If you’re wondering: How to do intermittent fasting, what intermittent fasting is, what are the different types, or if it’s even good for you… You’re in luck because today we’re going to answer all those questions.
You’ll finish this post well-educated on intermittent fasting benefits, research, weight loss, and so much more. If you found this post it’s because you’re asking google to help you figure something out about this new diet fad. And my dear friend, we’re going to leave you with everything you need.
Click on one of the headers below to jump to a particular section.
Table of Contents
What Is Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is an umbrella term that includes several different approaches to fasting. Regardless of the type of intermittent fasting, they all include periods where little to no food is eaten and periods were regular (sometimes unlimited) amounts of food are eaten.
Most types of intermittent fasting falling into two categories: alternate day & time-restricted fasting.
Because of the endless variation it can be hard to definitively answer “what intermittent fasting is”.
Fasting periods can run from 8 – 48 hours. Forms of intermittent fasting that include fasting days lasting 24+ hours, allow you to eat between 0-30% of your normal calorie needs on those fasting days.
Fasting that lasts 8-20 hours allows you to eat normal amounts of food during a predetermined window of time.
- For example: A common form of daily intermittent fasting lets you eat between 11am and 7pm, 7 days a week. And other types allow food to be eaten in a 12-hour, 7am-7pm time window.
There are also types of intermittent fasting that limit you to 1 or 2 meals per day and specify when you’re to eat those meals.
So what is intermittent fasting?
There’s a few caveats though (isn’t there always?) that we’ll cover in the “how to” section…
What Are The Different Types Of Intermittent Fasting
There are many ways to do intermittent fasting but these are the main types. Time-restricted and periodic fasting are the forms of intermittent fasting that have adjustable “wiggle” room.
- Alternate day fasting – full or reduced calorie fasts occur every other day. With reduced calorie fasts, approximately 25% of your normal calorie needs are eaten on fast days. On non-fast days regular healthy plant-based meals are eaten without restriction.
- 5:2 fasting – a variation of alternate day fasting with full or reduced calorie fasting occuring 2 consecutive days per week. Unrestricted healthy plant-based meals are eaten the other 5 days.
- Periodic fasting – going without all calorie containing food and drinks for 24 hours. As titled, this form of fasting is repeated “periodically” and is another form of alternate day fasting.
- Time restricted fasting – eating is limited to a 4-12 hour window and fasting is done each day, usually over a 12-20 hour time frame. Most fasting begins after a 5-7pm meal.
Is Intermittent Fasting Good For You
Since God created Adam and Eve, people have been fasting. Fasting is even called for in Scripture so no, fasting isn’t going to hurt you and it’s likely even good for you.
The question is:
If you’re wanting to fast as a means of drawing closer to God, it’ll benefit you.
If you’re wanting to fast to lose weight or improve some aspect of your health, it may or may not benefit you.
Many of the studies that caused intermittent fasting to rise to diet “fad” fame were studies done on rodents. And…rodent’s aren’t people.
The long-term effects of intermittent fasting have yet to be studied in humans, so it’s impossible to say if it’s good for you. We can speculate, but we don’t have concrete scientific proof at this time.
Intermittent Fasting Benefits
More recent human studies have found people
- lose weight,
- improve body composition,
- cholesterol, and
- blood sugar
but not because they were following a specific form of intermittent fasting. These things happened because people were eating less food.
And the intermittent fasting results were no better than what happens when people follow traditional, calorie reduced diets.
As we’ve said before, it’s not about chasing every new fad. It’s about finding a way of eating that fits your lifestyle and can be sustained for life.
This is how you lose and maintain a healthy weight.
Is intermittent fasting good for you?
There’s a good chance it is, but it’s still too early to say.
Bottom line: calorie reduction improves weight, body composition, cholesterol, and blood sugar – regardless of the type of diet you follow.
How To Do Intermittent Fasting
First, If you’re pregnant, nursing, or struggle with eating disorders you shouldn’t do intermittent fasting. If you’re taking medicine to manage blood sugar you need to talk with a nutritionist or doctor before experimenting with fasting.
