To choose the best style of fasting for you individually, give it some time and experiment with the options available to you, before deciding which one you want to try.
Intermittent fasting is a permanent lifestyle change so you can maintain your weight with the least possible effort. So be sensible when choosing your plan, don’t try and do too many fasts at once, and choose a type that you will enjoy. Yes I did say enjoy. Trust me, when you find the perfect fasting style and frequency for you, you’ll love it.
With so many variations so you’re bound to find something that works for you and you can always switch methods until you find one that you like.
Here are some of the most popular ways to fast:
Daily Fasts – These are usually between 16 to 18 hours long, every single day of the week. They’re a good choice if you don’t like the idea of fasting for a long period of time. Here’s an example of how it’s done. Start each fast after the evening meal at 6pm until the following day at 1pm for an 18 hour fast. This leaves an ‘eating window’ each day of 6 to 8 hours, where you can just eat as you normally would during that time. If you can’t handle 18 hours without food just yet then start with 16 hour fasts and finish the fast at 11am. Gradually build up to 18 hours if you can.
For some ladies, you’ll only need to fast on the weekdays and find you’ll get great results.
For others of us you might need to fast every day of the week, especially if you decide to fast for only 16 hours.
Just experiment and find what works best for you. You might also find that you need to start with 7 days per week and then cut back to 5 days a week (weekday fasts) only, to maintain the weight you want.
24 Hour Fasts – With this method you only need to fast twice a week, but the catch is that you need to fast for a 24 hour period with no calories at all during that time. Here’s an example, if you decide to fast on Monday and Thursday each week, start your first fast after the evening meal on Sunday at 7pm and only consume water or zero calorie beverages until 7pm the next evening (Monday). Then eat normally until Wednesday evening at 7pm and fast again until Thursday evening at 7pm. You can pick any two days of the week and any start time during the day as long as you fast for 24 hours. For example from 1pm after lunch on Monday through to 1pm on Tuesday.
I highly recommend 24 hour fasts because of the fat-burning potential. If you look at this intermittent fasting graph you can see how your body will use more fat for fuel the longer you fast.
Alternate Day Fasting – This method involves fasting for an entire day (from the evening meal the night before until breakfast the following day) on alternate days, so for example on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and so on.
This method is for the hard core so if it sounds too extreme then you can use a modified ADF method where instead of ‘true’ fasting (with no calories) you eat a certain percentage of your recommended daily calorie intake. Research shows that between 15% and 25% of your calorie needs is optimal. So around 500 calories (or 2000 kilojoules) for the average woman on fasting days.
If you decide on this method you can work out your daily calorie needs by using a caloric needs calculator
The 5:2 Method – This is just as effective as alternate day fasting when it comes to the health benefits and weight loss so why not make it easy on yourself! It’s similar to ADF where you can eat 500 calories on the fasting days, but you only need to fast for two days of the week (anywhere in the week) with 5 days of eating normally. Phew! That sounds much better.
So for example, you only eat your set calories (500 calories) on Monday and Thursday every week and then eat normally on the other days of the week.
I recommend having your 500 at the start of the day or at the end of the day (to get the maximum fat burning benefits) instead of having it as snacks throughout the day, but it’s up to you.
The One Meal a Day method is done every day of the week, but it can also be done just on the weekdays.
It’s pretty simple. You only eat ONE meal per day.
You have a 4-hour window to eat your one meal in to make sure that it’s roughly at the same time everyday. That way you will be consuming no calories at all for around 23 hours a day.
The meal has to be one average-sized dinner plate of food including any desserts and sauces. And there are a few ground rules you need to abide by. For more information on OMAD click here.
Start at the Right Pace for You
If you’ve crash dieted and put strict food restrictions on yourself in the past you’ll probably be terrified at the thought of fasting. If that’s the case then just ease in to fasting gradually instead of jumping straight in. Have a look at these fasting plans for examples on how to ease yourself in to it slowly.
And have a look at my book ‘Intermittent Fasting for Women‘ to help you decide on your fasting method, to show you what your ‘eating personality’ is and how that affects your results, and to make sure you avid some of the common mistakes and pitfalls so you get the best out of your fasts.
Do it Your Way
I recommend 24 hour fasts and daily fasts because you don’t need to count calories. But there’s no need to stick to any set rules when it comes to intermittent fasting. Not only do we have last minute social activities, travel and a busy lifestyle to take in to account but sticking to the same plan can get tedious and feel restrictive. So once you’ve been fasting for a while, don’t be shy about mixing things up a bit. Be creative!
- 1 x 24 hour fast and the rest of the days 16 hour fasts.
- Or 18 hour fasts every week day with one of those being 20 hour fast.
- Or alternate your weeks. One week of daily fasts and the next week 2 x 24 hour fasts.
You get the idea. Keep it interesting and keep your body guessing when you’ll next be giving it calories so it will stay at its fat-burning peak.