Intermittent Fasting (IF) has absolutely taken the fitness and nutrition world by storm recently.
Millions of people around the world are learning how to do intermittent fasting and totally transforming their bodies from top to bottom – losing pounds and pounds of weight, dramatically improving their strength and endurance, building lean muscle mass, and boosting their overall health and wellness.
Combine that with the fact that clinical research and independent studies from all over the globe are conclusively proving that IF has profound positive impacts on your body as well as your brain it’s easy to see why this nutritional paradigm has become such a game-changer.
At the same time, you shouldn’t feel left out in the cold if you aren’t exactly sure of what IF is or how to best go about it.
In this quick guide we break down not only the different types of intermittent fasting, but also the best way to do intermittent fasting, how long you should do intermittent fasting, and a couple of other tips and tricks that will help you take things to the next level right out of the gate.
Let’s dig right in!
How to Do Intermittent Fasting
The whole idea behind IF is to simply rewire the way that your body fuels and feeds itself by extending the amount of time you go between meals and then packing ALL of your daily caloric intake into a significantly shorter window of time.
The beauty of this approach is that it isn’t focused so much on WHAT you eat as it is so much WHEN you eat. It uses your own body’s natural biochemistry and it’s need for constant fuel sources to provide you with elevated metabolism activity, improved protein synthesis, and much better brain activity (and that only barely begins to scratch the surface of the benefits you’ll see).
A common IF cycle has you doing daily fasts of 16 hours and then packing all of your daily caloric intake into a 24-hour block of time, maybe doing that twice a week when you are just getting started before ramping things up to an almost daily routine.
There are a couple of other intermittent fasting eating schedules that you could choose to stick to – schedules we will touch on in just a second – but the general gist of things is pretty straightforward:
Go a long time each day without eating anything and then eat EVERYTHING in a very short amount of time before rebooting the cycle all over again.
How to Do Intermittent Fasting: The Different Methods Explained and Tips to Succeed
As we highlighted just a second ago, there are a couple of different methodologies out there designed to help you get the very most out of everything IF has to offer.
Fasting has been around for as long as human beings have been eating (which is forever, obviously) even if it wasn’t intentionally practiced by our most ancient ancestors.
Believe it or not, cavemen have a tough time popping down to the local grocery store and picking up a ribeye for dinner each night. They actually had to go out and hunt down their food (sometimes literally), and if they came back empty-handed they weren’t eating that day.
Over thousands and thousands of years, our body naturally evolved to the point where this “sometimes we eat, most of the time we don’t” state of being really became the norm. We still haven’t been able to shake these kinds of trigger points in our own biology – and likely won’t for thousands and thousands of years still – which is why it’s such a good idea to “reboot” your system with this approach.
When you start eating the way that your body is naturally inclined to eat, rather than stuffing yourself all at every opportunity the way that so many of us do, you’re able to unlock significantly improved health, wellness, and even anti-ageing benefits.
Let’s get a little deeper into the optimal fasting schedules and some intermittent fasting tips that can help you hit the ground running.
What are the Different Types of Intermittent Fasting?
While there are an almost infinite amount of ways you could go about making IF a big part of your day-to-day life, the truth the matter is that things really boil down to just three major schools of thought with this dietary approach:
- The 16/8 Method
- The Eat – Stop – Eat Method and
- The 5:2 Diet
Each of these IF methodologies have their pros and cons, work wonders for some folks and not really all that well for others, and definitely deserve you testing them out and experimenting a little bit until you find something that suits your needs and your specific biology right down to the ground.
Breaking Down the 16/8 Method
With the 16/8 Method (sometimes referred to as The Lean Gains Protocol) you are really looking at something that most people find effortless to get started with, especially those that used to look at intermittent fasting as something almost impossible to begin.
The whole process revolves around simply restricting your diet for 16 hours (eating absolutely nothing, but maybe having a glass of water or two if you’re starting to feel hungry) and then consuming all of your daily calories inside of an eight hour block of time.