For everyone else, how you do intermittent fasting depends on the type of fasting you want to do. The following instructions will help you do any type of intermittent fasting you choose.
Now for those “caveats” I alluded to earlier…
- Circadian Rhythm: The timing of your meals should follow the circadian rhythm or natural light-dark cycles. This allows your body to operate and heal as God created it to. Many of the health benefits of intermittent fasting occur when people eat in step with the circadian rhythm.
- Whole Foods Plant-Based: Research has found that intermittent fasting provides the most benefits when sugars are avoided and the food people eat is primarily healthy plant-based whole foods.
- Physical Activity: Research has also found that intermittent fasting works better when people live an active lifestyle. Click here for more on living an active lifestyle.
While much of the blogosphere will say you can eat “whatever” you want during your eating windows, the scientific research shows differently.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to the rest of “how” you do intermittent fasting.
Drink water, lots and lots of it.
Water is critical if you’re going to do intermittent fasting. On fast days you’re goal should be to drink close to your weight in water ounces. On non-fasting days your goal should be ½ your weight in water ounces.
Determine your type.
What kind of intermittent fasting fits with your lifestyle and is something you can stick with for the long haul? Pick one of the below intermittent fasting types and then adjust it to fit your life.
Alternate day fasting.
Choose the number of days you’ll fast, the days you’ll eat, and/or the frequency you’ll repeat the cycle. Periodic, 5:2, and every other day fasts are all forms of alternate day fasting.
Eat between 0-30% of your caloric needs on your fasting days and healthy plant-based food your non-fasting days. Click here for more plant-based diet resources.
Time restricted fasting.
Decide when you’ll eat, how many meals you’ll eat, and times you’ll be fasting. Then it’s as easy as sticking to it. Putting your eating window in the first half of the day appears to improve blood sugar but results are still mixed.
Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss
If you’re wanting to do intermittent fasting for weight loss, you still have to decrease the amount of food you eat. For most women this means eating about 500 fewer calories than you normally do each day. Granted, this number is very general and depends on a lot of different factors.
So, begin decreasing the amount you eat until you’re losing 1-2 pounds per week.
You’ll also want to choose an intermittent fasting type that allows for 16-24 hour fasting windows. Fat burning typically begins after you’ve fasted for 12 hours but increases rapidly after 16-24 hours of fasting.
Please Remember This…
If you remember nothing else remember this: Intermittent fasting doesn’t work any better for weight loss than regular ‘ol calorie restriction. And the only way intermittent fasting will work for weight loss is if you stick with it.
Keywords = stick with it.
That’s the problem with every single fad diet that hits the internet – people can’t stick with them and end up calling themselves a failure instead of realizing it was the diet that failed.
If you didn’t read “Why Diets Don’t Work and What to do Instead” please do.
If you’re doing intermittent fasting for health benefits and not weight loss, good for you. The research is slowly trickling in and looks promising when it comes to overall health and longevity.
But we all need to realize that unless a health condition requires a very specific diet, a healthy plant based diet is the only diet to follow.
Yes, I said “only”.
Please, please, please Do not Yo-Yo Diet.
Do not jump from fad diet to fad diet in an attempt to lose weight and change something about your body. Diets will fail you every single time. You won’t fail but they will. Instead, choose a health-promoting way of eating you can sustain for life.
Notice something about this intermittent fasting “what” and “how to” stuff?
You benefit from intermittent fasting when simple straightforward healthy lifestyle practices are in place. These same healthy lifestyle practices produce the benefits people are looking to intermittent fasting for, just without the need for fasting.
For more on healthy plant based diets click any of the titles below:
- A Beginners Guide to Doing a Plant Based Diet Right
- A Woman’s Guide to Doing Keto Right
- How to Start a Mediterranean Diet in 11 Easy Steps
Until next time remember…
Think about those things as you’re deciding
- what to eat,
- what diet to follow, and
- how you’re going to care for your body.
I pray you choose to eat foods that keep your beautiful body in great shape so you can joyfully do all God created you for.