Understanding the different types of intermittent fasting

different types of intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting, or Time-Restricted Feeding, is a time-based approach to eating, where there are periods of time that you fast and other times where you eat.

There are several different types of intermittent fasting. Before starting your intermittent fast, you should research which type of fasting suits you and check with your doctor to make sure there are no medical reasons that would prevent you from starting an intermittent fast.

Many people have successfully used intermittent fasting to lose weight and improve their overall health.

Different Types of Intermittent Fasting

The 16:8 Fasting Method

The 16:8 method of intermittent fasting is the most popular way to start intermittent fasting. This type of intermittent fasting involves 16 hours of fasting followed by an 8-hour window to eat.  One of the easiest ways to do the 16:8 method is to either skip breakfast or dinner. If you skip breakfast then your first meal would be at lunchtime followed by an evening dinner before 8 PM.

In the other version of 16:8 fasting, people eat during breakfast and lunch but then skip dinner. The goal of the 16:8 intermittent fast isn’t to restrict or limit calories, but simply to restrict a time window of when you eat. This limited window of eating helps normalize insulin response.

There’s some evidence that the skipping breakfast 16:8 intermittent fast may provide more health benefits that the 16:8 intermittent fast where you skip dinner1

The 5:2 Fasting Method

The 5:2 method of fasting lets you eat as you normally would for five days of the week. Then on the final two days of the week, you do a modified fast where you reduce your daily calories to 500-600 calories for each day. The benefit of the 5:2 fasting method over the 16:8 fast is that the longer 2 day fast will help increase autophagy in your body, which is thought to be an important aspect of longevity and healthy living.

It’s important that on the days that you fast that if you do eat a small number of calories, that you limit sugar intake since the carbohydrates may block autophagy.

Alternate Day Fasting

Alternate Day Fasting allows you to eat a normal diet every other day with fasting days in between your normal diet days. On the fasting days, some people will do a water-one fast while others will drop their calorie intake to around 500-600 calories a day (similar to the 5:2 fasting method). I don’t usually recommend a full water-fast on the Alternate Day Fasting since many people find the 36 hours (from dinner the day before until breakfast the day after the fasting day) to be a lot time to fast on a regular basis. 

One Meal A Day (OMAD)

The One Meal A Day or OMAD fast is sometimes called the Warrior Diet. The OMAD fast delays eating food until just one specific meal in the day while fasting with water, coffee, tea, or bone broth the rest of the time. On the OMAD fast, calories aren’t restricted during the one meal, but its important to make healthy whole food choices. The One Meal A Day fast has been popular in the Paleo diet crowd and with some Crossfit fans.

The one problem some people have with OMAD is that they find it difficult to get enough calories in during their one meal and end up having a difficult time maintaining their weight. This problem is a bigger issue if you are a weight lifter or trying to gain lean-muscle mass since the limited caloric intake can inhibit muscle growth.

Spontaneous Meal Skipping

Spontaneous meal skipping is another form of fasting that is a little less structured. Meal skipping seems to work better for those that have fasted in the past or have been on a ketogenic diet. With the Spontaneous Meal Skipping fast, you simply skip a meal when convenient instead of following a structured fasting plan. You can skip meals from time to time when you don’t feel hungry or you are too busy to cook and eat. So you can skip breakfast and then eat a healthy lunch and dinner. Skipping 1 or 2 meals when you feel like is basically spontaneous intermittent fasting. Just have healthy meals whenever you do eat. 

What can you drink or eat while intermittent fasting?

Most people drink water with added salt and potassium to help maintain their hydration and electrolyte balance. You can also drink coffee while intermittent fasting, as well as tea and even some sugar-free drinks like Crystal Light.

If you get hungry, you can try chewing sugar-free gum while intermittent fasting.

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1550413118302535 []

One response to “Understanding the different types of intermittent fasting”

  1. There seems to be a lot of conflict around the duration of intermittent fasting practices. Would you say that intermittent fasting should be done for only a set amount of time, or is it a practice that can be continued indefinitely? Also, if there is, in fact, only a set amount of time that a person should be enacting the practice, how long of a duration would you recommend? Would it depend on the kind of fasting practice being followed, or would the set time limit for practicing the fast largely be the same regardless of fasting type?

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