Intermittent fasting is one of the most popular techniques for weight loss and is utilised by many athletes who wish to remain lean all year round. There are several different versions of intermittent fasting, which are suited to different individuals. Finding the best method for you is crucial if you want to achieve optimal results.
This article will cover the different types of intermittent fasting, the advantages of each and who they are best suited for.
#1: 16/8 (Leangains)
Essentially, when following the ‘leangains’ protocol, you allocate yourself a specific ‘feeding window’ each day, where you fast for the remainder of the day.
Typically, men will fast for 16 hours, giving themselves an 8 hour feeding window, while women will fast for 14 hours, giving themselves a 10 hour feeding window.
During the fasting period, you will consume zero calories.
✓ Black coffee
✓ Some people allow up 1 serving of BCAAs, however that’s down to personal choice
Most people who follow the leangains protocol will fast through the night and into the morning, skipping breakfast. They will then break the fast at around 12:00pm and finish the feeding window at around 8:00pm.
This protocol is optimal for those who have a busy schedule, as well as dedicated gym goers who wish to build muscle with minimal fat accumulation.
It is also great to use if looking to lose fat. Find out more about intermittent fasting 16:8.
#2: 5:2 Diet
This alternation of intermittent fasting involves eating your regular meals for 5 days of the week, whilst restricting yourself to around 500 calories for 2 days of the week. It is recommended that men eat 600 calories on the fasting days, whilst women should eat 500 calories.
Essentially, this will give you similar benefits to the 16/8 protocol, but you are just spending a longer time in a fasted state, meaning that you can eat normally for most of the days in a week.
For some people, this can be tougher to follow than the 16/8 protocol; it’s just down to personal preference. Find out more about the 5:2 Diet.
#3: The Warrior Diet
The warrior diet is similar again to the 16/8 protocol, however it takes it to a slightly more extreme level. This time, you will be fasting for 20 hours per day, giving yourself only a 4 hour eating window.
Throughout the 20 hours window, you are allowed to have a few small helpings of fruit or vegetables, as well as a small helping of protein. This is because the window is not as much about ‘fasting’, but more about ‘under eating’.
The warrior diet is designed to help improve:
✓ Energy levels
✓ Promote fat burning
This is because it helps to maximise the parasympathetic nervous system’s ability to help your body recover, which is done through ‘overeating’ in the short 4 hour window.
This diet is optimal for those who do not want to go completely without food throughout the day, since it allows you to still have small portions of certain snacks to keep you going.
However, there aren’t any particular guidelines for what can and cannot be eaten at certain points, it is up to interpretation somewhat. Furthermore, having such as strict eating schedule can interfere with social aspects, such as going out with friends etc. This is why some people opt to combine the warrior diet and the 16/8 protocol!
#4: Eat Stop Eat
Essentially, all you really do is implement one or two 24 hour fasts into your weekly routine. This can be at any point throughout the week, or on a set day each week. Throughout the fast, no food whatsoever should be consumed, although calorie-free drinks are allowed.
The idea is that once you have finished the fast, you go back to eating as normal. The principal behind it is that you are just reducing your overall weekly calories through the 1 or 2 fast days. This means you don’t have to change what you eat or when you eat most days.
Whilst 24 hours might seem like a long time to fast for in the beginning, you can gradually build up to it by implementing shorter fasting windows.
However, some people just physically won’t be able to go that long without food as they may experience symptoms such as headaches, nausea or dizziness. If this is the case then the ‘eat stop eat’ variation of IF may not be for you.
Take Home Message
Each of these intermittent fasting protocols are excellent tools for weight loss as well as maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle. You should be sure to try them out and work out which one will work best for you.
There are also some other less popular methods of intermittent fasting, such as spontaneous meal skipping and alternate day fasting – both of which are pretty self-explanatory.
Remember, IF is not a miracle diet and is merely an eating schedule. You need to ensure you have your diet correct and your fitness right if you want to reach your goals.
Always remember to consult your doctor before embarking upon any restrictive eating plan.