Intermittent Fasting [Best Methods, The Benefits + The Dangers]
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting (alternatively called intermittent eating) is making a conscious decision to skip some meals/calories and eat other meals/calories based on a particular schedule.
It entails going long periods of time (usually within 14 and 36 hours) eating low to no calories (sometimes).
It’s been shown to be an easy way to lose weight for some, and the benefits it offers are worth it in the end.
There are many intermittent fasting methods.
This article gives an analysis of some of these methods to help you determine which is right for you and will teach you how to intermittent fast.
It also points out the possible dangers as well as the benefits of intermittent eating.
How to Intermittent Fast (Find the Right Method for You)
Here are some standard methods on how to intermittent fast. Each fasting technique has its own rules regarding how long the fast should last and what to eat when feeding. Taking advantage of any of these methods will be beneficial. Each method will yield different results for different sets of people. These methods include intermittent fasting for women and men. See methods below to find the one that is right for you:
1. 16/8 Method
The most popular method is the 16/8 method. You fast 16 hours and have an 8 hour eating window. Eating healthy during this time is recommended (of course).
You can choose your fasting hours to fit your own schedule. The best way to do this is around your sleeping schedule.
Let’s say you get the recommended 8 hours of sleep a night. There is 8 hours of prime fasting time. Now just add 8 hours to that. What’s recommended is you add have before you sleep and the other half when you wake up. So you have a schedule like the one in the picture below.
Adjust the intermittent fasting schedule below to fit your needs.
2. Eat Stop Eat
This method is ideal for healthy eaters who are in need of an extra boost.
Eat stop Eat works correctly and involves fasting for a full 24 hours, once or twice each week. During the fasting period, which is often referred to as the 24 break from eating; food isn’t consumed, but you can take calorie-free beverages (water and tea are best).
Eat Stop Eat is essentially fasting once a week for weight loss.
After finishing the fast, go back to consuming your meals normally for best results.
When not fasting, you should still rely on moderation when it comes to foods that aren’t “healthy”. They are allowed, but in moderation. A piece of cake is OK, rather than eating a few pieces or even the whole cake!
But if you can, skip the cake and grab a healthy sweet food like a piece of fruit.
It is paramount that you incorporate regular exercises, mainly resistance workouts, to achieve success on this plan – especially if weight loss or better body composition are your goals.
If you find it hard to not eat for a full 24 hours you can start out by doing a shorter amount of time at first – like say 16-20 hours fast. Do what you can at first, and each week try to go longer until you reach the 24 hours fasting time.
This is a popular method of intermittent eating in that it’s fairly easy to do – on the days you’re not fasting you don’t have to worry about calories or what you’re eating.
Click Here to learn more about Eat Stop Eat!
3. The 5:2 Diet
This is one of the most popular fasting methods. The name says it all. For 5 days you eat normally, not worrying about calories or anything. Then on the other 2 days you restrict your calories to 500 for women and 600 for men each day.
On the fast day you might find it difficult, but just be sure to spread the food out as best as you can and eat low-calorie foods like veggies so you can actually eat a good amount. Veggies are usually low in calorie.
For example, 2 cups of salad greens is usually under 40 calories! You can add other veggies and make a huge salad for very low calories. This will fill you up!
If you’re eating high-calorie foods like fried foods or fatty foods, the calories are going to add up quickly. So it’s all about being aware of what you’re eating on these days and if you don’t want to feel deprived, stick to low-calorie foods.
Soups are also really good on fasting days because they can help make you feel full, especially soups with lots of broth.
You can choose any 2 days to fast on – it really doesn’t matter which days you choose, but you should have at least 1 non-fasting day between the fast days (in other words you shouldn’t do the fast days 2 days in a row).
Although the method says you can eat “normally” on the days you aren’t fasting, I’d like to point out that if you’re binging on bad foods, fatty foods, or junk foods – this might hinder the results you’re looking for.
You might not lose weight and in fact, you might even gain weight. It’s recommended you follow a fairly clean eating diet on the off days and get yourself into a habit of eating healthy. This will help you in the long run to reach your goals.
4. The Warrior Diet
The warrior diet is another very effective method of intermittent eating and is best for those who are devoted to following rules.
Warriors-in-training involves fasting for at least 20 hours per day and eating one large meal at night. The philosophy is based on feeding your body the nutrients needed to sync with circadian rhythms.
