Intermittent Fasting Protocols
There are several different ways of doing intermittent fasting — all of which involve splitting the day or week into eating and fasting periods.
During the fasting periods, you eat either very little or nothing at all.
What most people do (including myself) is eat nothing in the morning except for water and black coffee. I normally eat eggs with lots of veggies around noon, and then my last meal is around 7:30 or 8pm.
Most Popular Intermittent Fasting Methods
The 16:8 Method (or Leangains)
Many people find the 16:8 method to be the easiest, most sustainable and simplest to stick to. It’s also the most popular. It involves skipping breakfast and restricting your daily eating period to 8 hours, like 12-8 like I do. Then you fast for 16 hours in between. Basically it’s just skipping one meal!
Some people only eat in a 6-hour window, or even a 4-hour window. This is “feasting” and “fasting” parts of your days and the most common form of intermittent fasting.
It fits pretty seamlessly into most lifestyles, seeing as how you can choose to skip either breakfast or dinner, depending on your personal preferences. Also, you’re sleeping during a good chunk of the fasting window, which makes it easier.
The 16:8 principle is flexible enough to be overlapped with any other diet. It’s important to try to limit carbs as they tend to cause cravings. Try to avoid pasta, bread, cereal, rice, potatoes, and fruit juices in order to have the most success.
The 5:2 Diet
With this method, you consume only 500–600 calories on two non-consecutive days of the week, but eat normally the other 5 days.
One common way of planning the week is to fast on Mondays and Thursdays, with two or three small meals, then eat normally for the rest of the week.
You can choose whichever two days of the week you prefer, as long as there is at least one non-fasting day in between them.
For example, you can fast on Monday and Thursday but eat clean meals on the other days. Food on these five days will look just like the rest of the fasting plans—healthy fats, clean meat sources, vegetables, and some fruit.
The biggest advantage of this intermittent fasting is that you don’t need to do it every day. And you’re allowed to eat whatever you like during your non-fast days. Keep in mind you should still maintain a balanced, healthy diet for best results.
Keep in mind that this plan is not for beginners, and you should always talk to your doctor before starting any fasting regimen, especially if you are on medication or have a medical condition.
The Warrior Diet
On The Warrior Diet, you fast for about 20 hours, have a short high intensity workout, and eat your food within 4 hours. Generally, it would include either 2 smaller meals with a break in between or one single large feast.
The Warrior Diet is based on the eating patterns of ancient warriors, who consumed little during the day and then feasted at night. Exercise is also integrated into the plan, and workouts usually are scheduled during the times you are not eating.
People following this diet under-eat for 20 hours per day, then consume as much food as desired at night.
During the 20-hour fasting period, dieters are encouraged to consume small amounts of dairy products, hard-boiled eggs and raw fruits and vegetables, as well as plenty of non-calorie fluids.
After 20 hours, people can essentially binge on any foods they want within a four-hour overeating window. Unprocessed, healthy and organic food choices are encouraged.
Followers of the Warrior Diet claim that this method of eating burns fat, improves concentration, boosts energy levels and stimulates cellular repair.
24 Hour Fasting
This schedule is good for just about anyone, but especially if you’ve already experimented with shorter fasting windows, you might want to give this one a try. It tends to hit the sweet spot for most people as far as being manageable while still providing noticeable benefits.
You can adjust this window to make it work for your life.
This way of doing intermittent fasting involves fasting from dinner to dinner (or lunch to lunch). If you eat dinner on day 1, you would skip the next day’s breakfast and lunch and eat dinner again on day 2. This means that you are still eating daily, but only once during that day. This would generally be done two to three times per week. If you’re just starting out, you may even do just one day a week.
Fasting completely for 1 or 2 days a week, known as the Eat-Stop-Eat diet, involves eating no food for 24 hours at a time. Many people fast from breakfast to breakfast or lunch to lunch.
Skipping two meals one day, where you are taking 24 hours off from eating. For example, eating on a normal schedule (finishing dinner at 8PM) and then not eating again until 8PM the following day.
People on this diet plan can have water, tea, and other calorie-free drinks during the fasting period.
A 24-hour fast can be challenging, and it might cause irritability, fatigue, and/or headaches. Many people find that these effects become less extreme over time. Your body just needs time to adjust to this new pattern of eating.
Some people may benefit from trying a 12-hour or 16-hour fast before transitioning to the 24-hour fast. This protocol is often very challenging for people with an active career or lifestyle.
You would eat your normal 3 meals per day, and then occasionally pick a day to skip breakfast and lunch the next day.
If you can only do an 18 hour fast, or a 20 hour fast, or a 22 hour fast – that’s okay! Adjust with different time frames and see how your body responds.
By reducing your calorie intake, all of these methods should cause weight loss as long as you don’t compensate by eating much more during the eating periods.