6 Popular Ways to Do Intermittent Fasting
It's claimed to cause weight loss, improve metabolic health, and perhaps even extend lifespan.
Not surprisingly given the popularity, several different types or methods of intermittent fasting have been created.
Every method can be effective, but figuring out which one works best depends on the individual.
Here are 6 popular ways to do intermittent fasting.
1. The 16/8 Method: Fast for 16 Hours Each Day
The 16/8 Method involves fasting every day for 14 to16 hours and restricting your daily "eating window" to 8-10 hours.
Within the eating window, you can fit in 2, 3, or more meals.
This method is also known as the Leangains protocol and was popularized by fitness expert Martin Berkhan.
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 p.m. and don't eat until noon the next day, you're technically fasting for 16 hours.
It's 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, this method may be hard to get used to at first. However, many breakfast skippers actually instinctively eat this way.
It's very important to primarily eat healthy foods during your eating window. This method won't work if you eat lots of junk food or an excessive number of calories.
The 16/8 method involves daily fasts of 16 hours for men and 14-15 hours for women. Each day you'll restrict your eating to an 8- to 10-hour "eating window" where you can fit in 2, 3, or more meals.
2. The 5:2 Diet: Fast for 2 Days Per Week
This diet is also called The Fast Diet and was popularized by British journalist Michael Mosley.
On the fasting days, it's recommended that women eat 500 calories and men eat 600 calories.
For example, you might eat normally every day of the week except Mondays and Thursdays. For those two days, you eat two small meals (250 calories per meal for women and 300 calories 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.
The 5:2 diet, or the Fast diet, involves eating 500-600 calories for two days out of the week and eating normally the other 5 days.
3. Eat-Stop-Eat: Do a 24-Hour Fast, Once or Twice a Week
Eat-Stop-Eat involves a 24-hour fast, either once or twice per week.
This method was popularized by fitness expert Brad Pilon and has been quite popular for a few years.
By fasting from dinner one day to dinner the next day, this amounts to a full 24-hour fast.
For example, if you finish dinner at 7 p.m. Monday and don't eat until dinner at 7 p.m. the next day, 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 noncaloric beverages are allowed during the fast, but no solid foods are permitted.
If you're doing this to lose weight, it's 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 potential downside of this method is that a full 24-hour fast may 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 upward from there is fine.
I've personally done this a few times. I found the first part of the fast very easy, but in the last few hours, I became ravenously hungry.
I needed to apply some serious self-discipline to finish the full 24 hours, and I often found myself giving up and eating dinner a bit earlier.
Eat-Stop-Eat is an intermittent fasting program with one or two 24-hour fasts per week.
4. Alternate-Day Fasting: Fast Every Other Day
Alternate-day fasting means fasting every other day.
There are several different versions of this method. 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 method.
A full fast every other day can seem rather extreme, so it's not recommended 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.
Alternate-day fasting means fasting every other day, either by not eating anything or only eating a few hundred calories.
5. The Warrior Diet: Fast During the Day, Eat a Huge Meal at Night
The Warrior Diet was popularized by fitness expert Ori Hofmekler.
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.
The Warrior Diet is about eating only small amounts of vegetables and fruits during the day and eating one huge meal at night.
6. Spontaneous Meal Skipping: Skip Meals When Convenient
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, such as when you don't feel hungry or are too busy to cook and eat.
It's a myth that people need to eat every few hours or they'll 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 traveling somewhere and can't find anything you want to eat, do a short fast.
Skipping one or two meals when you feel inclined to do so is basically a spontaneous intermittent fast.
Just make sure to eat healthy foods during the other meals.
Another more "natural" way to do intermittent fasting is to simply skip one or two meals when you don't feel hungry or don't have time to eat.
The Bottom Line
There are a lot of people getting great results with some of these methods.
Intermittent fasting is not for everyone. It's not something that anyone needs to do. It's just another tool in the toolbox that can be useful for some people.
Some also believe that it may not be as beneficial for women as men. It may also not be a recommended choice for people who have or are prone to eating disorders.
If you decide to try intermittent fasting, keep in mind that you need to eat healthy as well.
It's not possible to binge on junk foods during the eating periods and expect to lose weight and improve health.
Calories still count, and food quality is still absolutely crucial.
For more details on intermittent fasting, read: Intermittent Fasting 101 — The Ultimate Beginner's Guide.
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By Michael Svoboda, Ph.D.
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By Katy Neusteter
The Biden-Harris transition team identified COVID-19, economic recovery, racial equity and climate change as its top priorities. Rivers are the through-line linking all of them. The fact is, healthy rivers can no longer be separated into the "nice-to-have" column of environmental progress. Rivers and streams provide more than 60 percent of our drinking water — and a clear path toward public health, a strong economy, a more just society and greater resilience to the impacts of the climate crisis.
