Intermittent fasting has been shown to help produce steady weight loss and improve a wide variety of health conditions, both physical and mental. Intermittent fasting, also known as IF, involves fasting for specific periods of time to enable the body to heal itself. There are several different types of IF eating plans, which enables most people to find a plan that suits their lifestyle.
The 5:2 Plan
The 5:2 plan is one of the most common types of intermittent fasting. People using the 5:2 plan eat their normal diet five days a week, with no food or calorie restrictions at all on non-fasting days. On the two fasting days of each week, followers of the eating plan typically eat between 500-600 calories a day, usually split between breakfast and an evening meal. Ideally, there should be a period of around 12 hours in between breakfast and the evening meal where no calories are consumed.
The 16:8 Plan
The 16:8 plan is another popular type of intermittent fasting that involves fasting for 16 hours a day, every day of the week. Followers of this plan typically eat their last meal of the day around 7pm and then don’t eat again until 11am the next day. The 16:8 plan is often seen as a more family-friendly alternative to the 5:2 plan, as followers can eat a regular lunch and evening meal with their friends and family. However, people living with some digestive disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), may experience stomach pain or excess gas when they skip breakfast, so this plan is not suitable for everyone.
The Alternate Day Plan
The alternate day plan requires followers to fast on alternate days, while eating their regular diet on non-fasting days. Most people eat around 400-600 calories on fasting days, although some people prefer to cut out food altogether. This type of intermittent fasting has been well-researched and the results have shown a wide range of benefits for health and weight control. However, alternate day fasting is often difficult to maintain, as it can interfere with family and social activities.
The 24-Hour Plan
The 24-hour fast plan involves fasting for 24 hours once or twice a week. Unlike with most intermittent fasting plans, followers avoid food completely for a 24-hour period and drink only water, black coffee and herbal teas. Fasting for a whole day can be extremely difficult, so many people find it easier to gradually increase the amount of time they spend without food from 12 to 24 hours.
The benefits of intermittent fasting have been well-documented and include weight loss, improved physical health and a reduction in mental health conditions and mood disorders, such as depression, anxiety and panic disorder. However, finding the right plan to suit your lifestyle will depend on your specific circumstances. To gain the maximum benefits from intermittent fasting, it’s important to make other lifestyle changes, such as improving your general nutrition, increasing physical activity and learning relaxation techniques.