There are several different methods for intermittent fasting, each of which consists of different fasting and feeding windows to support different goals.Here are some of the most common types of intermittent fasting.
1) Time-Restricted Eating: This is a great approach for beginners. Time-Restricted Eating simply involves not eating between dinner and breakfast the next day. If you’ve ever gone to bed a few hours after dinner, gotten a full night’s sleep, and waited a few hours to eat breakfast, you’ve already done this type of fast!
2) Fasting Duration: 10-14 hours What This Looks Like: If dinner ends at 8 PM, bedtime is at 10 PM, wake up at 6 AM, breakfast would be eaten between 8and 10 AM. Only water is consumed during the fasting window – no other beverages and no supplements. Frequency: Daily.
3) 16:8 Fasting: Also known as the LeanGains Method, 16:8 fasting involves fasting for 16 hours each day – as simple as skipping breakfast. This method is popular because a full day’s worth of food could be fit into the feeding window, making it easy to sustain long-term.
4) Fasting Duration: 16 hours. What This Looks Like: If dinner ends at 8 PM, eating would resume at 12 PM on the next day. Feeding could be compressed into an even shorter window of 6 hours after fasting for 18. Frequency: Daily.
5) Eat-STOP-Eat: Perhaps the simplest fasting protocol, the Eat-STOP-Eat method involves fasting for 24 hours once or twice a week. It’s highly effective for people who have a lot of weight to lose. Fasting Duration: 24hours. What This Looks Like: If dinner ends at 7 PM, eating would not resume until 7 PM the next day. Frequency: 1-2x per week.
So, which type of intermittent fasting is best for you?
The truth is that there is no one-size-fits-all answer: you must choose which method is the most sustainable for your lifestyle. Here are some guidelines that apply to all types of intermittent fasting.
1) How Long to Fast: The ideal length of fast depends on what your body can tolerate. Start with a short fast of 12 hours and work up from thereby adding just an hour at a time.
2) How Often to Fast: Some people fast for 12-18 hours each day, others prefer less frequent fasts of up to 24 hours. The key is to choose a protocol that’s sustainable and fits effortlessly into your schedule.
3) What to Eat Before Fasting: Prior to your fast, have a reasonably sized meal with protein for satiety, fiber to slow digestion, and fat to provide you with slow-burning energy.
4) What to Eat to Break a Fast: You can break a short fast (12-16 hours) with a normal-sized meal comprised of healthy, whole foods. For longer fasts, consider starting with some bone broth and digestifs like lemon and apple cider vinegar to ease the body back into eating.
5) What to Consume While Fasting: Most experts agree that you should consume water and avoid significant sources of calories during fasting.However, even the top fasting experts can’t come to a consensus on what exactly breaks a fast. Dr. Satchin Panda believes that anything aside from water will break a fast, Dr. Jason Fung believes that zero-calorie beverages like coffee and tea will not break a fast, while Dr. Valter Longo’s Fasting-Mimicking Diet involves consuming small amounts of food while still reaping the benefits of fasting.
All of that conflicting information can feel confusing, but here’s a simple solution: instead of worrying about what “breaks” a fast, consider how what you consume can enhance or inhibit the benefits of a fast.
Here are a few other things you can consume to make intermittent fasting easier and accelerate weight loss:
1) Black Coffee and Tea, Fat Coffee: Caffeine can help suppress hunger and increase fat oxidation. The polyphenols in these beverages might even enhance autophagy during fasting.
2) Electrolytes: If you only drink water during your fasting window then you flush out electrolytes, which are vital for basic physiological functions. You can maintain electrolyte balance by simply adding 1 to 2 teaspoons of sea salt or supplemental electrolytes to your first glass of water each day.
3) Essential Amino Acids (EAAs): Though EAAs have been shown to inhibit autophagy, they can make fasting easier and more sustainable by suppressing hunger and cravings, improving energy levels, maintaining muscle mass, and supporting training in a fasted state.
In other words, if your primary goal for fasting is to lose weight and improve body composition,EAAs will not negatively impact your fast and will likely improve your results. Look for an EAA formula that has minimal calories and is free of added fillers or sugars, as those components will take you out of a fasted state.
Listen to your body as you experiment with intermittent fasting. If you’re losing fat, feeling good, and performing well during your fasting window, then keep it going! If you find yourself feeling sluggish and see your weight stalling, then modify as necessary. Fasting has many health benefits, but it doesn’t always work for everyone. Remember to consult with your doctor no matter which protocol you choose!