Intermittent fasting is practiced by athletes and celebrities the world over. And, with so many people combining it with keto diets, you’re bound to know someone who is using this method to lose body fat and gain lean muscle.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
In case you’re not down with the term, intermittent fasting (IF) is a type of eating plan that involves alternate periods of eating and fasting. Only water, coffee, or tea are allowed. Because you can eat what you want during the times you can eat, IF works for a lot of people. It’s straightforward, and you can tailor the diet to your specific requirements.
However, intermittent fasting isn’t for everyone. Intermittent fasting can be a tough diet to stick to if you like to snack and feel hungry when you can’t. Still, it’s worth a shot for people who want to lose weight and can make fasting work with their schedule.
Also, IF has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, lower cholesterol, reduce inflammation, and support your immune system, giving you clearer skin and better sleep too.
It can also be an excellent way to practice mindful eating habits. There are numerous fasting schedules to choose from, so you can experiment to see which one works best for you.
Yet, is there one intermittent fasting schedule that is best for weight loss?
Here are five popular intermittent fasting plans to try for weight loss. Remember, the most successful diet is one that you can stick to.
The 16:8 Diet
This plan means fasting for 16 hours every day and limiting your daily eating window to eight hours. For most people, this schedule means skipping breakfast and not eating anything after dinner. For example, one could eat between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.
So how does the 16:8 method shake out for weight loss?
Limited research suggests that it could work. A short study published in ‘Nutrition and Healthy Aging’ followed 23 obese men and women for 12 weeks on the 16:8 diet.
The subjects consumed on average 350 fewer calories per day than those who ate normally and lost weight. Still, it’s important to note that this was a limited study, and few others have looked specifically into the 16:8 diet, so it’s difficult to say that following the 16:8 diet is a surefire way to lose weight.
The 5:2 Diet
The 5:2 diet requires you to eat normally five days a week and cut back to 20% of your normal daily calorie intake the other two. On “fasting” days, women are supposed to eat 500 calories, while men consume 600.
This IF method has resulted in more fat loss than s day-to-day calorie restriction. However, because research is limited, it’s difficult to draw conclusive evidence based on one study.
Alternate Day Fasting
There are several versions, with some allowing 500 calories on fasting days and others encouraging you to eat even less on fasting days. Many existing studies on the health benefits of IF used some form of this diet, though much of the weight loss-focused research has been inconclusive.
Eat Stop Eat
This method has you on a 24-hour fast once or twice a week. For example, you could eat dinner at 6 p.m. and then fast until 6 p.m. the next day one or two times per week—but not consecutively.
Again there is limited research on this method, but because of the calorie reduction, it is likely to result in weight loss if you can stick to it.
This one is similar to the 16:8 method in that it involves fasting for 14 hours and eating for 10. Because you have a longer eating window, it’s easier to stick to than 16:8, but it may be less effective for weight loss.
Because the fasting period is short, it may be difficult for some people to achieve a caloric deficit with this diet. If you’re new to IF, this may be a good way to ease in.
The “Warrior” has the most eating happening at night. You’ll be eating only small amounts of raw fruits and vegetables during the day and then devouring one large meal at night within a 4-hour window.
The Warrior Diet lacks research, but because the “fasting” periods allow for some food intake, it may be more practical for some people. However, the period when you can eat more is very short, and the diet also includes paleo foods, making it stricter than other types of IF. If you cut out the snacks and keto restrictions, this is called One Meal A Day or “OMAD.”
Which intermittent fasting plan works best for weight loss? This means picking a diet that is compatible with your lifestyle.
With so many different fasting styles and lifestyles, there’s not one be-all-end-all fasting style.
That said, the 16:8 diet appears to be the most manageable intermittent fasting plan for most people. It helps in preventing nighttime binge eating, which can be a major impediment to weight loss. An eight-hour window allows you to fuel up for energy during the day and stop eating for rest and recovery at night.
Still Can’t Pick?
If you’re still having trouble picking a style of fasting that’s right for you, consider the stages that your body goes through when you’re fasting. If you know what metabolic benefits you’re looking for can tell you what style of fasting will be the best fit for you.