Intermittent fasting has been a popular weight-loss trend for years. It is an easy way to train your body to go longer periods without food, and it can be done in many ways, depending on your goals.
Let's look at the different intermittent-fasting schedules so you can pick the one that works best for you!
The 16:8 Method
One of the more popular methods of intermittent fasting, 16:8 limits the consumption of foods and high-calorie drinks to a specific eight-hour period during the day. You spend approximately 16 hours fasting with an eight-hour feeding window to get in your daily calories.
Not eating except during a certain time period can help you cut down on snacking, which can help you stay on top of your total calorie consumption and therefore lose weight faster. However, the extended time in which your body is not eating anything can be challenging for some people. You may even experience hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, if you do physical work during this fasting period since glycogen stores become depleted quickly when carbs are not available for the body's use. This can lead to shakiness, dizziness, or even fainting, depending on how low your blood glucose goes.
The 5:2 Diet
With the 5:2 intermittent-fasting schedule, you eat normally for five days and fast, by restricting yourself to 500–600 calories, on the other two.
The 5:2 diet effectively helps with weight loss as long as you monitor the total calories consumed on your eating days and limit them to a certain target. In other words, 5:2 only works if you're not binging on your non-fasting days.
However, the 500-600 calories per day you eat on your two fasting days reduce some of the benefits of a full fast, and you have no energy during the fasting days. Some 5:2 users have also reported that the small amounts they ate on their fast days actually made them feel hungrier than not eating at all.
The Warrior Diet
Popularized by fitness expert Ori Hofmekler, the Warrior Diet involves fasting for 20 hours and eating during a four-hour window every day. For example, you could have dinner at 7 p.m. and then not eat again until 3 p.m. the next day.
Although Hofmekler's diet calls for "underfeeding," eating small portions of dairy, hard-cooked eggs, and raw vegetables and fruits to tide you over during the fasting period, more recent interpretations of the Warrior Diet prescribe a complete fast during the 20 hours.
The warrior diet increases insulin, which improves blood sugar regulation and enhances fat burning. It also has many of the benefits of standard intermittent fasting, including weight loss and less muscle lost during weight loss.
Unfortunately, this fasting style requires early start times and late eating times, which may make it difficult to participate in social activities. It also encourages overeating during the four-hour feeding window, which could lead to problematic eating practices and binging and purging behaviors.
Eat-Stop-Eat, also known as the one-day fast, is exactly what it sounds like: a 24-hour fasting period done once or twice per week. It was popularized by fitness expert Brad Pilon.
Eat-Stop-Eat is like the 5:2 method but with a full fast on the fasting days. This can make it harder for new dieters to stick with it but does bring more of the health benefits of full fasting.
Fasting just twice a week does make it easier to sync with workout rest days, making this diet easier for some people to stick with. But, just like with the 5:2 method, you must control your food intake on the non-fasting days to get the full weight-loss effect of intermittent fasting.