People looking to lose fat quickly have turned to all types of fad diets over the past few decades. From low fat to high fat to low carb to gluten free to 6 small meals a day to raw veggies without dressing.
Well, if you’ve tried any of these fad diets then you’ve probably come to a realization that either it was too difficult to be consistent with or the results weren’t worth the strict diet.
What's a simpler solution?
The solution could simply be skipping a meal or two a few days a week.
Ever heard of intermittent fasting?
This is fasting for a short amount of time ranging from 14 to 36 hours. Think that’s too difficult? Think about the fact that each of us “fasts” every day; it is just known to us as “sleep”. All you need to do is extend that period of time a few more hours.
Why would you do this?
To lose weight, feel better, and to improve body composition.
What is the science behind intermittent fasting?
As far back as the 1930’s researchers found that by drastically reducing the number of calories consumed by mice lead to a longer healthier life. Since then the same studies with similar results have been performed on other animals such as monkeys, fruit flies and roundworms.
According to Mark Mattson, senior investigator for the National Institute on Aging, part of the US National Institutes of Health says that fasting has been shown to improve biomarkers of disease, reduce oxidative stress and preserve learning and memory functioning.
The six most common types of intermittent fasting all have the common goal of achieving the benefits of fasting with varying approaches. You should choose the method that fits your daily schedule and lifestyle. If you choose a method that isn’t in tune with your lifestyle, chances are you won’t last too long. So, pick one that you think best suits you then reap the benefits of fasting.
As in all diets, intermittent fasting isn’t right for everyone. Before making a drastic change in your daily nutrition routine please consult your doctor, especially those with existing health conditions. Please keep in mind that the intermittent fasting method should be in sync with your individual goals and daily lifestyle.
Please note that these methods used in conjunction with regular exercise will yield far superior results.
1. Eat Stop Eat by Brad Pilon
Key Takeaway: Complete a 24-hour fast one or two times weekly.
Suited for: Already healthy eaters looking for an extra boost to break plateaus.
Take a break from food for 24 hours once or twice per week.
Choose start/end time that fits your schedule
Calorie-free drinks CAN be consumed during the fasting period
Ex. If you finish lunch at 1pm on Monday, then you wouldn’t eat again until Tuesday at 1pm. There’s one of your 24 hour fasts for the week.
Why Eat Stop Eat?
Reduce total calorie consumption.
No restriction of certain foods.
Flexible program (1-2 times weekly).
No forbidden foods.
No counting calories, no weighing food *(Don’t go overboard it’s always about moderation).
Difficult for some to go 24 hours without food at the beginning (Start with a 16-hour fast build up to the 24-hour fast).
Some people will experience side effects such as headaches, fatigue, or feeling cranky or anxious (Don’t worry these symptoms will diminish over time as your body adjusts).
The extended period of fasting might lead to certain people to binge eat once the fast is completed.
Start the fast on a very busy day or days without eating obligations (business lunches, family gatherings etc.)
2. Leangains A.K.A The 16/8 Method by Martin Berkhan
Key Takeaway: Don’t eat after dinner, then skip breakfast the next day.
Suited for: Devoted gym-goers who want to build muscle and lose fat.
Women = Fasting time 14 hours, feeding time 10 hours.
Men = Fasting time 16 hours, feeding time 8 hours.
Calorie-free drinks permitted during fast (coffee, diet beverages etc.).
Start fast after dinner so sleeping takes up most of fasting time. (Break the fast about 6 hours after waking up).
Ex. If you finish your last meal at 8 pm on Monday and then don’t eat until 12 in the afternoon on Tuesday; you’ve completed your 16 hour fasting time.
Most natural fasting time (you’ll be sleeping through the majority of the fasting time).
Still able to eat 2-3 meals during feeding time.
Fits most people’s schedule (Most natural fasting time).
Meal frequency is irrelevant (Eat any time during feeding period. Most people would eat 3 meals as this is ingrained in our brains).
Leangains has strict guidelines of what to eat especially if you’re working out. See those guidelines here.
Try to keep fasting/feeding times constant for best results.
Whole unprocessed foods should make up the bulk of your calorie intake.
3. The Warrior Diet by Ori Hofmekler
Key Takeaway: Under eat during the day; eat one huge meal at night.
Suited for: The dedicated few who can follow rules.
Fast for about 20 hours/day.
Eat 1 large meal at night.
Maximize the Sympathetic Nervous System’s “fight or flight” response by eating small servings of raw vegetables, fruits and protein during the 20 hour “fasting” time.
