Intermittent fasting is an umbrella term that can be used for a variety of types of eating schedules that restrict either the number of calories that you are consuming in a day or the time frame that you are eating per day.
Every person is different and reacts to intermittent fasting differently, however the main benefits that intermittent fasting can provides are:
- Boosts weight loss
- Increases energy and reduces fatigue
- Promotes cell repair and regeneration
- Reduces insulin resistance
- Lowers cholesterol levels
- Boosts memory and concentration
The 5;2 Diet
This is one of the most popular types of intermittent fasting and was popularised by Michael Mosley. It is called the 5;2 diet because on 5 days of the week you eat normally, and then on the other 2 days of the week you consume only 500 calorie a day for women and 600 calories for men. Because there are no restrictions on what you should eat and it is not calorie restricted every single day, this is promoted as more of a lifestyle than a diet and is the reason why it is one of the most followed types of intermittent fasting. However, If you are doing this type of for weight loss, you still need to consider what you are eating on the other 5 days as if you are good for those 2 days and then binge on the other 5, it will have the opposite effect and you could potentially put on weight. This type of diet has been shown to help insulin resistance, asthma, seasonal allergies, heart arrhythmia's and menopausal hot flashes.
Alternate day fasting
Alternate day fasting follows the same principals as the 5;2, although it is more like a 4;3 as you fast every second day. So an example would be
Monday - fast
Tuesday - Normal
Wednesday - fast
Thursday - Normal
Friday - Fast
Saturday - Normal
Sunday - normal
16;8 or 18;6
These types of fasting diets restrict the number of hours that you can eat during the day. So depending on how strict you want to be it can be either 6 or 8 hour window. This type of diet is very good for people that don't generally feel hungry in the mornings and can wait until later in the day to have their first meal. An example is to start eating at 6am and stop at midday or 2pm (depending on whether you are doing a 16 or 18 hour fast). Or start eating at midday and have your last meal at 6 or 8pm. Again with this type of fasting, as with any, you still need to be wary about what you are eating and be consuming healthy, nutritious foods as if you are consuming excess calories within that time frame it is going to have the opposite effect.
The fast 800
This diet was also popularised by Michael Mosley and is where you continuously eat only 800 calories per day which you stay on for a minimum of 2 week and maximum of 12 weeks depending on your weight-loss goals. This is designed to promote rapid weight loss and blood sugar regulation. You can also tie this in with time restricted eating a 16;8 window of eating for those 800 calories. This type of diet is typically a low carb, Mediterranean style diet that is high in fibre, low in carbs, high in vegetables and lean protein, nuts, seeds and good omega 3 fatty acids.
In a nutshell, intermittent fasting could be a great way to help you regulate your appetite, metabolism or to help aid weight loss. There is no one type that is going to be better than the rest and what type of intermittent fasting you try is going to be depending on your lifestyle, how active you are, your goals (whether weight loss or just health) and how strict you want too be. The main thing is though, if one isn’t working try another one. There are so many options and types of fasting that you may need to try a few before you find one that really works and suits you.