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health and wellness - intermittent fasting

The 7 Best Fasting Methods

Intermittent-Fasting (IF) is defined as voluntary abstinence from eating for variable time intervals and has been associated with potential beneficial impacts on human health.

Below are some of the best intermittent-fasting techniques along with some detail.  Work out what works best for your current lifestyle and give it a go today.

5:2 Fasting

This is one of the most popular IF methods. The idea is to eat normally for five days (don’t count calories); then on the other two days eat 500 or 600 calories a day, for women and men, respectively. The IF days are any days of your choosing.

The idea is that short bouts of IF keep you compliant; should you be hungry on a IF day, you just have to look forward to the next day, when you can “feast” again. Some people say, ‘I can do anything for two days, but it’s too much to cut back on what I eat all seven days,’ For those people, a 5:2 approach may work better than cutting calories for the entire week.

That said, Dieticians advise against IF on days that you may be doing a lot of endurance exercise. If you’re prepping for a bike or running race (or run high-mileage weeks), evaluate whether this type of IF will work with your training plan. Or speak with a sports nutritionist.

Time-Restricted Fasting

With this type of IF, you choose an eating window every day, which should ideally leave a 14- to 16-hour fasting period. (Due to hormonal concerns, it is recommended that women fast for no more than 14 hours daily.) IF promotes autophagy, the natural ‘cellular housekeeping’ process where the body clears debris and other things that stand in the way of the health of mitochondria, which begins when liver glycogen is depleted. Doing this may help maximize fat cell metabolism and optimize insulin function, she says.

With this approach, you set your eating window from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., for instance. It can work especially well for someone with a family who eats an early dinner anyway. Then much of the time spent IF is time spent sleeping anyway. (You also don’t technically have to “miss” any meals, depending on when you set your window.)

But this is dependent on how consistent you can be. If your schedule is frequently changing, or you need or want the freedom to go out to breakfast occasionally, head out for a late date night, or go to happy hour, daily periods of IF may not be for you.  Check out more on 16:8 in our multipart series.

Overnight Fasting

This approach is the simplest of the bunch, and it involves IF for a 12-hour period every day. For example: Choose to stop eating after dinner by 7 p.m. and then resume eating at 7 a.m. with breakfast the next morning.

Autophagy does still happen at the 12-hour mark, though you’ll get more mild cellular benefits. This is the minimum number of fasting hours recommended.

A benefit of this method is that it’s easy to implement. Also, you don’t have to skip meals; if anything, all you’re doing is eliminating a bedtime snack (if you ate one to begin with). But this method doesn’t maximize the advantages of IF.

If you’re using fasting for weight loss, a smaller fasting window means more time to eat, and it may not help you decrease the number of calories you consume.

Eat Stop Eat

Simply put, East-Stop-Eat emphasizes the idea that IF is just taking a break from food for a time. You complete one or two 24-hour fasts per week and commit to a resistance training program. The premise being; when your fast is over, I want you to pretend that it never happened and eat responsibly.

Eating responsibly refers to going back to a normal way of eating, where you don’t binge because you just fasted, but you also don’t restrict yourself with an extreme diet or eat less than you need. Occasional IF combined with regular weight training is best for fat loss. By going on one or two 24-hour fasts during the week, you allow yourself to eat a slightly higher number of calories on the other five or six non-fasting days. That, he says, makes it easier and more enjoyable to end the week with a calorie deficit but without feeling as if you had to be on an extreme diet.

Read more about Eat Stop Eat here

Whole-Day Fasting

Here, you eat once a day. Some people choose to eat dinner and then not eat again until the next day’s dinner. With whole-day IF, the fasting periods are essentially 24 hours (dinner to dinner or lunch to lunch), whereas with 5:2 the fasting period is actually 36 hours. (For example, you eat dinner on Sunday, then “fast” on Monday by eating 500 or 600 calories, and break it with breakfast on Tuesday.)

The advantage of whole-day IF, if done for weight loss, is that it’s really tough (though not impossible) to eat an entire day’s worth of calories in one sitting. The disadvantage of this approach is that it’s hard to get all the nutrients your body needs to function optimally with just one meal. Not to mention, this approach is tough to stick to.

You might get really hungry by the time dinner rolls around, and that can lead you to consume not-so-great, calorie-dense choices. Think about it: When you’re ravenous, you’re not exactly craving broccoli.

Many people also drink coffee in excess to get through their hunger, which can have negative effects on your ability to sleep. You may also notice brain fog throughout the day if you’re not eating

Alternate-Day Fasting

This approach was popularized by Krista Varady, PhD, a nutrition professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago. People might fast every other day, with a “fast” consisting of 25 percent of their calorie needs (about 500 calories), and non-fasting days being normal eating days. This is a popular approach for weight loss.
In fact, research found that, in overweight adults, alternate-day IF significantly reduced body mass index, weight, fat mass, and total cholesterol.

You may be concerned about feeling hungry on fasting days. Previous research published by Dr. Varady and colleagues found that side effects of alternate-day IF (like hunger) decreased by week two, and the participants started feeling more satisfied on the diet after week four.

The downside was that during the eight weeks in the experiment, study participants said that they were never really “full,” which can make adhering to this approach challenging.

Choose-Your-Day Fasting

This is more of a choose-your-own-adventure approach to IF. You might do the time-restricted IF (fast for 16 hours, eat for eight, for instance) every other day or once or twice a week.

What that means is that Sunday might be a normal day of eating, where you stop eating by 8 p.m.; then you’d resume eating again on Monday at noon. Essentially, it’s like skipping breakfast a few days a week.

Something to keep in mind: The research on the effect skipping breakfast has on weight loss is mixed. There isn’t strong evidence to suggest that skipping breakfast affects weight.
But other research has shown that eating a morning meal can modestly impact weight loss.
And other research has linked breakfast skipping with an increased risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease.

This approach may be easily adaptable to your lifestyle and is more go with the flow, meaning you can make it work even with a schedule that changes from week to week.

In Summary

IF is a personal decision but once you have decided on which type of fasting you will follow, it is important to take time to measure and document your weight and make sure it is working for you.  At Future Health Fitness we can assist in measuring your body composition at regular intervals allowing you to make the best decisions during your health and wellness journey.

IF Apps, worth a look.



Zero Intermittent Fasting App



Simple Fasting App
Avatar of Nathaniel Peek
Nathaniel Peek
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