Maximize the Parasympathetic Nervous System’s ability by overeating during the 4 hours of feeding time at night.
Ex. Daytime under-eating 20 hours (eat small amount of raw fruits, veggies and protein).
Nighttime overeating(4 hours) Eat in this order: veggies, fats, proteins, carbs(only if you’re still hungry).
Why The Warrior Diet?
Feeding the body the nutrients it needs in sync with circadian rhythms.
Humans are nocturnal eaters programmed to eat at night.
Fasting period allows you to still eat small snacks.
People have reported increased energy and fat loss.
What/when to eat guidelines can be tough to follow.
Strict scheduling and meal plan makes it difficult to adhere to especially for social butterflies.
Some people don’t like to eat large meals at night.
Food choices similar to the Paleo diet.
4. UpDayDownDay Diet (Alternate-Day Fasting) by James Johnson, M.D.
Key Takeaway: Fasting every other day. (Eat normal one day, next day extreme caloric deficit).
Suited for: Experienced dieters trying to hit a specific weight goal.
Eat normal (Men:2500cal/day Women: 2000cal/day) -Eat VERY LITTLE (1/5th of normal caloric intake) the next day.
Try to schedule intense workouts with the normal feeding days.
Ex. Monday eat normally throughout the day, then Tuesday eat 1/5th of what you ate on Monday.
Why Alternate Day Fasting?
Fast way to cut fat.
Can still eat (up to 500calories) during fasting period.
Mainly for achieving weight loss.
According to UpDayDownDayDiet people who cut their calories 20-35% saw about a 2 ½ pound loss per week.
Those lacking self control tend to binge eat on their “normal” days.
Tips: Use meal replacement shakes on the “fasting” days in the beginning.
5. 5:2 Diet by Michael Mosley
Key Takeaway: 5 days/week eat normally; 2 days a week restrict calories to 500-600/day.
Suited for: Anyone looking to lose weight as it is easier to follow for beginners.
Normal (5) days eat daily recommended calories (Men:2500cal/day Women:2000cal/day).
2 days caloric deficit spaced between normal eating days. (Men:600cal/day Women:500cal/day).
Focus on eating nutritious, high protein, high fiber foods that will make you feel full.
Ex. Monday/Thursday fasting days. Rest of the week consume normal amount of calories.
Why 5:2 Diet?
People are more likely to stay consistent with this type of dieting long term. This diet will help to lose weight and improve metabolic condition.
Easy to follow for people with hectic daily schedules.
Lose weight without long periods of fasting.
No clinical studies that show the 5:2 diet itself.
Eat soup on your down days to help feel fuller.
6. Feast/Fast by John Romaniello
Suited for: People who exercise regularly and like the concept of cheat days.
Eat normal nutritious diet 5 days a week.
Have one cheat day.
Don’t eat from your last meal of your cheat day until the morning, two days later.
Ex. Have your cheat day on Sunday and finish last meal at 10pm. Don’t eat anything on Monday, start eating your balanced diet on Tuesday morning.
Dieting causes leptin levels to drop which in turn slows down fat loss. When you cheat (overeat), your leptin levels increase, thus speeding up the rate of fat loss. So, by scheduling a period of fasting subsequent to a cheat day does the following things:
People are able to stick with this method because they can look forward to the cheat day.
Only one true day of fasting each week.
Some people might have trouble adhering to the 36 hour fasting period every week
Eat all the foods (ice cream, wings, pizza, beer) you might crave throughout the week..EAT A LOT!!
How to handle the hunger?
If this is your first foray into the world of fasting then you should be prepared to face some of the side effects such as hunger, sleepiness and overall weakness. However, these feelings will pass after your body gets used to the change in your diet routine. Try to keep busy to get your mind off of FOOD.
Those of you who are newbies to fasting might want to consider keeping some small snacks handy for your first few fasting days, just in case you feel faint or ill.
Intermittent fasting isn’t good for everyone, so if you are feeling faint or ill constantly after your first few fasting days please consult with your doctor before continuing any type of fasting.
People Who Shouldn’t Fast:
***Women should consult a medical professional before starting any type of fasting due to:
Now you have a few weapons in your fat loss arsenal. These methods can be used to achieve amazing results if done correctly and combined with regular exercise. We may not have the miracle get ripped quick pill but with a few simple changes to your diet and the frequency you eat, you can reap the benefits of fasting. If you’re looking to lose weight or improve your health through eating habits, look no further than intermittent fasting.
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