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.
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).
As critics correctly point out, there are no studies testing the 5:2 diet itself, but there are plenty of studies on the benefits of intermittent fasting.
Eat-Stop-Eat involves a 24-hour fast, either once or twice per week.
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.
However, you don’t need to go all-in right away, starting with 14-16 hours and then moving upwards from there is fine.
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.
It involves eating small amounts of raw fruits and vegetables during the day, then eating one huge meal at night.
Basically, you “fast” all day and “feast” at night within a 4 hour eating window.
The Warrior Diet was one of the first popular “diets” to include a form of intermittent fasting.
This diet also emphasizes food choices that are quite similar to a paleo diet – whole, unprocessed foods that resemble what they looked like in nature.
You don’t actually need to follow a structured intermittent fasting plan to reap some of the benefits.
Another option is to simply skip meals from time to time, when you don’t feel hungry or are too busy to cook and eat.
It is a myth that people need to eat every few hours or they will hit “starvation mode” or lose muscle.
The human body is well equipped to handle long periods of famine, let alone missing one or two meals from time to time.
So if you’re really not hungry one day, skip breakfast and just eat a healthy lunch and dinner. Or if you’re travelling somewhere and can’t find anything you want to eat, do a short fast.
Skipping 1 or 2 meals when you feel so inclined is basically a spontaneous intermittent fast.
Just make sure to eat healthy foods at the other meals.
If you’ve ever looked into intermittent fasting, a diet that requires followers to fast for 12 to 20 hours daily, you might’ve come across some dire warnings about the diet being really, truly, dangerously bad for women.
Women’s bodies are more sensitive to the signals of starvation, so going too long without eating could throw their hormones out of whack, some experts say. As a result, intermittent fasting can make you so ravenous that you end up devouring everything in sight. Or worse, it can cause your body to break down lean muscle for fuel.
A quick Google search of “intermittent fasting for women” will tell you that the best way to avoid this supposed fate is with crescendo fasting—a special type of fasting that works with our delicate lady hormones instead of against them.
Instead of fasting 12 to 20 hours daily, crescendo fasters fast for 12 to 16 hours at a time on two to three non-consecutive days per week.
- Fast on 2–3 nonconsecutive days per week (e.g. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday)
- On fasting days, do yoga or light cardio.
- Ideally, fast for 12–16 hours.
- Eat normally on your strength training/intense exercise days.
- Drink plenty of water. (Tea and coffee are okay, too, as long as there is no added milk or sweetener)
- After two weeks, feel free to add one more day of fasting.
If you have failed at intermittent fasting before, try this crescendo style for a better, more sustainable experience — especially if you are a woman.