Intermittent fasting is a lifestyle and dietary choice made by people that are seeking health benefits and/or fat loss. The diet allows windows of feasting and fasting. The fasting windows differ for each style of fast; some much longer than others. Nethertheless shorter fasts (less than 24 hours) are more effective for aiding weight loss and extended fasts are generally prescribed for improving health conditions, diabetes being one of them. Extended fasts are not advised if weight loss is the main purpose, pregnant and breastfeeding or suffering from malnutrition. Consulting your doctor is advised if partaking in an extended fast.
Intermittent fasting has become hugely popular for weight loss and longevity since Dr Michael Mosley’s hit BBC Horizon documentary ‘Eat, Fast and Live Longer’. Throughout the documentary Dr Micheal Moseley researched numerous fasting methods and subsequently created his own intermittent fasting pattern of 5:2 – eating a healthy amount of calories 5 days per week and limiting yourself to 500 – 600 calories 2 days per week.
A fast can be as little as 10 hours without food but this fasting window would not be sufficient enough to see significant results. Studies have shown that 12 hours after digesting your last meal the body beginnings to use fat stores as energy. Why? Because your body has burnt the easily accessible energy, glycogen (sugar), and has moved onto the back-up stores. The more frequent you fast the easier it will become to continuously burn that rather than glycogen.
JLO, Chris Hemsworth and NFL player turned actor Terry Crews are just a few of the well known names that pay tribute to intermittent fasting as a way of staying fit and in shape. As for myself, well, I dabbled in IF a few years ago (5:2 to be precise) and recently come back to it. Monday to Friday I follow a version of OMAD aka Warrior diet and on the weekend I open my window a while longer- I need time for cake okay!?! The beauty of this lifestyle is that you can enjoy life without any limits and without counting calories. If you’re interested in learning more about the different types of intermittent fasting for weight loss stay tuned and scroll down.
Made famous by Dr Michal Mosley, this method allows you to eat freely 5 days per week and fast for 2 days. Women are advised to consume 500 calories on fasting days and men are allowed up to 600 calories. Over which period of time calories are consumed is personal preference. Some spread the daily intake over 3 small meals while others have one larger meal. There is no window to eat within. It is also advised the 2 fasting days are not consecutive.
5:2 was my first intermittent fasting method. Before starting the diet I suffered with painful bloating and was constantly puffy and swollen. I had tried low carb diets, counting calories and excessive exercising but couldn’t lose the weight. I was very stressed not knowing why I had formed this alien body shape. After 3 weeks of 5:2 I already saw a big difference and my overall weight loss in approx 2-3 months was 2 stone. Although I stopped 5:2 after 6 months I haven’t had the painful bloating since.
16:8 is another common fasting pattern because of its simplicity and ease. You fast for 16 hours and eat within a 8 hour window. Usually people begin fasting after dinner, sleep for 8 hours, skip breakfast and break fast with lunch. Your body starts burning fat 12 hours after your last meal so you get approx 4 hours of good fat burning time with 16:8.
I personally think 16:8 is the best way for a beginner to start intermittent fasting. I began intermittent fasting again last year using this technique and now practice extended fasts multiple times per week.
You can probably guess by now what 18:6 means. Yep, fasting for 18 hours and eat within a 6 hour window. You get an extra 2 hours of fat burning compared to 16:8 and still able to eat at two traditional meal times.
It’s normal to think fasting is crazy when starting out. I used to be a big breakfast girl. Now I fast for a minimum of 18 hours without thinking about food. If I can do it, you certainly can.
20:4 – OMAD – Warrior Diet
Although there are different names for this method the same window of feast and fasting is applied. I prefer using the term ‘one meal a day’ simply because I do not feast for 4 hours. It takes me about 1 1/2 hours to consume my meal as I now appreciate what I’m eating, savour every bite and chew each mouthful carefully so I can taste the different flavours.
Some people have difference views on what can be consumed during this fast. For example, The Warrior Diet allows small amounts of high protein foods and supplements. I don’t agree with this. I believe that during any fast only water, green tea and black coffee can be taken.
ADF stands for Alternate Day Fasting. Every other day you have only water, black coffee and black and green tea. I’m personally not attracted to this method as I like to reward myself at the end of the day with nutritious and tasty foods. However, we are all different and some people find it too difficult to stop once they start so a complete day’s fasting is suitable for them.
For fat loss and maintaining a healthy lifestyle intermittent fasting wins hands down over calorie restricted diets.
TOP TIP – for beginners wanting to know more about the do’s and don’ts of OMAD check out The Intermittent Fasting Podcast.
Remember, when one window closes another opens. But which window is up to you.
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