difficult method to go onto if you are someone used to eating in the morning. Some people get very hungry in the morning and will find it hard to skip breakfast. It will take some time for your body to adjust to not eating breakfast but after a while it becomes easy.
You can consume very low-calorie drinks such as water and coffee to help ease you into the new routine.
This type of intermittent fasting only works with healthy food. If you consume a lot of calories during the 8-hour eating window, you will gain weight.
In my opinion, this method is the best way to do intermittent fasting. It feels more “natural” than the other methods. Personally, this is the way I eat anyway, and it isn’t hard to do once you get through the initial phase.
I recently went on a low-carb diet with plenty of protein in my meals. This has significantly suppressed my appetite, so I find it very easy to skip breakfast.
Please note that breakfast is an important meal. Skipping it is not recommended for everyone. Some of us can get through the day and perform our duties well without breakfast, but there are others who simply can’t skip it. So, if breakfast essential for you, you should pick another intermittent fasting diet plan.
Conclusion: 16/8 is an effective fasting method with men fasting up to 16 hours and women up to 15 hours per day. Whatever meal (healthy meals) you eat should be consumed within an 8-hour window.
2. The 5:2 Fasting Diet: 5 days regular eating and 2 days of intermittent fasting
With the 5:2 intermittent fasting diet program, you eat as you normally do for 5 days of the week and go on limited-calorie diets for the other 2 days. You will consume 500 to 600 calories on these days.
The 5:2 diet is often referred to as the “Fast diet.” It was trusted into the mainstream by the UK doctor, Michael Mosley.
Women should consume about 500 calories, and men 600 calories of food on the two limited-calorie days.
You’ll typically eat two small meals on the fasting days. Although there’s been no scientific studies on the 5:2 system, there’s plenty of studies that suggest intermittent fasting helps with weight loss.
Conclusion: The 5:2 fasting diet is effective for weight loss. Eat as you normally do for five days and limit the number of calories consumed to 500 – 600 calories on the two other days.
3. The Eat-Stop-Eat Method: One or Two 24-hour Fasts Each Week
The Eat-Stop-Eat fasting diet involves fasting for a 24-hour period, one or two times in a week.
This system was brought into the mainstream by the fitness expert Brad Pilon. It has grown in popularity in the past couple of years.
This system avoids eating any meals between two dinners. However, you can do it whichever way you prefer. It could be from lunch to lunch, dinner to dinner or breakfast to breakfast. The goal is to avoid eating for 24 hours.
You can consume beverages with zero calories, such as water, during this period.
One downside to this intermittent fasting system is that it can be very difficult to get going. Many people will find it difficult to go without food for 24 hours.
In the beginning, you can pace yourself. Maybe start with 14 hours, then move towards the 24-hour period until you are comfortable doing it.
I personally tried it and noticed that the intense hunger you feel during fasting (especially during the later hours), typically goes away after a short while. You just have to soldier through it.
To lose weight in the right manner, ensure that you consume food as you normally would on the non-fasting days.
Conclusion: The Eat-Stop-Eat intermittent fasting diet involves fasting for one or two 24-hour periods each week.
4. Alternate-Day Fasting: The Eat-Fast-Eat-Fast Method
With this method, you fast every other day.
You eat as you normally do one day and limit your calorie intake the next day. This continues during the entire period of intermittent fasting.
There are many variations of this method. Some recommend limiting the number of calories to a total of 500 on the days you fast.
Some of the tests on the effectiveness of intermittent fasting used variations of this method.
This is an extreme method of intermittent fasting that requires followers to fast for 24 hours every other day. This can be brutal and not recommended for everyone.
Many people will find it difficult to follow this system over a long period. But if you can follow it, it is a very effective way to lose weight.
5. The Warrior Fasting Diet: Day Fasting, Night Eating
As the title suggests, this method avoids eating during the day and eating one large meal at night time. All the meal you consume should be within a 4-hour window at night.
You can consume small portions of vegetables and fruits during the day.
This system was made popular by the Israeli fitness expert, Ori Hofmekler.
This fasting diet was one of the earliest well-known diets to incorporate intermittent fasting.
This diet recommends eating meals similar to the popular Paleo diet. This type of diet encourages eating whole, unprocessed foods.
This method is easier to follow than the Eat-Stop-Eat and Alternate Day methods.
Conclusion: This method an easier way to intermittent fast. Eat small portions of fruits and vegetables during the day and one large mail during the night.
6. Sporadic Skipping of Meals
You can consider this the free-wheeling of intermittent fasting diets. There isn’t really a set rule. You can simply skip meals when it’s convenient for you.
For example, you can decide to skip lunch, skip breakfast, skip dinner, skip two meals, etc.
Sometimes, you just simply skip food when you are not that hungry. It is not true that you actually need to eat three square meals or you’ll go into “starvation mode” and lose muscle.
Our body is designed to deal with extended periods of famine. It can, certainly, handle a few hours without eating.
You just have to remember to eat healthy foods when not fasting.
Conclusion: I don’t think you can really call this intermittent fasting but it is closest to traditional eating. It allows you to skip a meal or two when you feel up to it. This makes it more natural.
Many are reaping the benefits of these methods.
Having said that, intermittent fasting is not the best way to lose weight and is not for everyone. If you eat healthy diets in good proportions, there’ll be no need to go on a fasting diet.
Also, I should stress that I don’t believe this to be a long-term strategy of keeping weight off. Once you use this strategy to get to your desired weight, you should stop it and go on a regular, healthy meal plan.
Healthy eating is also key in getting these methods to work. You can’t feast on junk food after breaking fast and expect to lose weight.
If you are interested in going on an intermittent fasting diet, you should read this:
The complete beginner’s guide to intermittent fasting.