Want to Try a Fasting Diet? Here’s How to Choose the Right One
By: Amanda Suazo
January 8, 2020
- Fasting can help you manage your weight, increase mental clarity and reduce your risk for disease, simply by changing when you eat.
- You can incorporate fasting into any diet, but more structured options are also available.
- Check out the most popular fasting diets here, plus tips on how to choose the best plan for you.
- Fasting is one of the easiest dieting strategies out there because it doesn’t involve reading labels or cooking differently. Whether you’re just skipping a meal or limiting your eating to a few hours a day, small changes to the way you eat can have a big impact on the scale.
Fasting isn’t just a scientifically proven way to manage your weight. It also helps your body remove cellular waste and even improves your mood. From lowering your risk for disease to improving memory, you can enjoy loads of fasting benefits just by changing when you eat. You might skip breakfast a few times per week, or you might limit your eating window every day. It all depends on what works for you.
Fasting can fit into any diet — but if you need structure, you have options. Depending on your eating habits and health goals, you’ll find a style that fits your routine. Here are some of the most popular fasting diets.
Types of fasting diets
16/8 fasting diet
- This is an intermittent fasting diet where you limit eating to a single eight-hour window every day, typically between noon and 8 p.m.
- For best results, limit carbs to dinner, and stay hydrated throughout the day with plenty of water.
- After adapting to a 16-hour fast, try an 18-hour fast with a six-hour eating window to get even more out of intermittent fasting.
Takeaways: The 16/8 diet is one of the most popular fasting diets. It makes the perfect transition for anyone new to fasting. Basic 16/8 does not restrict your food choices during your eating window. However, a lower-carb diet with nutrient-dense foods can boost your results.
Bulletproof Intermittent Fasting
- Fast for 18 hours and limit your eating window to 2-8 p.m.
- Drink Bulletproof Coffee for breakfast to stay energized and curb cravings without breaking your fast.
- During eating periods, eat quality fats and limit carbs to burn fat and stay in ketosis.
Takeaways: Bulletproof Intermittent Fasting sidesteps the “hangry” feeling you might get from other fasting routines. Simply replace breakfast with a cup of Bulletproof Coffee in the morning. The quality fats keep you full until lunch, and you’ll still reap many of the benefits of fasting. Plus, this style of fasting helps you reach the fat-burning state of ketosis quickly.
5:2 fasting diet
- Eat as usual for five days per week. Two days a week, limit calories to 500-600 maximum.
- Enjoy three small meals or two slightly bigger meals during calorie-restricted days.
- To feel less hungry, space your fasting days between eating days.
Takeaways: Studies show that 5:2 fasting may lead to weight loss and improved insulin resistance (which can reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes) compared to cutting calories alone. For best results, eat nutritious foods like green veggies and fish on non-fasting days, and try not to overeat.
Eat Stop Eat fasting diet
- Fast for 24 hours twice per week, and eat normally the other five days.
- During normal eating days, eat nutritious foods. You don’t have to eliminate food groups or give up the foods you love — your fasting time provides all the calorie restriction you need.
- You can still eat something every day. Eat at 7 a.m. on Friday, begin your fast at 8 a.m. and eat again after 8:00 a.m. on Saturday.
Takeaways: Similar to 5:2, the Eat Stop Eat fasting diet allows you to follow normal eating patterns most of the week. The diet is based on the experience of author Brad Pilon. However, there is no specific data to support the diet’s effectiveness.
4:3 fasting diet (aka alternate day fasting)
- Fast every other day, and eat what you want during non-fasting days.
- On fasting days, limit yourself to 500 calories.
- Eat as much as you want on non-fasting days.
Takeaways: The 4:3 plan may help you manage your weight. But with so much fasting, it can be really hard to stick to the plan. Research suggests that this particular fasting diet leads to feelings of hunger and irritability, which may keep you from adopting it long-term. To stay strong, stay busy and distracted. On fasting days, have high-fat, lower-carb snacks ready when your energy gets low.
The Warrior Diet
- Fast or eat less than you normally eat over a 20-hour window, then eat one large meal during a four-hour evening window.
- Minimal eating window may include raw produce like berries or leafy greens (in unlimited amounts), zero-calorie fluids like green tea and even small amounts of protein like poached eggs.
- Eat wholesome, organic, high-nutrient foods during the evening meal.
Takeaways: The Warrior Diet is based on author Ori Hofmekler’s experiences in the Israeli Special Forces and his theories on ancient warriors’ eating habits — not hard science. Your results on the Warrior Diet will vary wildly, depending on how much you reduce your food intake and what you eat during the eating period.
One meal a day (OMAD)
- Fast for 23 hours and eat your daily calories during a one-hour window.
- To allow enough time to eat socially and still digest before bedtime, consider eating between 4-7 p.m. every day.
- When you do eat, have a balanced and nutritious meal … not a giant pizza.
Takeaways: OMAD provides all the benefits of fasting while simplifying your schedule and approach to food. Because OMAD naturally restricts calories down to a single meal, it can also maximize the weight loss benefits of a fasting diet. Since OMAD requires more effort, avoid trying it until you have more experience with fasting. Learn more about OMAD here.
Spontaneous meal skipping
- Skip meals when you don’t feel hungry.
- When you do eat, follow your normal diet.
Takeaways: This fasting diet uses an intuitive approach — perfect for anyone who wants total flexibility. To shed more pounds and keep your blood sugar steady, eat a lower-carb diet high in quality fats during non-fasting periods.
Rules for all fasting diets
- To avoid the blood sugar crashes that come during fasting periods, cut back on carbs and fill up on the right fats when you eat.
- Stay hydrated with regular water intake. Drink more water than usual.
- If you want to exercise, time your eating window close to your workout. Some people prefer to hit the gym during their fast. Do what works for you.
- When you break your fast, break it well. Fill your plate with vegetables, quality fats and pasture-raised meat to maximize your nutrient intake.
- To avoid feeling hangry, you can supplement any fasting diet with Bulletproof Coffee.
How to find the best fasting diet for you
Fasting may feel difficult at first (especially for beginners). With the right fasting diet, you can take control of your eating habits and reap major benefits.
Always consult with your healthcare practitioner before you try a fasting diet. Fasting is not ideal for people with a history of eating disorders or disordered eating.
Like any style of eating, you’ll want to experiment to find what works for you. Start with a larger eating window, like Bulletproof Intermittent Fasting. It’s easier to gradually work your way into longer fasting periods.
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