Spoiler: Real weight loss is not easy. If you’re in the midst of trying to lean out and get healthy, you’ll know this to be true. There’s no magic pill you can take (no matter how many clickbait ads you see!) that will make you lose weight overnight. Despite this, there’s one dieting trend that could have some weight to it – intermittent fasting.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Before we go any further, let’s talk about what intermittent fasting actually is. The diet — which is actually more of a lifestyle than a diet — is basically what it says on the tin: a plan in which you fast intermittently. Rather than prescribing what foods you should and should not eat, fasting diets focus on restricting the times when you’re allowed to eat. However, this can take many different forms.
“There are some very interesting claims which are backed by clinical studies and merit attention. But we also need to consider what actually qualifies as fasting,” explains Gian Bohan, co-founder of plant-based wellness enterprise Shed and T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies graduate.
“Some experts claim you need to fast for at least five days to see its true effects, whereas others may talk about just doing short periods of fasting. It goes without saying that you should always consult your doctor or an expert before changing your diet dramatically.”
The Most Popular Fasting Diets Right Now
So, intermittent fasting is by no means a one-size-fits-all eating philosophy. That means that the baseline theory has been adapted to a range of ways to create different eating regimes. If you’re considering trying one for yourself, it pays to understand what each plan entails. Here’s what you need to know about some of the most popular fasting plans right now.
The 5:2 Diet
Perhaps the most popular of all the fasting eating plans, the 5:2 diet is often hailed as the “Holy Grail” of modern-day weight loss. For five days a week, you eat your regular diet and consume as many calories as you usually would. (For women, the recommended amount is around 2000 calories per day.)
When it comes to your fasting days – the other two days of the week – you only consume 25% of your normal calorie allowance. That means that you should be eating around 500 calories throughout the 24-hour period. When it comes to what food to eat, there are little restrictions; it’s more about cutting back than considering the type of meals you have.
Fasting Mimicking Diet
As the name suggests, this diet doesn’t actually involve fasting — at least, not in the literal sense. The weight loss plan was created by Valter Longo, Director of both the Longevity Institute at the University of Southern California. Revealing research suggests that following this specific regime could offer health benefits, such as decreasing your risk of diabetes and heart disease.
The “fasting” element of this diet takes place over a five-day period. During that time you eat only ProLon branded energy bars, chips, and soups totaling between 700 and 1,100 calories per day. The rest of the time, you “refuel” by eating a healthy and balanced diet.
The 16/8 Method
Rather than fasting for a whole day, the 16/8 method means restricting your eating to an eight-hour period. For example, you might have your first meal at 10:00 a.m. and then your last at around 5:00 p.m. After 6:00 p.m., though, you will fast until the next morning and start over again. It essentially means that you don’t eat anything for 16 hours of each day. Of course, you can adjust when you start and finish your eating period depending on your schedule.
Alternate Day Fasting
Sticking to a day-in, day-out, calorie-controlled diet can be tough at the best of times. That could be why alternate day fasting (or the Eat-Stop-Eat method) has become so popular. The diet involves fasting for 24 hours once or twice a week. For instance, you may decide that you’re not going to eat anything on Wednesday but keep to a regular meal plan for the rest of the week.
When compared to an average diet plan, researchers found that this fat loss plan delivered similar results. With that in mind, opting for this fasting regime when you find traditional methods of dieting tricky could be a smart way to shed some pounds.
Now that you know the basics, are you itching to get started? Before you embark on a fasting plan of any description, you need to make sure that it’s the right way to go for you. It’s important to realize that everybody is different and what works for someone else may not work for you. That’s why you should also do your own research and figure out which plan – if any at all – will work for your specific health needs and lifestyle.