It builds on the idea that humans are nocturnal eaters and been programmed to eat at night.
The fasting phase of this technique, on the other hand, is more about under eating.
When on the fast, you’re allowed a few servings of fruit or vegetables, fresh juice, and few servings of protein.
The four-hour eating window commonly referred to as the “overeating phase” is always at night – so essentially a “dinner” meal. During the four hours, the way in which you consume specific food groups matters.
It’s suggested you start with your vegetables, lean proteins and fats – then add carbs if you feel the need to eat more food.
Eating at night maximizes the Parasympathetic Nervous System which aids in easy digestion, relaxation and helps the body with growth and renewal.
There is a book for The Warrior Diet, if you’re interested, check it out here.
Similar to 16/8 method. This technique is best for people who are dedicated to visiting the gym so as to lose body fat and develop muscle.
It involves fasting for 14 hours for women and 16 hours for men respectively each day and eating for the eight to ten hours remaining.
It’s been found that fasting during the night (or during your sleeping schedule – depending on what kind of daily schedule you have) is best, and then breaking the fast a few hours after waking.
Avoid consuming calories when fasting. Black coffee, and calorie-free sweeteners, with sugar-free gum and diet soda, are ok. Water is also great!
What to eat and when to eat when feeding starts depends on when your workout schedule.
Healthy carbohydrates are vital when you are exercising. For the remaining days, healthy fat intake should increase. Protein consumption has to be high every day. Unprocessed foods (clean eating) should be your main source of calories.
If you’re truly interested in this type of fasting technique, I highly suggest reading up more about it here.
6. Fat Loss Forever
Fat loss forever is ideal for people who love going to the gym and like cheat days.
If you are not totally satisfied with the other fasting methods listed in this article, maybe you’ll truly like this one.
Fat Loss Forever takes the best of eat stop eat, warrior diet and leangains – combining them into a single plan.
You are entitled to a cheat day every week followed by the 36-hour fast. After that, the remaining of the seven-day routine must be split between the other fasting protocols.
It is suggested that you save the longest fasts for the days you are busiest, allowing you to be more focused on being productive and avoiding potential hunger.
When you have a day off you’re more likely to mess up your fast as it’s easier when you’re home or have access to food you shouldn’t eat. So do these on a day you’re busiest.
The plan also includes other training programs (including bodyweight and free weights exercises) to help participants achieve maximum fat loss in an easy way.
Benefits of Intermittent Eating
The following are some of the benefits of intermittent fasting:
- Proper regulation of insulin levels in the body facilitating fat burning in the process.
- Growth hormone levels increase up to 5x which in turn encourages fat burning and muscle building.
- The body induces very important cellular repair processes such as removing waste from the cells.
- There are beneficial changes in some genes and molecules that relate to longevity and disease prevention.
- It can help you effectively lose body weight and belly fat.
- Many do Intermittent fasting for weight loss. Note that it is even more effective with losing weight when it’s combined with exercise – cardio and strength training.
Dangers of Intermittent Fasting
It is important to note that intermittent fasting is not recommended for each and every person. You must keep in mind that it also has its drawbacks despite the many amazing benefits it offers. Some dangers include:
- Poor sleep.
- Muscle loss.
- Rebound binge eating – overeating when off the fast because of intense cravings for food after being deprived of it. This is a bad habit to gain.
- You get less nutrients and minerals than when on a normal diet.
- Heartburn – see a doctor if it doesn’t go away after 5-6 weeks.
- Headaches – drink plenty of water during a fast, this might help with headaches.
- Diarrhea – caused by high intake of liquids (water/coffee/tea)
- Can effect female hormones. In turn can cause acne or obsessing over body image.
As you can see there are many types of fasting. The method you choose must be selected sensibly. Intermittent fasting isn’t for everyone.
Keep in mind the intermittent fasting pros and cons for best results.
People with health conditions should check with their doctor/healthcare provider before changing their regular eating routine.
Note that personal goals or lifestyle changes are the key factors to keep in mind when choosing a method.
If you have any of the following, you might want to reconsider intermittent fasting or talk with your doctor about it first:
- low blood pressure
- have problems regulating your blood sugar
- take medications
- are underweight
- are pregnant or breastfeeding
- are trying to conceive
- are a female with a history of amenorrhea
- have a history of eating disorders