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4 Ways to Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting has proven to have many health benefits. Promoting weight loss, improved metabolic health and even an extended lifespan. Not surprisingly given the popularity, several different types/methods of intermittent fasting have been devised.

All of them can be effective, but which one fits best will depend on the individual.

Here are 4 popular ways to do intermittent fasting.

1. The 16/8 Method: Fast for 16 hours each day.

The 16/8 Method involves fasting every day for 14-16 hours, and restricting your daily "eating window" to 8-10 hours.

Within the eating window, you can fit in 2, 3 or more meals.

This method is also known as the Leangains protocol, and was popularized by fitness expert Martin Berkhan.

Doing this method of fasting can actually be as simple as not eating anything after dinner, and skipping breakfast.

For example, if you finish your last meal at 8 pm and then don't eat until 12 noon the next day, then you are technically fasting for 16 hours between meals.

It is generally recommended that women only fast 14-15 hours, because they seem to do better with slightly shorter fasts.

For people who get hungry in the morning and like to eat breakfast, then this can be hard to get used to at first. However, many breakfast skippers actually instinctively eat this way.

You can drink water, coffee and other non-caloric beverages during the fast, and this can help reduce hunger levels.

It is very important to eat mostly healthy foods during your eating window. This won't work if you eat lots of junk food or excessive amounts of calories.

2. The 5:2 Diet: Fast for 2 days per week.

The 5:2 diet involves eating normally 5 days of the week, while restricting calories to 500-600 on two days of the week.

This diet is also called the Fast diet, and was popularized by British journalist and doctor Michael Mosley.

On the fasting days, it is recommended that women eat 500 calories, and men 600 calories.

For example, you might eat normally on all days except Mondays and Thursdays, where you eat two small meals (250 calories per meal for women, and 300 for men).

3. Eat-Stop-Eat: Do a 24-hour fast, once or twice a week.

Eat-Stop-Eat involves a 24-hour fast, either once or twice per week.

This method was popularized by fitness expert Brad Pilon, and has been quite popular for a few years.

By fasting from dinner one day, to dinner the next, this amounts to a 24-hour fast.

For example, if you finish dinner on Monday at 7 pm, and don't eat until dinner the next day at 7 pm, then you've just done a full 24-hour fast. You can also fast from breakfast to breakfast, or lunch to lunch. The end result is the same.

Water, coffee and other non-caloric beverages are allowed during the fast, but no solid food.

* If you are doing this to lose weight, then it is very important that you eat normally during the eating periods. As in, eat the same amount of food as if you hadn't been fasting at all.

The problem with this method is that a full 24-hour fast can be fairly difficult for many people.

4. Alternate-Day Fasting: Fast every other day.

Alternate-Day fasting means fasting every other day. There are several different versions of this. Some of them allow about 500 calories during the fasting days.

Many of the lab studies showing health benefits of intermittent fasting used some version of this.

A full fast every other day seems rather extreme, so I do not recommend this for beginners.

With this method, you will be going to bed very hungry several times per week, which is not very pleasant and probably unsustainable in the long-term.