Recently, celebrities and influencers have been raving about a different diet fad – intermittent fasting (IF). Much like the name eludes to, intermittent fasting is an eating schedule in which you fast for certain periods of time throughout the day or week and then eat like normal during the periods where you are not fasting. Some people even take it a step further and combine their fasting schedule with a diet during the times when they eat, throwing extra caution to their caloric intake.
Since the plan is generally less focused on the diet of foods that you consume and more centered around how often you eat, it has become quite popular. Since the trend is newer, the health benefits of IF are still not completely proven, but many have found success in weight loss and boosted metabolic health from it. One of the more appealing aspects of the plan is that it can be customized to fit your schedule, and there are several popular variations to IF.
The 16:8 method
The 16:8 method is perhaps the most common schedule that those who try IF follow. Much like it sounds, the method involves a 16 hour fast followed by an 8-hour eating window. If you are receiving the recommended 8 hours of sleep per night, then you have already completed half of the fasting – making it pretty simple to follow. Most participants find success in skipping breakfast and ceasing to eat after dinner with this method. There is also a 14:10 variation to this method, which just slightly decreases the fasting period.
The 5:2 method
Rather than fasting every day, the 5:2 method allows for your usual eating habits for 5 days of the week. The other 2 days are then restricted to a 500-600 calorie diet, typically consisting of 2 small meals and no snacks throughout the day. This method can also help train your body to fight hunger with smaller meals. There is also an alternate-day variation to this method, where you limit your caloric intake to 500-600 calories every other day, instead of just twice per week.
This method is one of the more extreme as the fasting periods are 24 hours long. Depending on your health goals and personal schedule, you can fast for 1 or 2 whole days per week. With a diet this extreme, it is important to be consistent about your eating on the non-fast days. Gradually building up to 24 hours is also recommended.
No matter what IF method you want to try, it is important to consider your personal health at the forefront.