The use of intermittent fasting as a diet option is not new; however, this form of dieting is becoming increasingly popular. While fasting itself is centralized around the notion of not consuming any calories for set portions of time, intermittent fasting is essentially the act of implementing a fasting and eating rotational schedule.
In this article, we’ll break down what intermittent fasting is and what its benefits are. We will also provide you with six intermittent fasting methods that are regularly used by dieters for the best results.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting (IF) centers around the intentional implementation of fasting and eating schedules with the desire to lose weight or otherwise gain other health benefits. Unlike many other diet methods, intermittent fasting doesn’t place restrictions on what type of food or how many calories you can eat. Instead, intermittent fasting dieters will schedule regular extended periods of time in which they abstain entirely from consuming calories of any kind.
Although intermittent fasting is an increasingly more popular diet choice, it is not a new practice. In essence, human beings have developed the capability to go extended periods of time without eating throughout human evolution. Spanning from the time that ancient humans experienced more frequently inadequate food supply, to where this particular eating pattern is a core practice today for religions such as Islam and Judaism, intermittent fasting is definitely here to stay.
What Are the Benefits of Intermittent Fasting Plans?
The reasons that intermittent fasting is chosen as a diet method vary from person-to-person. But it can definitely be seen through the extensive list of potential benefits why intermittent fasting is such a popular choice. Below are some of the common benefits of this dieting method:
- Inflammation Reduction – There have been some studies that show intermittent fasting can reduce inflammation.
- Weight Loss – By fasting intermittently, calories can be actively reduced, which can result in weight loss.
- Cancer Prevention – There have been some studies on animals that suggest intermittent fasting can help prevent cancer.
- Improved Heart Health – Intermittent fasting can potentially reduce cholesterol, which can lead to improved heart health.
- Improved Blood Sugar Levels – Insulin resistance has been shown in some studies to be improved through intermittent fasting, which also resulted in a lowering of blood sugar levels.
- Improved Brain Health – Because the act of fasting intermittently increases a critical brain hormone, BDNF, considerable nerve cell growth can be improved according to some studies.
Six of the Most Effective Intermittent Fasting Methods
One of the best things about intermittent fasting is its ability to be molded to fit an individual’s needs and personal lifestyle. If you’re looking for some inspiration to get you started on an effective intermittent fasting track, we’ve got six widely-used methods below. Take a look.
- 5/2 Intermittent Fasting – This intermittent fasting method involves rotating a schedule of fasting and strict calorie reduction. In a given seven-day week, followers of this fasting method will fast for five days and then eat no more than 500-600 calories per day for two days. This particular fasting method was developed by a journalist named Michael Mosley and is sometimes called the Fast Diet.
- 16/8 Intermittent Fasting – The 16/8 intermittent fasting method takes place within the span of a day. Primarily, followers of this fasting plan will fast for between 14-16 hours each day and only eat within a designated 8-10 hour period of the same day. An example of how to do this form of fasting would be eating dinner each evening at 6 p.m., fasting for the remainder of the night, and then eating a late breakfast at 10 a.m. By eating this way, you’ll be fasting for about 14 hours each day.
- Spontaneous Fasting – If a less-structured fasting plan sounds more appealing to you, try spontaneous fasting. Through spontaneous fasting, you typically skip several meals throughout the week, but the skips are random and conducive to fasting for short periods of time. Those with hectic or busy schedules might do better on a spontaneous fasting schedule.
- Eat Stop Eat Fasting- This version of intermittent fasting usually encompasses fasting for 24 hours for two to three days per week. Essentially, you would eat one day, fast for 24 hours the next day, eat the following day again, and continue repeating the cycle.
- The Warrior Diet – The Warrior Diet is often popular with those who do better snacking throughout the day. With this intermittent fasting method, followers will only snack on healthy fruits and vegetables throughout the day and then have one big dinner at the end of the evening. People who follow whole food and paleo diets might find this version of intermittent fasting appealing.
As always, before beginning any diet, consult with your physician to ensure it’s the right decision for your health.
Alternatives to Fasting
If fasting isn’t your style, consider trying one of these diets instead:
- Low-Carb – One of the most popular methods for losing weight is through low-carb diets. Through this diet type, carb intake is limited to anywhere between 20-150 grams each day. The amount of carbs you end up consuming is dependent on which low-carb diet you choose to follow; there are quite a few options.
- The Zone Diet – Within the limitations of the popular Zone diet, followers will maintain a low glycemic index by eating no more than 45 percent of daily calories in carbohydrate consumption.
- Paleo – The paleo diet seeks to cut out processed foods, dairy, and grains that are popular in today’s diets. Followers of this diet will focus on eating foods similar to what hunter-gatherer ancestors ate, including a lot of nuts, vegetables, lean proteins, seeds, fruits, and other healthy whole foods.
- Low-Fat Dieting – Followers of low-fat diets seek to lose weight by restricting fat consumption to no more than ten percent of calories consumed each day. While this particular diet is not one recommended for long-term weight loss, it has been shown to be effective in short-term weight loss for obese individuals.