As more and more scientific research pours in to support the health benefits of intermittent fasting people are now thinking more about when they eat rather than what they eat.
There’s a variety of intermittent fasting schedules, so you can select a plan that best fits your lifestyle and goal.
There’s a lot of flexibility when it comes to intermittent fasting.
You may need to experiment to see what works best for you at first.
Here’s 3 ways of doing intermittent fasting:
#1 Daily Block Schedules
All eating is limited within a block of no more than eight consecutive hours. The rest of the day is spent fasting. The most common block schedules include:
- 16:8 – 8 hours of eating, 16 hours of fasting
- 18:6 – 6 hours of eating, 18 hours of fasting
- 20:4 – 4 hours of eating, 20 hours of fasting
You can take this all the way down to one- or two-hour eating blocks. Most people will end up on an OMAD schedule when their eating window is less than three hours.
A daily block IF schedule may work well for you if:
- You never want to go a full day without eating.
- You follow a set schedule in daily life and want to coordinate your eating window to that schedule.
- You need to take medication with food, so all-day fasting is out.
- You want to ease into IF because you’re not used to going without food for more than a few hours.
- You don’t want to workout while in a fasted state, so you need to coordinate your eating blocks to your exercise schedule.
#2 The 5:2 IF Schedule
5 days of eating normally. 2 days of fasting. (The fasting days are not consecutive.)
5:2 fasting requires you to fast two days per week while eating normally or following a healthy diet the rest of the week.
Some people will consume one small meal up to 500 calories on the fasting day while others clean fast the full day.
This is the more flexible option because you can pick which days you fast each week, allowing the lifestyle to fit your personal life.
The only rule is that the fasting days are never consecutive.
If you fast for two days straight or longer, you’re moving into extended fasting rather than IF.
There are health benefits that come with extended fasting, so you might want to research that lifestyle if you enjoy long periods of fasting.
You may find ADF or 5:2 satisfying if:
- You have a busy lifestyle and like the idea of working straight through the day without stopping for meals.
- You don’t want to fast every day.
- You find that longer fasts enhance your energy levels and allow you to focus better.
- Your weight loss results are accelerated when you fast for longer periods.
- You want to take advantage of the health benefits of longer fasts.
- You follow a well-balanced diet in addition to fasting, so you aren’t likely to binge on unhealthy foods on your eating days.
OMAD stands for One Meal a Day.
Some people define this as sitting down to one meal each day and then going right back to fasting when they put their fork down. Others may spread the meal out over a few hours, consuming a light snack, then a full meal and then dessert with a bit of time in between.
When following OMAD daily, it’s important to choose nutrient-dense foods and to eat enough to support your body for the next 24 hours. Intermittent fasting is never about starvation, so you need to really feed your body a lot of quality food during your one daily meal.
You can eat your daily meal at any time, and that includes changing the time daily if needed. This is the flexibility that allows the OMAD lifestyle to work for many people.
OMAD may work for you if:
- You want to boost your productivity by working straight through the day without stopping for meals.
- Your ability to focus and think clearly is enhanced when in a fasted state.
- You often get tired after eating, so fasting all day and consuming one meal in the evening improves your energy levels and sleep quality.
- Eating small meals throughout the day didn’t work for you, so you want to try eating one larger meal instead.
- You enjoy eating large meals without guilt.
- You have a food addiction and want to break the pattern of planning your life around food.
Most people go through a period of exploration before they decide which intermittent fasting schedules are right for them.
Most will also change preferences over time. If you’re not accustomed to fasting, start with the 16:8 schedule and start shortening your window if you aren’t getting the results you want.