Intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating where you schedule your meals primarily to achieve reduced weight and other benefits it comes with.
This approach does not change what you eat; rather it focuses on when to eat and when not to eat each day.
Deepening on the intermittent fasting schedule you choose, your fasting period may last up to 12-20 consecutive hours while your eating period could be as low as 4-8 hours in a day.
The more time you spend without eating, the better your results.
How Can Intermittent Fasting Help You Lose Weight?
Intermittent fasting can help you shred those stubborn fats in so many ways, and part of it is that it forces your body to use its stored body fat for energy.
This in turn helps to get rid of excess fat from the body and reduces the overall weight.
That’s not all; intermittent fasting also promotes weight loss as it help in optimizing the release of the key fat burning hormones in your body.
This includes two vital hormones named human growth hormone (HGH) and insulin. It increases the production of the growth hormone and keeps the levels of insulin in check to help reduce body fat.
Other health benefits linked with intermittent fasting include:
- Reduced stress levels
- Lowered calories
- Reduced risk of cancer
- Decreased LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol levels
- Lowered inflammation
- Reduced risk of Alzheimer’s
- Improved metabolism
BEFORE YOU START INTERMITTENT FASTING!!!
Having discussed the health benefits, below are some things you need to know before starting Intermittent Fasting [IF]:
- Intermittent Fasting is not for everyone; be sure to consult your doctor before practicing it at all.
- People who are underweight, very old, or very young should desist from intermittent fasting.
- IF is NOT ideal for people who need to closely regulate their blood sugar, including pregnant women, women, lactating mothers, diabetic patients, etc.
- Some particular IF schedules may trigger certain side effects, including irritability, extreme hunger, weariness, dehydration, headaches, low energy, heartburn, overeating, etc.
6 Best Intermittent Fasting Schedules for Weight Loss
1. 12:12 Intermittent Fasting
Under this intermittent fasting schedule, all you need do it to make a decision and adhere to a 12-hour fasting window for each day.
Based on recent studies, fasting for about 10–15 hours is capable of making the body convert its stored fat into energy, which in turn releases ketones into the bloodstream to promote weight loss.
This particular intermittent fasting plan is effective and considered ideal for beginners.
This is majorly because the window is somewhat small; in fact a good number of hours of the fasting are during sleep, and the person in question can even consume same amount of calories every day.
If you want to make this plan easier for you, it is best you include the period that you sleep most in the fasting window.
For instance, if your fasting window is between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m, you must have finished eating your dinner before 7 p.m. and wait till after 7 a.m. to eat your breakfast.
During this period, you’d have slept very well and you may not even know that you are fasting.
Read Also: 7 Day Carb Cycling Meal Plan for Weight Loss
2. 16:8 Method Or the Leangains Diet
This is more like a slight upgrade to the 12:12 diet and is suitable for people who are not satisfied with the results they got from the previously-mentioned diet.
During this diet, men fast for 16 hours every day while women fast for just 14 hours.
Multiple studies reveal that this fasting type can help reduce the risk of obesity, inflammation, diabetes, and liver disease.
That being said, the best way to practice this diet is to finish your dinner by/before 8 p.m. so that you can skip the next breakfast and avoid eating until afternoon.
For instance, you may decide to choose 8 p.m. to 12 p.m [for male]or to 10 a.m [for female].
3. The 5:2 Diet
The 5:2 Diet is a renowned form of intermittent fasting characterized by 2-day fasting and 5 days of eating healthful foods regularly.
What people following this diet do is to consume normal amount of calories in any 5 days of the week, and eat a reduced caloric amount [about 25%]for two, non-consecutive days.
For instance, you may decide to fast on eat regularly on Sunday and Monday, rest on Tuesday, eat normally again on Wednesday and Thursday, rest on Friday and then eat regularly on Saturday.
Although the number of studies on the 5:2 diet is somewhat low, yet it is found to be effective in accelerating weight loss and is also linked with lowered insulin levels and boosted insulin sensitivity.
4. Weekly 24-Hour Fast
This intermittent fasting schedule is also known as Eat-Stop-Eat. It entails fasting for 24-hour at stretch, either once or twice every week.
One thing about this fasting type is that it is not time specific; you can choose any hour of the day for it.
For instance, you may finish eating your dinner by/before 6pm today, and then wait till after 6pm the second day of the next day before eating any food.
Apart from dinner to dinner, you may decide to choose to fast from breakfast to breakfast or even lunch to lunch. You will get the same end result.
During this fasting period, you are allowed to consume water, tea, coffee and some other calorie-free beverages but never attempt to eat solid foods.
The major limitation of this 24-hour fast is that it can be challenging at times and may even trigger fatigue, headaches or irritability in beginners.
For this reason, it is advisable you start with 12:12 or 16:8 fasting schedules before moving onto the 24-hour fast.
5. Alternate Day Fasting
This is an approach to intermittent fasting that revolves around eating nothing one day, and then consuming good amount of food the next day.
It is linked with a lot of health benefits, including improved cardiovascular markers, lowered blood pressure, reduced heart rate, lowered LDL ‘bad’ cholesterols and triglycerides, and of course reduced overall weight.
One thing about Alternate day fasting is that it is somewhat extreme, and may not be ideal for beginners or people with certain medical conditions.
In fact, this method might leave you hungry every night, which is less pleasant and you may even find it difficult to maintain such fasting schedule in the long run.
6. The Warrior Diet
The Warrior Diet is yet another effective intermittent fasting schedule for weight loss and is somewhat extreme.
That being said, this diet type is all about eating very little amounts of raw fruits and vegetables during a 20-hour fasting window during the day, then eating one huge meal at night.
In most cases, you can only eat within 4 hours throughout the whole day.
Some of the best foods to eat in high amounts during the eating window include – vegetables, proteins, and healthful fats. Carbohydrates can also be added.
That said, this intermittent fasting schedule might be a great option for people who are not satisfied with the results gotten from other fasting types.
TIPS TO MAKE INTERMITTENT FASTING EASIER
- Drink plenty of water, herbal teas, coffee and other calorie free beverages to get rid of food cravings
- Avoid drinking artificially flavored drinks.
- Cut back on foods rich in processed carbohydrates and sugars.
- Perform yoga and light exercises regularly
- Avoid strenuous activities on fasting days
- Eat filling yet low-calorie foods, such as raw vegetables, and fruits with high amount of water, such as grapes and melon.
- Eat nutrient-rich foods after the fasting window. Foods that contain good amounts of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other related nutrients
You can also read: 13 Best Weight Loss and Diet Tips for Women