How do you choose the right fasting plan to suit your lifestyle?
To choose the best style of fasting for you, give it some time and experiment with the various options before deciding which one you’ll be able to keep up in the long term.
Intermittent fasting is meant to be a permanent lifestyle so you can maintain your weight with the least possible effort. So be sensible when choosing your plan (don’t try and do too much at once) and choose a type that you will enjoy.
There are so many variations of fasting you’re bound to find something that works for you.
Here are some options:
These fasts are usually for 16 to 18 hours, every day of the week and might be a better choice if you don’t like the idea of a 24 hour fast. For example, start each fast after the evening meal at say 6pm until the following day at 1pm for an 18 hour fast (or 11am if you for a shorter 16 hour fast). This leaves an ‘eating window’ each day of 6 to 8 hours. For some you will only need to fast on the weekdays and find you’ll get great results. For others you might need to fast every day, especially if you’re fasting for only 16 hours. Just experiment and find what works best for you. You might also find that you need to start with daily fasts and then cut back to weekday fasts only, to maintain your weight.
This usually involves one or two 24 hour true fasts (no calories at all) per week, anywhere in the day. For example, start each fast at 1pm after lunch through to 1pm the following day, or after the evening meal at say 7pm until 7pm the next evening. These are usually done 2-4 days apart.
I highly recommend this one because of its 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.
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.
However a lot of people use a modified ADF technique where instead of ‘true’ fasting they eat a certain percentage of their recommended daily calorie intake. Research has shown that between 15% and 25% of your calorie needs is optimal. This equates to around 500 to 600 calories (or 2000 to 2500 kilojoules) for the average person on the fasting days.
I recommend the modified version rather than true fasting every second day because it’s far easier for a beginner.
If you decide on this method you can work out your daily calorie needs by using a caloric needs calculator and then start with eating say 25% of this amount on fasting days and then drop it down to 15% after 2 weeks or so.
This method can be used instead of alternate day fasting. It’s similar to ADF where you can eat 500 to 600 calories on the fasting days, however you only fast for two days of the week (anywhere in the week) with 5 days of eating normally. So for example, you only eat your set calories on Monday and Thursday every week and then eat normally for the rest of the week until Monday again.
I recommend consuming all your calories at the start of the day and not by eating small meals throughout the whole day, but everyone is different, so just do what works for you.
Start at the Right Pace for You
If you’ve crash dieted, and put strict food restrictions on yourself in the past you might find you’ve developed some anxiety towards food (or being without it) and the thought of ‘fasting’ sounds horrifying. If that’s the case then try easing in to fasting gradually. Have a look at the fasting plans for examples on how to ease in to it.
For a full overview of each method and fasting plans to choose from, check out my book on Amazon read ‘Intermittent Fasting for Women‘ to help you to start off at the right pace for you.
Create Your Own Version
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. So once you’ve been fasting for a while, don’e be shy about mixing things up a bit.
For example 1 x 24 hour fast and the rest of the days 16 hour fasts. Or 18 hour fasts on weekdays with one 20 hour fast. Or 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.