Intermittent fasting (IF) is being used to help people lose weight, improve their health, and simplify their lives. Many studies have proven that it has potent effects on your body and brain and may even help you live longer.
What Is Intermittent Fasting (IF)?
It is a type of eating pattern that alternates between fasting and eating periods. It does not specify which foods to eat but rather when to eat them. In this regard, it is more accurately described as an eating pattern rather than a diet in the traditional sense. Fasting has been practiced for so long. There were no supermarkets, refrigerators, or food available all year for ancient hunter-gatherers. They sometimes didn’t find anything to eat.
That’s why humans have evolved to be able to survive for extended periods without food. Fasting on occasion is more natural than eating 3–4 (or more) meals per day. Fasting is also commonly practiced for religious or spiritual reasons in Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Buddhism.
7. Fast for 12 hours a day
The diet’s guidelines are straightforward. Every day, a person must choose and follow a 12-hour fasting window. According to some researchers, fasting for 10–16 hours can cause the body to convert fat stores into energy, releasing ketones into the bloodstream. This should promote weight loss. For beginners, this type of intermittent fasting plan may be a good option. This is due to the fasting window being relatively small, much of the fasting occurring during sleep, and consuming the same number of calories each day.
The simplest way to complete the 12-hour fast is to include the time spent sleeping in the fasting window. A person could, for example, choose to fast between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. They’d have to finish their dinner before 7 p.m. and wait until 7 a.m. to eat breakfast, but they’d be sleeping for most of the time in between.
6. Fasting for 16 hours
The 16:8 method, known as the Leangains diet, involves fasting for 16 hours a day and eating for 8 hours. Men fast for 16 hours per day on the 16:8 diet, while women fast for 14 hours. This type of intermittent fasting may be beneficial for someone who has tried the 12-hour fast but has not seen any results.
On this fast, people typically finish their evening meal by 8 p.m., skip breakfast the next day, and do not eat more until noon. A study on mice discovered restricting the feeding window to 8 hours protected mice from obesity, diabetes, inflammation, and liver disease, even when they ate the same total number of calories as mice who ate whenever they wanted.
5. Fasting for two days a week
The 5:2 diet requires people to eat a standard amount of healthy food five days a week and reduce their calorie intake the other two days. Men typically consume 600 calories during the two fasting days, while women consume 500 calories.
People usually separate their fasting days throughout the week. They may, for example, fast on Mondays and Thursdays and normally eat on the other days. Between fasting days, there should be at least one non-fasting day. There has been little research on the 5:2 diet, also known as the Fast Diet. A study of 107 overweight women found that calorie restriction twice weekly and continuous calorie restriction resulted in similar weight loss.
The diet also reduced insulin levels and improved insulin sensitivity in the participants, according to the study. A small-scale study of 23 overweight women looked at the effects of this fasting style. The women lost 4.8% of their body weight and 8% of their total body fat in one menstrual cycle. However, after five days of normal eating, most of the women’s measurements returned to normal.
4. Alternate day fasting
Some people believe that alternate-day fasting requires complete abstinence from solid foods on fasting days, while others allow up to 500 calories. People frequently choose to eat as much as they want on feeding days. According to one study, alternate day fasting is beneficial for weight loss and heart health in healthy and overweight adults. Over 12 weeks, the 32 participants lost an average of 5.2 kilograms (kg), or slightly more than 11 pounds (lb).
Alternate day fasting is a more extreme form of intermittent fasting that may not be appropriate for beginners or people with certain medical conditions. It may also be challenging to maintain this fasting for an extended period.
3. A weekly 24-hour fast
Fasting entirely for one or two days each week, also known as the Eat-Stop-Eat diet, entails not eating for 24 hours at a time. Many people fast from one meal to the next or from one meal to the next. People on this diet plan can drink water, tea, and other calorie-free beverages during the fasting period. On non-fasting days, people should resume their regular eating habits. Eating in this way reduces a person’s total calorie intake but does not limit the specific foods consumed. A 24-hour fast can be difficult, causing fatigue, headaches, and irritability.
Many people find that as their bodies adjust to this new eating pattern, the effects become less severe. Before attempting the 24-hour fast, people may benefit from trying a 12-hour or 16-hour fast.
2. Meal skipping
This adaptable approach to intermittent fasting may be beneficial to beginners. It entails skipping meals on occasion. People can choose which meals to skip based on their hunger level or time constraints. However, it is critical to eat nutritious foods at each meal.
Meal skipping is most likely to be successful when people monitor and respond to their bodies’ hunger signals. People who follow this method of intermittent fasting will eat when they are hungry and skip meals when they are not.
For some people, this may feel more natural than the other fasting methods.
1. The Warrior Diet
The Warrior Diet entails eating very little during a 20-hour fasting window, usually just a few servings of raw fruit and vegetables, and then eating one large meal at night. The eating window is usually only 4 hours long. This type of fasting may be best for people who have already tried other types of intermittent fasting.
The Warrior Diet advocates argue that humans are natural nocturnal eaters and that eating at night allows the body to gain nutrients following its circadian rhythms. People should consume plenty of vegetables, proteins, and healthy fats during the 4-hour eating period. Carbohydrates should also be included.
It is possible to consume some foods during this fasting period; adhering to the strict guidelines on when and what to eat in the long run can be difficult. Besides, some people have difficulty eating such a large meal so close to bedtime. There is also the possibility that people following this diet will not consume enough nutrients, such as fiber. This raises the risk of cancer and harms digestive and immune health.