Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and periods of eating. It doesn’t dictate which foods you can eat but instead focuses on when you should eat.
During intermittent fasting, you follow a specific pattern each day. This pattern dictates the blocks of time when you are fasting and when you are eating. For each of the intermittent fasting plans, you can have coffee, tea, and water.
Keep in mind that with any of the intermittent fasting protocols, the healthier you eat during the eating periods, the more effective the plan. Overindulging or consuming large amounts of junk food does not help your body.
It is Flexible and There are Many Options
The intermittent fasting process is very flexible. Select the one that works best for your lifestyle and schedule.
Types of Intermittent Fasting
The following are some popular intermittent fasting protocols:
— 12/12 – The 12/12 allows you to eat during a 12-hour window then you fast for the next 12-hour window. This is extremely easy to do because you can count the time you are asleep as part of the 12-hour fasting period.
— 5/2 – The 5/2 diet allows you to eat the way you normally would for 5 days out of the week, then on 2 days of your choice, you reduce your food intake to 500-600 calories.
— 16/8 (also known as LeanGains) – This option allows you to eat for 8 hours, then fast for 16 hours. You should do it as often as possible. 16/8 is the most popular method because people find it to be the easiest and most sustainable.
— Eat-Stop-Eat/24-Hour – With this plan, you fast for 24 hours then you have a 24-hour period where you can eat. You don’t have the calorie allotment as you do with the 5:2 plan, but you may have water, coffee, or tea.
Tips for Beginning Intermittent Fasting
Select a Plan.
Decide which protocol you would like to follow, then plan out your week. You want to make sure you know when you will eat, what to eat, and how much. I find it helpful to use the calendar on my phone to track my days.
Ease into it.
It is best to start with simpler protocols, like a 12-12 or 16-8 where you still have a large window of eating. Wait a bit before you go to the full 24-hour fasting protocols.
Listen to your body.
The intermittent fasting method you are using may not work well for you, so if you notice negative side effects, go back to your normal way of eating.
What Does it all Mean?
Intermittent fasting works for most people. By reducing your calorie intake, each of these methods will cause weight loss if you don’t over-compensate by eating much more or by consuming large amounts of unhealthy food during the eating periods. It is essential that you eat healthy foods during eating times.
*Always consult with your physician before beginning any new diet.