Now, some people look at the 16/8 Method as an almost impossible standard to hit – never realizing that we all fast for around eight hours when we fall asleep. All you really have to do is not eat for four hours after you have woken up and another four hours before you go to bed (eating all of your food inside of the remaining eight-hour sweet spot in the day) and you are rocking and rolling.
Breaking Down the Eat – Stop – Eat Method
This IF scheduling is a little bit more aggressive than the method that we highlighted above, but some people have found it to be even better at helping folks melt fat from their body and pack on pound after pound of lean muscle mass – while boosting their immune system and energy levels.
With this protocol in place you basically fast completely for a 24-hour block of time once or twice a week.
Yes, that’s right, with this protocol you're giving up food completely – though you can drink water during the day – for an entire 24-hour block of time at least once or twice every week.
Now a lot of people are going to see this and kind of recoil in fear (and that’s an understandable reaction). But when you think back to what we said earlier about how this whole nutritional approach revolves around the way our bodies are required to fuel themselves – and how spotty our ancestors’ daily diets were – it all starts to click.
Breaking Down the 5:2 Diet Method
A bit of a middle ground for those that aren’t quite ready to dive into full on 24 hour fasts but still want to get amazing results, this methodology has you consuming between 500 and 600 cal onto non-consecutive days every week while eating the same way that you always eat for the other five days.
This five days off, today’s on schedule makes it easy to figure out the times to eat when doing intermittent fasting and can be an easier way to kind of gently dip your toe into the IF deep end.
By reducing your overall caloric intake you’re able to trigger the kind of weight loss most folks hope for, but you’re not doing so in such a way that your body reacts with shock and actually sinks into “starvation mode”, protecting your fat stores and actually working against your weight loss efforts.
How Long Should You Do Intermittent Fasting for?
Because you’re going to see some major biochemical changes throughout your body when you choose to do IF you have to be smart about the amount of time you stick to this kind of nutritional protocol.
You’re going to see elevated levels of human growth hormone (sometimes increases as high as five times over). You’re going to see significant improvements to your overall insulin sensitivity while your internal levels of insulin drop dramatically.
You’re going to see natural biochemicals release to improve overall cellular resilience, and you’re going to see significantly boosted protein synthesis as well.
As if all of that wasn’t enough reason to move forward with IF you’re also see improved gene expression – which means you’re able to push back against Father Time and protect your body from disease.
To keep your body on its toes, however, and to keep these benefits from fading away as your body readjusts to this new eating schedule you’ll want to continue shaking things up every now and again.
This is why most practitioners of intermittent fasting recommend that you switch things up every now and again. Go with a strict IF schedule for thirty-day block of time, take two weeks off and eat the way that you used to, and then go back to IF for another 30 days.
Intermittent Fasting Tips
To help make your transition to the world of intermittent fasting a little easier we’ve put together this quick breakdown of tips and tricks you’ll want to keep in your back pocket going forward.
Drink Lots of Water
You need to be sure that you are well hydrated when tackling IF and that means drinking a whole lot more water than you’re probably used to right now. For at least ½ gallon of water down the hatch every single day, and maybe even a little bit more than that.
Eat Healthier While on IF
While you can see tremendous weight loss and health improvement results while on IF eating pretty much anything and everything (remember, this is about WHEN you eat not so much WHAT you eat) you can skyrocket those results by eating a clean diet in combination with intermittent fasting.
The first couple of times you go to work out after you switched to IF you might not really feel like yourself, may even feel that you’re not as energetic or as strong as you were previously. Push through those stumbling blocks and pretty soon you’ll see that not only are you a whole lot more energized than you were previously but you’re also a lot stronger, a lot faster, and enjoy significantly bumped up in endurance, too.
At the end of the day, you really aren’t risking all that much giving intermittent fasting a shot.
The science behind this approach to eating is rock solid, with more research pouring in every day highlighting another big benefit that IF brings to the table.
If you’re sick and tired of feeling like fad diets just aren’t giving you the results you are looking for, and really hope to take things to the next level, intermittent fasting just might be the way to go.