Public Health<img lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTUyNDY3MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2MDkxMTkwNn0.pyP14Bg1WvcUvF_xUGgYVu8PS7Lu49Huzc3PXGvATi4/img.jpg?width=980" id="8e577" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1efb3445f5c445e47d5937a72343c012" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="3000" data-height="2302" />
Wild and Scenic Merced River, California. Bob Wick / BLM<p>Let's begin with COVID-19. More than <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-us-cases.html?name=styln-coronavirus&region=TOP_BANNER&block=storyline_menu_recirc&action=click&pgtype=LegacyCollection&impression_id=2f508610-2a87-11eb-8622-4f6c038cbd1d&variant=1_Show" target="_blank">16 million Americans</a> have contracted the coronavirus and, tragically,<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-us-cases.html?name=styln-coronavirus&region=TOP_BANNER&block=storyline_menu_recirc&action=click&pgtype=LegacyCollection&impression_id=2f508610-2a87-11eb-8622-4f6c038cbd1d&variant=1_Show" target="_blank"> more than</a> <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-us-cases.html?name=styln-coronavirus&region=TOP_BANNER&block=storyline_menu_recirc&action=click&pgtype=LegacyCollection&impression_id=2f508610-2a87-11eb-8622-4f6c038cbd1d&variant=1_Show" target="_blank">300,000 have died</a> due to the pandemic. While health officials encourage hand-washing to contain the pandemic, at least <a href="https://closethewatergap.org/" target="_blank">2 million Americans</a> are currently living without running water, indoor plumbing or wastewater treatment. Meanwhile, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jun/23/millions-of-americans-cant-afford-water-bills-rise" target="_blank">aging water infrastructure is growing increasingly costly for utilities to maintain</a>. That cost is passed along to consumers. The upshot? <a href="https://research.msu.edu/affordable-water-in-us-reaching-a-crisis/" target="_blank">More than 13 million</a> U.S. households regularly face unaffordable water bills — and, thus, the threat of water shutoffs. Without basic access to clean water, families and entire communities are at a higher risk of <a href="https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/green/news/2020/08/05/488705/bridging-water-access-gap-covid-19-relief/" target="_blank">contracting</a> and spreading COVID-19.</p><p>We have a moral duty to ensure that everyone has access to clean water to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Last spring, <a href="https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/03/coronavirus-stimulus-bill-explained-bailouts-unemployment-benefits.html" target="_blank">Congress appropriated more than $4 trillion</a> to jumpstart the economy and bring millions of unemployed Americans back to work. Additional federal assistance — desperately needed — will present a historic opportunity to improve our crumbling infrastructure, which has been <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jun/23/millions-of-americans-cant-afford-water-bills-rise" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">grossly underfunded for decades</a>.</p><p>A report by my organization, American Rivers, suggests that <a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/american-rivers-website/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/09223525/ECONOMIC-ENGINES-Report-2020.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Congress must invest at least $50 billion</a> "to address the urgent water infrastructure needs associated with COVID-19," including the rising cost of water. This initial boost would allow for the replacement and maintenance of sewers, stormwater infrastructure and water supply facilities.</p>
Economic Recovery<p>Investing in water infrastructure and healthy rivers also creates jobs. Consider, for example, that <a href="https://tinyurl.com/y9p6sgnk" target="_blank">every $1 million spent on water infrastructure in the United States generates more than 15 jobs</a> throughout the economy, according to a report by the Value of Water Campaign. Similarly, <a href="https://tinyurl.com/yyvd2ksp" target="_blank">every "$1 million invested in forest and watershed restoration contracting will generate between 15.7 and 23.8 jobs,</a> depending on the work type," states a working paper released by the Ecosystem Workforce Program, University of Oregon. Healthy rivers also spur tourism and recreation, which many communities rely on for their livelihoods. According to the findings by the Outdoor Industry Association, which have been shared in our report, "Americans participating in watersports and fishing spend over <a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/american-rivers-website/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/30222425/Exec-summary-ECONOMIC-ENGINES-Report-June-30-2020.pdf" target="_blank">$174 billion</a> on gear and trip related expenses. And, the outdoor watersports and fishing economy supports over <a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/american-rivers-website/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/30222425/Exec-summary-ECONOMIC-ENGINES-Report-June-30-2020.pdf" target="_blank">1.5 million jobs nationwide</a>."</p><p>After the 2008 financial crisis, Congress invested in infrastructure to put Americans back to work. