Medically Reviewed by Babar Shahzad, DR
When it comes to fasting, there is no single method that fits all.
The most important thing is finding a program that fits your lifestyle, health, and goals – a program that you can actually stick to in the long run. In this article, we will introduce you to some of the most popular forms of fasting in detail.
The 5:2 fast
This is one of the most popular methods of fasting. The 5:2 fasting method allows you to eat normally for five days and then restrict your calorie intake to 500-600 calories on the other two days.
This fasting method is highly flexible; you can choose whichever two days you prefer. However, we highly recommend including at least one non-fasting day in between those two days.
The 500-600 calories can be either consumed in a single meal or spread out into multiple meals over the course of the day. Women who eat two meals a day should break it down to 250 calories per meal, and men should raise this number to 300 calories. This one is quite easy to follow, especially if you know you have two days per week where you tend to be less physically active, meaning you also have to consume fewer calories for energy.
This one is probably the most beginner-friendly fasting method.
A 12-hour fast means that you eat within the first 12 hours of the day and abstain from food for the next 12 hours.
For example, if you eat three meals a day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., then you should fast from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. This method is easy to follow and provides amazing results in the long run.
Though it is said that your body is out of blood sugar 8 hours after your last meal. That means if you follow a 12-hour fasting method, you will be burning fat for 4 hours only.
Of course, that’s better than nothing but keep in mind, that you can start with this one, see how you’re doing and then extend your fasting time bit by bit until you’re ready to follow 16:8 method!
16-hour fasts are a bit more complex than 12-hour fasts, but in return, they lead to even better results.
As the title implies, you should hold off from any food for 16 hours and eat during the remaining 8 hours of the day. When following this method of fasting, you have to consume lots of high-protein foods and eat carbohydrates on rotation.
If you exercise, you should try to be strategic with your nutrient intake. This means that the majority of your carbohydrates should be consumed immediately after a workout. For example, if you eat from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., then during that period you should eat two to four or five meals and fast from 7 p.m. to 11 a.m.
When following this method of fasting, some people choose to skip the morning meal every day and have snacks before other meals instead. This fasting method would probably be the most popular one and it has the best easy-to-follow and effectiveness ratio!
Read to find out more: Leangains: A Simple, Science-Based Guide
20-hour fasts: “The Warrior Diet”
A 20-hour fast is considered to be one of the oldest methods of fasting.
It allows you to eat small portions of certain food types at dinner. During that dinner period, you should also work out. At the end of the day, you would have a feeding window.
Although this method is quite hard to follow, it is very convenient and provides amazing results. Some people choose to do it for a week or two, before some important event or a photoshoot, but not many have enough discipline to keep up with this regime for longer periods of time. Remember, you don’t have to force yourself if keeping up with such an extreme eating pattern makes you feel hungry and tired, choose the one that is easier to follow!
Read to find out more: Warrior Diet – Your Solution to a Healthy Weight Loss
A 24-hour fast means that you fast from breakfast to breakfast, from lunch to lunch, or from dinner to dinner – whichever you prefer.
For example, if you have dinner at 7 p.m. on Day 1, you should fast until 7 p.m. on Day 2. Regardless of what the title suggests, you don’t have to fast for 24 hours. You can have one meal during that time to tide you over and use it to take medications that must be taken with food.
Same as The Warrior Diet mentioned above, it’s not for everyone. You can try this fasting method for a short period of time if you need to lose weight fast because it really brings outstanding results. It can be before your wedding day or after that heavy Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, after whom you feel full and bloated. But stay smart and listen to your body! Going straight from feasting all day long to 24-hour fasting can be really shocking for your body.
Read to find out more: One Meal a Day: What Benefits Does It Bring?
Random meal skipping
Random meal skipping is mainly focused on eating unprocessed foods. Other than that, the rules of fasting are highly flexible and you can skip meals randomly once or twice a week.
This type of fasting is perfect for people who are busy and don’t have a lot of time to follow different diets. It basically helps you to reduce your calorie intake. If you had a really heavy lunch, you might want to let your body rest and skip dinner, or at least, have a light one.
Fasting on alternate days
As the title suggests, this plan allows you to eat every second day.
For example, on Monday you would eat anytime between 7-8 a.m. and 7-8 p.m., then you would fast on Monday night and all day and all night on Tuesday. You would start eating again from Wednesday at 7-8 a.m. and continue in that same order.
Those who follow this method should choose healthy food on fasting days and eat whatever they wish on non-fasting days. Not everyone is into this “mix-up”, but it has its logic. It’s easier to reserve yourself for a day when you know you can reward yourself later.
Read to find out more: Alternate Day Fasting: Everything A Newbie Needs to Know
As said in the beginning, there is no ultimate way of fasting. Everyone should choose a method that suits their lifestyle the best. One way or another, it’s worth to give it a try for its numerous health benefits and amazing weight loss results it can bring.
Anyway, we know that It’s easy to get lost with all those methods. You can try to figure it out yourself, or you can take a QUIZ and get your personalized intermittent fasting plan!