Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is especially popular in the keto community because it helps you burn through stored glycogen stores quickly. That means getting into ketosis faster.
The biggest benefit of intermittent fasting is getting the physiological benefits of calorie restriction without actually starving yourself.
When you get into a groove with IF, youll naturally eat fewer calories, experience fewer cravings, and get all the benefits of fasting.
Who Should Not Start Intermittent Fasting At All
There are a number of people who should not try intermittent fasting or should speak with a health professional before starting. These people include:
- People who have sleep problems
- People who have or have had eating disorders because intermittent fasting promotes dietary restrictions
- Anyone who engages in intensive physical activity
- People with digestive problems
- Anyone with a job that requires deep focus and concentration
- People who have diabetes
Types Of Fasting Diets Explained: Which Is Best For You
Fasting has quickly become the hottest trend in the health and fitness world. Its easy to see why with a laundry list of health benefits like weight loss, longevity, cancer prevention, and more.
Feeling the pull to try fasting but a bit overwhelmed? I feel you. With so many types of fasting diets out there, its tough to know where to start. This article will delve into four popular fasting diets so you can choose the right fit for you.
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The Warrior Diet Allows You To Consume Certain Fruits And Vegetables During The Fasting Period
“With the warrior diet, a person may consume fruits, vegetables, and liquids with zero calories for 20 hours each day,” Yule explained.
Those observing this diet are allowed to eat a large meal in the evening, she said. And although she suggested that this diet puts a little more focus on diet quality, she did acknowledge that it is not sustainable for many people over time.
Choosing A Time Window
To get started, begin by picking an 8-hour window and limiting your food intake to that time span.
Popular 16/8 time windows include:
- 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.
- 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Many people prefer to eat between noon and 8 p.m., since you need to fast only overnight and skip breakfast but can still eat a balanced lunch and dinner, along with a few snacks throughout the day.
Others opt to eat between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., which allows plenty of time for a healthy breakfast around 9 a.m., a standard lunch around noon, and a light, early dinner or large snack around 4:30 p.m. before starting your fast.
However, you can experiment and pick the time frame that best fits your schedule.
It may help to set timers at both the beginning and the end of your eating window to remind you when to start and stop eating.
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How To Get Started
Intermittent fasting doesnt have to be difficult. In fact, it shouldnt be difficult at all!
All you have to do is allow more time between your meals. This can be as simple as stopping dinner at 7pm and not eating anything until 7am. That is a 12-hour fast. While a 12-hour fast hasnt been studied in experimental trials, it logically seems like the first place to start with time-restricted eating stop the after-dinner snacks.
The most common fasting or time-restricted eating regimens are as follows:
- 16:8. This means fasting for 16 hours and eating for 8 hours. For example, finish dinner at 7pm and have your first meal the next day at 11am. There are many other variations of this such as 14:10, 18:6, and 20:4.
- OMAD: This stands for one meal a day. As it sounds, this simply means eating only one meal for the entire day with no snacking. You can learn more about OMAD in our dedicated guide, What you need to know about OMAD.
- Alternate-Day Fasting : Finish dinner at 7pm Monday, dont eat anything all day Tuesday, and have your first meal at breakfast or lunch on Wednesday. Thats an alternate-day fast. Read more about ADF here.
- 5:2. Eat normally for five days during the weak and fast or eat very low calories two days of the week. The two days do not have to be consecutive days.
How Does It Work
There are several effective approaches, but it all comes down to personal preference. If you want to give intermittent fasting a try, be prepared to figure out what works best for you, says Taylor. It might take some trial and error first.
Some people find it easy to fast for 16 hours and confine meals to just eight hours of the day, such as 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., while others have a hard time and need to shorten their fasting window, explains Taylor.
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How To Do Alternate
Alternate-day fasting is an intermittent fasting approach.
The basic idea is that you fast on one day and then eat what you want the next day.
This way you only need to restrict what you eat half of the time.
On fasting days, youre allowed to drink as many calorie-free beverages as you like. Examples include:
- unsweetened coffee
If youre following a modified ADF approach, youre also allowed to eat about 500 calories on fasting days, or 2025% of your energy requirements .
The most popular version of this diet is called The Every Other Day Diet by Dr. Krista Varady, who has conducted most of the studies on ADF.
The health and weight loss benefits seem to be the same regardless of whether the fasting-day calories are consumed at lunch or dinner, or as small meals throughout the day .
Some people may find that alternate day fasting is easier to stick to than other types of diets.
However, a yearlong study found that adherence when following alternate day fasting was not superior to everyday calorie restriction .
Most of the studies on alternate-day fasting used the modified version, with 500 calories on fasting days. This is considered much more sustainable than doing full fasts on fasting days, but its just as effective.
In this article, the terms alternate-day fasting or ADF generally apply to the modified approach with about 500 calories on fasting days.
