Intermittent fasting is gaining in popularity as a dietary approach that helps with weight loss and maybe even improves health. And even though it sounds complicated, it’s actually a very simple concept. This series will explore the pros and cons of intermittent fasting and explain how to do it right if you decide to try it.
It’s not a new thing
The human body is intimately familiar with fasting – our ancestors did it quite often because food was scarce. People still fast voluntarily for religious reasons, be it one day or a whole month without food. But you may get many benefits of fasting even with shorter fasts, and that’s where intermittency comes in. Intermittent fasting basically means that you select a time window in which you have all your meals and you don’t eat anything after that, only drink water, tea, or coffee.
A restricted eating time window
Technically, we all do a version of intermittent fasting. We fast during the night for about 8 hours and then eat during the rest of the day. The point of intermittent fasting is to stretch the fasting window. There are many ways to do that. Here are some of the more popular ones.
Beginner’s IF 12/12
This is the easiest version of intermittent fasting. You fast for 12 hours and eat during the remaining 12 hours of the day. For example, if you have your breakfast at 8:00, then your last meal has to be before 20:00. If you’re comfortable with this regime, you can try one of the following more advanced methods.
This is probably the most popular intermittent fasting method. It’s challenging but not unreasonable. You fast for 16 hours a day and have your two or three meals within an 8-hour window. Most people who use this method skip breakfast, start their day with a lunch at 12:00, and then have the last meal before 20:00. The Leangains approach also recommends eating plenty of protein, cycling carbs, timing meals after workouts, and training in a fasted state.
Warrior Diet 20/4
This method is for the hard-core intermittent fasters. You fast 20 hours a day and only have 4 hours to get all of your nutrition in. This usually results in people having one very big meal in the evening time. It’s also essential that people put extra emphasis on choosing high-quality nutrient-dense foods to get the most out of that one meal a day.
24-hour fast once a week
If you aren’t comfortable with limiting your eating time window, you can try this approach. Choose one or two days each week where you fast for the full 24 hours. In the remaining days you eat normally, but it is recommended that you increase your protein intake and avoid processed foods as much as possible to nourish your body well after the whole day of fasting.
Now you know what intermittent fasting means. In the next article we will look at reasons why it’s a good idea to give it a go. If you’re interested in weight loss, sharp mind, and a healthy heart, check it out!