You've probably heard about or come across an article talking about intermittent fasting. Essentially, the idea is that you are more closely aligning with the natural inclination of your biology by restricting your feeding window.
Instead of eating small portions every two to three hours, you have extended periods of fasting, followed by a defined window of feasting. Human beings have been following this pattern of consumption for thousands of years out of sheer necessity and even though most of us have access to food any time we want, that doesn't mean your biology has changed.
We've covered some of the benefits of intermittent fasting in both a video and an article so we won't cover that here. What I want to give you here is a few different patterns of intermittent fasting that may fit into your lifestyle.
It is important to keep in mind that with any of these templates the types of foods you eat still matters. Target nutrient dense foods such as colorful veggies, good quality proteins, organ meats, etc.
16/8 intermittent fasting is probably the most popular and widely practiced template. It's a daily practice with little variation from day to day, and is favored for its simplicity, convenience, and efficacy.
Here's how to do it:
- Fast for 16 hours straight
- Consume all of your calories within the next 8 hours
Here's an example: Let's say you eat dinner at 8 pm and that is your last meal of the day. You would then fast until 12 pm the next day, at which time you would break your fast.
A lot of folks also break their fast right after a workout. So in the above example, if you can hit the gym at 10:30 or 11:00, that would be ideal.
This is my preferred method.
The 5:2 Diet
I hesitate to call this true intermittent fasting, but it's worth mentioning in this discussion. Essentially, you eat normally five days of the week, then restrict calories to 500 per day for women and 600 per day for men the other two days.
You are free to choose your calorie restricted days, as long as you have at least one day of standard eating in between. Here's how this could potentially be done:
- Sunday and Monday eat normally
- Tuesday restrict calories
- Wednesday and Thursday eat normally
- Friday restrict calories
- Saturday eat normally
This method has gained in popularity especially in the UK.
I do not find this method optimal for myself but do know several people who've committed to this lifestyle and have had great results.
Alternative Day Fasting
OK, this can be tough - it's pretty self-explanatory though. You fast every other day. There's actually a few ways to do this:
- Water only fast every other day
- Dry fast (no water or any other drinks) every other day (I really don't recommend this)
- Extreme calorie restriction (500 calories from bone broth or veggies) every other day
Whichever path you choose, this one is mentally tough, especially in the early going.
Eat - Stop - Eat
This method is based on the book of the same name by Brad Pilon.
The long and short of this method is a 24 hour fast once or twice per week. Water, coffee, and other non-caloric beverages are allowed, but no solid food.
One Meal a Day
One meal a day (or OMAD if you're super cool) is as simple as it sounds.
All you do is fast for 23 hours, then you have an hour to stuff your pie hole. You can choose the meal, and some versions of this diet even allow for a couple eggs or an apple here and there.
Green tea, coffee, and water are also allowed.
The Warrior Diet
The Warrior Diet was my first introduction to intermittent fasting, and my results were fantastic. I got very lean and ripped, had a ton of energy, and generally felt great.
The warrior diet doesn't have a specific time window. You essentially fast all day, then have a large meal at night. That final meal is very akin to a paleo style meal, and follows a specific progression of foods.
During the day, you are allowed to have some raw veggies and raw low glycemic fruits in small quantities. I liked this option for the days when I would just get totally famished by about 2. I could grab an apple and a couple almonds and I was good to go.
This is not an exhaustive list, but it is a condensed explanation of the most popular methods. If you're keen to start trying this lifestyle and reaping the benefits that come with it, you can choose one and get started.
Don't be hard on yourself if you have a hard adjustment period though. It does take some getting used to. Once you do though, you will have a hard time going back!