Risks And Side Effects
Why might intermittent fasting be bad for some people? Its not intended for people with eating disorders, women who are pregnant or those who already have low body weight.
When taken too far, it can potentially cause side effects such as:
- increased hunger
- trouble sleeping
If you suffer from low blood sugar, for example, going without eating all day may lead to dangerous side effects due to a drop in blood sugar causing symptoms like shakiness, heart palpitations and fatigue. If you have diabetes, its best to work with your doctor to determine if intermittent fasting is right for you.
If you have a history of eating disorders, this is also not a good tool for you as it may encourage unhealthy behaviors and trigger symptoms. If you are a child or teenager and still growing, intermittent fasting is not recommended either.
Among those who have gallstone disease, fasting may actually increase the risk of gallbladder problems and should be avoided.
Finally, studies show that fasting may alter levels of your thyroid hormones. If you suffer from any thyroid issues, you may want to reconsider intermittent fasting to avoid alterations in these important hormones.
Those who are sick may also want to reconsider fasting as it can deprive your body of the steady stream of nutrients that it needs to heal and get better.
Intuitive Intermittent Fasting Or Spontaneous Meal Skipping
Many people enjoy intermittent fasting but donât want to adhere to a set eating schedule. Thatâs totally fine! After all, the most important thing is to have regular eating breaks and not to have them at the same time each day.
A more intuitive approach to intermittent fasting is common among people who have practiced intermittent fasting for a while and got used to this way of eating.
The idea behind intuitive intermittent fasting is to eat only when you are really hungry, and to eat until you are full. When itâs time to eat, but you donât feel hungry, you spontaneously skip a meal.
When you start experimenting with intermittent fasting, the intuitive version also helps you find the intermittent fasting method that suits you best. You can test how long you can go without food without feeling cranky and find out at what times of the day fasting is easiest.
Might Go Against Your Intuition
Intermittent fasting requires discipline, restraint, and planning ahead.
For some people, using those tactics to keep your calorie intake within a designated time frame is no problem, but for others, it might feel unnatural at first. This may be especially true if youre used to relying on your intuition to decide when to eat.
Further, if you prefer not to follow a strict schedule, you might find intermittent fasting frustrating.
Whats more, if your schedule tends to vary from day to day because of work, family, or other obligations, keeping your calorie intake to a designated time frame could be challenging.
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Tempers Blood Pressure And Fluid Balance
Blood pressure tends to fall during the fasting state, primarily during the first week of fasting. This effect seems to result from a lower salt intake and a detoxification of accumulated salt through the urine. Since excess sodium causes your body to retain water, lower sodium levels lead to better fluid balance in your tissues.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Work
There are several different ways to do intermittent fasting, but they are all based on choosing regular time periods to eat and fast. For instance, you might try eating only during an eight-hour period each day and fast for the remainder. Or you might choose to eat only one meal a day two days a week. There are many different intermittent fasting schedules.
Mattson says that after hours without food, the body exhausts its sugar stores and starts burning fat. He refers to this as metabolic switching.
Intermittent fasting contrasts with the normal eating pattern for most Americans, who eat throughout their waking hours, Mattson says. If someone is eating three meals a day, plus snacks, and theyre not exercising, then every time they eat, theyre running on those calories and not burning their fat stores.
Intermittent fasting works by prolonging the period when your body has burned through the calories consumed during your last meal and begins burning fat.
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Seven Ways To Do Intermittent Fasting
There are many different ways of intermittent fasting. The methods vary in the number of fast days and the calorie allowances.
Intermittent fasting involves entirely or partially abstaining from eating for a set amount of time, before eating regularly again.
Some studies suggest that this way of eating may offer benefits such as fat loss, better health, and increased longevity. Proponents claim that an intermittent fasting program is easier to maintain than traditional, calorie-controlled diets.
Each persons experience of intermittent fasting is individual, and different styles will suit different people.
In this article, we discuss the research behind the most popular types of intermittent fasting and provide tips on how to maintain this type of diet.
There are various methods of intermittent fasting, and people will prefer different styles. Read on to find out about seven different ways to do intermittent fasting.
What Is Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting.
It does not say anything about which foods to eat, but rather when you should eat them.
There are several different intermittent fasting methods, all of which split the day or week into eating periods and fasting periods.
Most people already fast every day, while they sleep. Intermittent fasting can be as simple as extending that fast a little longer.
You can do this by skipping breakfast, eating your first meal at noon and your last meal at 8 pm.
Then youre technically fasting for 16 hours every day, and restricting your eating to an 8-hour eating window. This is the most popular form of intermittent fasting, known as the 16/8 method.
Despite what you may think, intermittent fasting is actually fairly easy to do. Many people report feeling better and having more energy during a fast.
