There isn’t one right way to do intermittent fasting. Instead, there are several popular intermittent fasting methods that you can try until you find the one that works best for you.
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What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is the process of not eating and/or drinking for set periods of time.
What Intermittent Fasting Methods Are There?
The 4 most popular methods of intermittent fasting are:
- The 16/8 method (aka Leangains)
- Eat-stop-eat (aka 24-hour fasts once or twice a week)
- The 5:2 diet (aka the Fast Diet)
- Crescendo Method (12-16 hours, 2-3 days a week)
Other methods of intermittent fasting include the Warrior Diet, One Meal a Day, 36-Hour Fasting, 48-hour Fasting, and Alternate Day Fasting.
The 16/8 Method of Intermittent Fasting
The 16/8 method of intermittent fasting means that you fast for 16* hours a day and eat only during an 8-hour window. 16 fast / 8 eat.
*It’s often recommended that women fast for 14 hours and eat for 10. To learn more about the benefits of intermittent fasting and differences for men and women check out Intermittent Fasting Benefits.
It sounds hard, right? 16 hours a day of NOT EATING! But it’s not as hard as it seems on the surface. Think about it. You spend about 8 hours a day sleeping, so there’s half (ish) of your fast time.
Most people will choose to fast for 2-4 hours before bed and 4-6 hours upon waking. Some people vary when their 8 hours occurs based on the day of the week.
I like an even 4 hours before bed and 4 hours upon waking, but you should experiment with what would work best for you.
Sample Intermittent Fasting 16/8 Method Schedule
The Eat-Stop-Eat Intermittent Fasting Method
This is both the simplest and most difficult method.
It’s easy to follow – you fast for 24 hours, once or twice a week. Mondays and Thursdays are popular choices for fasting days.
It’s hard to do – 24 hours. That’s a full day without eating. No food. No calories. It requires a fierce amount of willpower, but only for 2 days a week.
Sample Intermittent Fasting Eat-Stop-Eat Method Schedule
The 5:2 Diet Intermittent Fasting Method
This method doesn’t involve truly fasting. You eat normally for 5 days of the week and on the other two days, you consume about 500 calories (or a quarter of your caloric needs).
You shouldn’t do your two “fast” days consecutively. The most popular choices for fasting days are Monday and Thursday (make up for the weekend and prepare for the weekend, I’m guessing).
If you’re looking to lose weight, the Fast 5:2 diet can be a great choice. However, it won’t work if you’re eating too much on fast days or if you’re overeating on non-fast days.
If you want to learn more about the Fast 5:2 Diet, check the 5:2 Diet Book.
Sample Intermittent Fasting 15:2 Diet Method Schedule
The Crescendo Intermittent Fasting Method
This is like a limited version of the 16-8 method. You choose two or three days a week, and you fast for 12-16 hours on those days.
The Crescendo Method is pretty open to interpretation. Some people think you should fast for 12 waking hours, other people say 16 total hours.
The Crescendo Method is often used as a stepping stone into the Eat-Fast-Eat Method. Start by fasting for 12 hours a day, twice a week and work your way up to 24 hours.
Sample Intermittent Fasting Crescendo Method Schedule
Additional Intermittent Fasting Methods
- The Warrior Diet: 20 hours of fasting and 1 large meal or 2 small meals in the 4 hours of eating time.
- One Meal a Day: Eat one meal a day. Usually, this is a large evening meal.
- 36-Hour Fast: As the name says, fast for 36 hours. This is usually done once a week.
- 48-Hour Fast: As the name says, fast for 48 hours. This can be done as often as once a week. Some people do it once a month to go with their normal fasting method.
- Alternate Day Fasting: This is like an extended 5:2 diet. You alternate between eating normally and eating up to 500 calories.
How to Choose an Intermittent Fasting Method?
First, remember that you can always change. This isn’t a commitment you’re locked into for the rest of your life. If whatever you choose doesn’t work for you, re-evaluate and try something else.
Think about your current lifestyle and eating patterns.
Do you regularly skip meals? Is it / are they the same meal?
For example, if you skip breakfast a lot the 16/8, Crescendo, or 5:2 method could be easier choices.
Are you a regular snacker who eats small meals? The 5:2 diet might be best for you.
Start with something that will easily fit into your current lifestyle. Move to something else later (if you want).
Whatever Works for You
There are many different ways to do intermittent fasting, experiment until you find the one that works for you.
Give it your best shot. Let me know if you have any tips! Want more? Learn how to Add Intermittent Fasting to Popular Diets next!
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