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Types of Intermittent Fasting: How to Intermittent Fast

Intermittent fasting is not exactly a diet, but an eating pattern of fasts and feasts. With all the various types of intermittent fasting, how do you choose? Learning what each entails can help you decide which might fit best in your lifestyle!

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Fasting diets have become highly popularized in the health world. However, types of intermittent fasting (IF) are not exactly diets, but rather various eating patterns that includes periods of fasts and feasts.

Nonetheless, becoming a follower of the eating pattern has shown to bare numerous health benefits. The benefits of intermittent fasting include significant weight loss and improvements in cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

But with all the various types of intermittent fasting, how is one to choose? Learning how fasting works and which might fit best with personal lifestyles and schedules.

Types of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating that focuses on not exactly what to eat, but when to eat. Fasting and feasting with intent means consuming calorie intake during a specific window of the day and choosing not to eat food for the remainder.

From the 12-Hour Fast to the Warrior Diet, the types of intermittent fasting are numerous. Despite coming with various sets of directions, each may surface similar benefits of intermittent fasting.

1. The 12-Hour Fast

The Basis: Fast for 12 hours, feast for the remaining 12 hours in a day

Followers simply fast for half the day and feast for other 12-hour remainder. The hours are flexible, as one can eat from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Or really, however else the eating pattern fits into a lifestyle.

Also considering one sleep (or should be sleeping) seven to nine of those 12 hours, this form of IF is relatively simple to follow.

Ultimately, the 12-Hour Fast is recommended to be a good start for intermittent fasting newbies.

2. The 5:2 Plan or Fast Diet

The Basis: Fast for two days, feast during the other five days of the week

Also known as The Fast Diet, the 5:2 method of intermittent fasting was popularized by Michael Mosley. The form of intermittent fasting "involves restricting your calorie consumption to 25 percent of your energy (calorie) needs, two days a week, and eating normally the rest of the time," according to the official "The 5:2 Diet Book."

Put simply and as the name suggests, five days of the week are normal eating days. The other two restricts calories to 500 to 600 per day. Most people split the two fasting days apart (i.e. Monday and Wednesday, Tuesday and Thursday, etc.) to soften hunger pangs from a two-day fast.

3. Alternate-Day Fasting

The Basis: Fast every other day, feast for the days in between

Also known as Up Day/Down Day, alternate-day fasting (ADF) suggests fasting every other day. On the feasting days, one can eat whatever is desired.

There has been a bounty of evidence showing ADF is powerful weight loss method, including reducing body fat and inflammation in the body. Furthermore, ADF has shown to be effective at preserving muscle mass compared to daily calorie restriction.

Followers might also modify this form of IF plan, which includes consuming 500 calories on fasting days. This is considered much more sustainable than doing full fasts on fasting days whilst indicating to be still effective.

4. Leangains or 16:8

The Basis: Fast for 16 hours of the day, feast the remaining 8-hour window

Touted as the "birthplace of intermittent fasting," Leangains was founded as Martin Berkhan, who is also known as "the Khan, godfather or high priest of intermittent fasting."

Leangains encourages to eat all of daily calories in an 8-hour window and fast the other 16 hours of the day. Furthermore, "Leangains is specifically tailored to fitness and strength training, and for those wanting to get as lean and strong as possible. In comparison to other intermittent fasting based diets much more emphasis is put on proper pre- and post-workout nutrition."

The rest of the diet’s recommendations are orthodox gym advice, including eat higher protein food and eat more calories on training days and fewer calories on off days.

5. Eat Stop Eat

The Basis: Fast for 24 hours once or twice per week, feast on the others

The official Eat Stop Eat webpage encourages to "think along the lines of using Eat Stop Eat as a LONG TERM strategy to get lean quickly, and as a way to STAY lean."

According to the official webpage, this type of intermittent fasting is "designed so you can fast for 24 hours once or twice a week, while still never going a day without eating."

For instance, if finishing dinner on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m., the next meal would not be until 7:00 p.m. on Thursday. One could also eat breakfast then fast until the next, or lunch-to-lunch, etc. Despite the eating schedule, the end result proves to be the same.

Whereas some fasts allow some solid foods during fasts, including produce and a low amount of lean proteins, water, coffee and other non-caloric beverages are only allowed.

6. The Warrior Diet

The Basis: Fast for about 20 hours each day and feast for the remaining four

Founded by Ori Hofmekler, the Warrior Diet might not be for beginners… The warriors fast for about 20 hours every day and eat one large meal at night, though fasting allows small amounts of whole vegetables, fruits, and protein sources.

The Warrior Diet also is based similarly to the tenants of the Paleo diet, particularly by sticking to whole foods such as meats, poultry, fish, vegetables and whole grains.

7. Spontaneous Meal Skipping

The Basis: Skip meals spontaneously, or randomly

This type of fasting is not exactly structured, but a loose eating pattern one does not have to follow to a T. What’s more, there are still anticipated benefits its followers can reap.

In spontaneous meal skipping, simply omit meals from sporadically. Such random fasts may include perhaps not feeling hungry or are too busy.

This form of fasting also reinforces the importance of listening to hunger and satiety cues and lowers the risk of impulsivity and temptation when it comes to food.

How to Intermittent Fast

Interested to see what all the hype is about? If intrigued and ready to start a first fast, here are some tips to ease to start an intermittent fasting journey:

1. Most methods of intermittent fasting are considered to be safe. However, always consult with a primary care provider before starting any sort of diet or eating regimen. This is especially important if managing a medical condition such as diabetes. A Registered Dietitian can also make sure nutrient needs are being met.

2. Stay hydrated to make fasting periods much easier to get through. Sugar-free tea, black coffee, and herbal teas are also viable options. Easy tips to drink more water daily include using larger cups, making them convenient, using water enhances, and ordering water when eating out.

3. Eating fruits and veggies throughout fasting days can help lessen hunger pains. However, this is not recommended in all programs. Water can come in handy in these sorts of instances.

4. Intermittent fasts do not harp on the type of food, but rather meal timing. However, continue nourishing the body with nutrient-dense foods. Not only can doing so yield greater weight loss results, but is recommended for overall health.

5. Use the night time as an advantage during fast days. Sleep takes place during at least eight of those hours, which makes it easier to fast and deter cravings.

6. Keep busy and try to not place fasting times and days when likely to be sitting down wanting to snack. If itching for a snack while watching TV or working at a desk, try sipping on water or chewing a piece of gum.

7. Diet and exercise work hand-in-hand so continue making it to the gym. Also, strategically allot eating and workout times to ensure and optimize pre- and post-workout fuel and recovery.

8. Remember, and as they say, it takes 21 days to make a habit. So, give it a try for at least three weeks before throwing in the towel. The longer practicing this sort of lifestyle, the easier it will become.

9. Progress and transition as desired. This may include easing into longer fasting periods, going from the 12-Hour Fast to the 16:8 fasting method. Ultimately, implement eating patterns and strategies that work best for personal lifestyle and schedule.

Written By Christy Zagarella, MS, RDN. Published on August 07, 2018. Updated on April 24, 2019.

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