One of the most popular diet trends, intermittent fasting involves alternating cycles of fasting and eating. Research has shown that it can help with weight loss, improve metabolic health, protect against certain diseases, and help you live longer.
There are five main methods of intermittent fasting. Each method will yield different results for different people, so choose a method that makes your life easier. Make sure to consider your lifestyle and personal goals when deciding on a fasting method.
This intermittent fasting method is ideal for those who want to lose body fat and build muscle. Leangains requires you to fast for 14 hours a day, and men for 16 hours, and then “feed” for eight to 10 hours. While fasting, you’re not allowed to consume any calories, but you can still consume black coffee, calorie-free sweeteners, diet soda, and sugar-free gum. Most people find it easiest to fast through the night into the morning, breaking the fast six hours after waking up. If you’re exercising that day, carbohydrates will be more important than fats. But on rest days, your fat intake should be higher. Make sure to eat lots of protein along with whole, unprocessed foods every day.
2. Stop Eat Stop
This intermittent fasting method is best for healthy eaters looking for an extra boost. You fast for 24 hours once or twice a week. During the 24 hour fasting period, you’re not allowed to eat food, but you can drink calorie-free beverages. Once the fast is over, you can go back to eating normally. Time your fast according to what works for you. The stop eat stop method allows you to reduce overall calorie intake without limiting what you’re able to eat. Be sure to incorporate regular workouts, especially resistance training.
3. The Warrior Diet
This intermittent fasting method is best for those who like rules. Expect to fast for 20 hours every day, and eat one large meal each night. However, what you eat and when you eat it is key. During the 20-hour fast, you are allowed to eat a few servings of raw fruits and vegetables, fresh juices, and protein. This is supposed to promote alertness, boost energy, and stimulate fat burning. The four-hour eating window, on the other hand, allows the body to use nutrients consumed for repair and growth. Eating at night also helps the body produce hormones and burn fat during the day. During the time you’re allowed to eat, the order in which you eat food groups matters. You’ll want to start with vegetables, move to protein, and end with fat. If you’re still hungry, you can then eat some carbohydrates.
4. Fat Loss Forever
This intermittent fasting method is best for those who love cheat days. This method combines parts of eat stop eat, the warrior diet, and leangains all into one. Here’s how it works. It allows you one cheat day per week followed by a 36-hour fast. After that, the rest of the seven-day cycle is divided up between the different fasting protocols.
5. Alternate Day Fasting
This intermittent fasting method is best for dieters with specific weight goals. The alternate day fasting approach is probably the easiest of them all. You eat very little one day, and then eat normally the next. On the low calorie days, you’re allowed to each 20% of your normal calorie intake. So if you usually consume 2,000 calories, you can eat 400 calories on the low-calorie days. On the low-calorie days, you should consider drinking meal replacement shakes that can provide your body with essential nutrients, and can be sipped throughout the day rather than split into small meals. The next day, eat as you normally would. If you work out, exercise on the days on which you eat a normal amount of calories.
The best thing about intermittent fasting is that it doesn’t restrict which kinds of foods you eat. I just restricts when you eat them. While no foods are allowed during the fasting period, you can still consume beverages like water, tea, and coffee.
- "5 Intermittent Fasting Methods: Which One Is Right for You?," Daily Burn, June 10, 2017.
- "6 Things That Happened When I Tried Intermittent Fasting For A Week," Prevention, December 29, 2016.
- "Intermittent Fasting 101 — the Ultimate Beginner's Guide," Healthline, June 4, 2017.
- "The Beginner’s Guide to Intermittent Fasting — 2017 Update," Nerd Fitness, June 2, 2017.