As intermittent fasting (IF) continues to grow in popularity, so are the methods of how to carry it out effectively. Each person and each body is different, so there are several methods to choose from to maximise the health benefits for any given individual.
6 popular methods of IF:
- The 16/8 Method:
This method involves fasting every day for 14-16 hours. Generally, women benefit from slightly shorter fasts, so it’s recommended that women only fast 14-15 hours.
When you’re in rotation from fasting to eating, you would be restricting your daily eating window to 8-10 hours, in which you’d typically be able to fit 2-3 meals.
For people who naturally don’t feel very hungry in the morning and would typically have a small or no breakfast, this method of IF would be very easy and “natural”.
Lastly, despite IF focusing on when you eat, rather than what. It’s important that while you are eating, that you aren’t eating excessively or meals that aren’t nutritious or healthy.
- The 5:2 Diet:
This method involves eating as you normally would 5 days of the week, and fasting for 2 days of the week where you restrict yourself to 500-600 calories on the fasting days.
This method involves a 24 hour fast, once or twice per week. For example, fasting from breakfast one day, to breakfast on the next day. This can also be done lunch to lunch, or dinner to dinner the next day.
On fasting days, water, coffee or any non-caloric beverages are recommended so you stay hydrated. But no solid foods.
It is suggested to ease into a 24 hour fast, as this may be quite difficult for those who have never fasted before. For example, you can start with a 14 hour fast, and then keep adding an hour more as your body gets more used to it.
- Alternate-Day Fasting:
This involves fasting every other day, allowing 500 calories during fasting days. A complete 24-hour fast may be very difficult when starting out with this method, so it’s not recommended for beginners.
- The Warrior Diet:
This involves fasting during the day and eating one huge meal at night. Rotating between fasting and feasting within a 4-hour eating window in the evening. Small amounts of raw fruits and vegetables are allowed during the fasting period.
This diet is one of the first popular diets to include IF. There is also an emphasis on natural food choices that resemble some foods in the paleo diet, such as whole and unprocessed foods.
- Spontaneous Meal Skipping:
A much less structured method of IF, this method involves skipping meals from time to time, when your body doesn’t feel very hungry or that it’s necessary to eat.
IF helps to bust the myth that humans need to be eating constantly. For most of human history, humans have not had this form of eating pattern and won’t go into starvation mode if not fed every few hours.
A spontaneous IF is perhaps the most “natural” way to fast and some of us may be doing this already!