Hunger is usually not that big of an issue, although it can be a problem in the beginning, while your body is getting used to not eating for extended periods of time.
Some forms of intermittent fasting allow small amounts of low-calorie foods during the fasting period.
Taking supplements is generally allowed while fasting, as long as there are no calories in them.
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Fasting For Two Days A Week
There is limited research into the 5:2 diet , also known as the Fast Diet.
During the two days of fasting, men are expected to consume around 600 calories while women consume about 500 calories.
Different kinds of fasting. Typically, people separate their fasting days in the week. For example, they may fast on a Monday and Thursday and normally eat on the other days. There should be at least one non-fasting day between fasting days.
There is limited research on the 5:2 diet, which is also known as the Fast Diet. A study by involving 107 overweight or obese women found restricting calories twice weekly, and continuous calorie restriction both led to similar weight loss levels.
However, one of the main benefits was that insulin levels showed a significant decrease which helps individuals lose weight.
Is It Also Good For People Who Are Within A Normal Weight Range
ADF is not only beneficial for weight loss, but it can also offer health benefits for those who dont have obesity.
A 3-week study analyzed individuals with average weight following a strict ADF diet with zero calories on fasting days.
The researchers found that it resulted in increased fat burning, decreased fasting insulin, and a 4% decrease in fat mass .
However, hunger levels remained quite high throughout the study.
They speculated whether a modified ADF diet with one small meal on fasting days might be more tolerable for people who dont have obesity.
Another controlled study involved individuals with overweight and average weight.
It showed that following an ADF diet for 12 weeks reduced fat mass and produced favorable changes in risk factors for heart disease .
That said, ADF generally provides much fewer calories than you need to maintain weight, which is the reason you ultimately lose weight.
If youre not looking to lose weight or fat mass, or have average weight to begin with, other dietary methods will probably suit you better.
Alternate-day fasting increases fat burning and reduces risk factors for heart disease in people with average weight.
Theres no general rule regarding what you should eat or drink on fasting days, except that your total calorie intake shouldnt exceed around 500 calories.
Its best to drink low calorie or calorie-free drinks on fasting days, such as:
Here are a few examples of meals that are suitable for fasting days:
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Intermittent Fasting 1: 8 Vs 1: 6
When comparing the intermittent fasting 16:8 vs. 18:6, it is clear that for those who are new to such an eating approach, the 16:8 fasting may be better, as it has a bigger eating window. Both these types require that you dont eat anything during your fasting period, and both have similar benefits. So, you can choose either of them, depending on how busy your day usually is and how well you can manage your time.
So Which Intermittent Fasting Schedule Is Best For Weight Loss Whichever One You’ll Actually Stick To Tbh
In short, the one that’s easiest for you to follow. “It is all about sustainability for the individual,” says Lemein. “If one of these diets work well for you and your lifestyle and preferences, then you will likely see some success. If not, then you’ll likely not see the results you’re are looking for, as the sustainability piece will not be there.” That means picking a diet that work best with all the lifestyle factors you need to consider, like your work schedule, family dynamic, living situation, commute time, and travel commitments, notes Lemein.
It’s worth pointing out, though, that the 16:8 diet seems to be the most doable for a lot of people who are into IF. The 16:8 method also scores points for preventing overeating at night, which can often be a big obstacle for weight loss. And sticking to an eight-hour eating window during daylight hours allows your metabolism to run as itâs supposed toâyou fuel up for energy during the day , and stop eating for rest and recovery at night, per a 2017 article in the journal Nutrition Reviews.
The bottom line: All intermittent fasting schedules may lead to weight loss if you can follow them sustainably, and the 16:8 method may be the easiest way to follow an IF diet.
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Popular Types Of Fasting Diets
Now that you understand the health benefits fasting can deliver, lets break down some different types of fasting diets:
1. Water Fasting
Water fasting is arguably the most intense of all fasting diets. As its name implies, this diet restricts all food, only allowing water. Water fasting is typically done for 24-72 hours. People water fast for all kinds of reasons including:
- Religious or spiritual reasons
- Health benefits
Studies have linked water fasting with lowering risks of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. However, water fasting is not for the faint of heart and can be risky if done for too long or without medical supervision.
For water fasting, you have to drink more water than on non-fasting days. Thats because usually, part of your daily hydration comes from the water content in foods. During water fasts, aim for two to three liters of water a day.
Water fasting can lead to weakness or dizziness, so its best done when you have some downtime to rest. Also, dont go hog wild post-fast. Your body needs time to readjust to food, so break your fast with some easily digestible food like a smoothie or light meal. Overeating just after your fast can lead to refeeding syndrome, which can cause rapid changes in fluid and electrolyte levels.
2. Juice Fasting
Juice fasts are a simple way to flood your body with loads of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients while giving your digestive system a break. But there are some downsides.