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act <a href="https://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/economy-a-budget/25941-clean-water-green-infrastructure-get-major-boost" target="_blank">of 2009 (ARRA) allocated $6 billion</a> for clean water and drinking water infrastructure to decrease unemployment and boost the economy. More specifically, <a href="https://www.conservationnw.org/news-updates/us-reps-push-for-millions-of-restoration-and-resilience-jobs/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">an analysis of ARRA</a> "showed conservation investments generated 15 to 33 jobs per million dollars," and more than doubled the rate of return, according to a letter written in May 2020 by 79 members of Congress, seeking greater funding for restoration and resilience jobs.</p><p>Today, when considering how to create work for the <a href="https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/empsit.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">10.7 million</a> people who are currently unemployed, Congress should review previous stimulus investments and build on their successes by embracing major investments in water infrastructure and watershed restoration.</p>
Racial Justice<p>American Rivers also recommends that Congress dedicate <a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/american-rivers-website/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/09223525/ECONOMIC-ENGINES-Report-2020.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">$500 billion for rivers and clean water over the next 10 years</a> — not just for the benefit of our environment and economy, but also to begin to address the United States' history of deeply entrenched racial injustice.</p><p>The <a href="https://www.epa.gov/npdes/sanitary-sewer-overflows-ssos" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">23,000-75,000 sewer overflows</a> that occur each year release up to <a href="https://www.americanrivers.org/2020/05/fighting-for-rivers-means-fighting-for-justice/#:~:text=There%20are%20also%2023%2C000%20to%2075%2C000%20sanitary%20sewer,to%20do%20with%20the%20mission%20of%20American%20Rivers." target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">10 billion gallons of toxic sewage</a> <em>every day</em> into rivers and streams. This disproportionately impacts communities of color, because, for generations, Black, Indigenous, Latinx and other people of color have been <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/flooding-disproportionately-harms-black-neighborhoods/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">relegated</a> to live in flood-prone areas and in neighborhoods that have been intentionally burdened with a lack of development that degrades people's health and quality of life. In some communities of color, incessant flooding due to stormwater surges or <a href="https://www.ajc.com/opinion/opinion-partnering-to-better-manage-our-water/7WQ6SEAQP5E4LGQCEYY5DO334Y/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">combined sewer overflows</a> has gone unmitigated for decades.</p><p>We have historically treated people as separate from rivers and water. We can't do that anymore. Every voice — particularly those of people most directly impacted — must have a loudspeaker and be included in decision-making at the highest levels.</p><p>Accordingly, the new administration must diligently invest in projects at the community level that will improve lives in our country's most marginalized communities. We also must go further to ensure that local leaders have a seat at the decision-making table. To this end, the Biden-Harris administration should restore <a href="https://www.epa.gov/cwa-401#:~:text=Section%20401%20Certification%20The%20Clean%20Water%20Act%20%28CWA%29,the%20United%20States.%20Learn%20more%20about%20401%20certification." target="_blank">Section 401 of the Clean Water Act</a>, which was undermined by the <a href="https://earthjustice.org/news/press/2020/tribes-and-environmental-groups-sue-trump-administration-to-preserve-clean-water-protections#:~:text=Under%20Section%20401%20of%20the%20Clean%20Water%20Act%2C,seeks%20to%20undermine%20that%20authority%20in%20several%20ways%3A" target="_blank">Trump administration's 2020 regulatory changes</a>. This provision gives states and tribes the authority to decide whether major development projects, such as hydropower and oil and gas projects, move forward.</p>
Climate Resilience<p>Of course, the menacing shadow looming over it all? Climate change. <a href="https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/IFRC_wdr2020/IFRC_WDR_ExecutiveSummary_EN_Web.pdf" target="_blank">More than 100 climate-related catastrophes</a> have pummeled the Earth since the pandemic was declared last spring, including the blitzkrieg of megafires, superstorms and heat waves witnessed during the summer of 2020, directly impacting the lives of more than <a href="https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/IFRC_wdr2020/IFRC_WDR_ExecutiveSummary_EN_Web.pdf" target="_blank">50 million people globally</a>.</p><p>Water and climate scientist Brad Udall often says, "<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQhpj5G0dME" target="_blank">Climate change is water change</a>." In other words, the most obvious and dire impacts of climate change are evidenced in profound changes to our rivers and water resources. You've likely seen it where you live: Floods are more damaging and frequent. Droughts are deeper and longer. Uncertainty is destabilizing industry and lives.</p><p>By galvanizing action for healthy rivers and managing our water resources more effectively, we can insure future generations against the consequences of climate change. First, we must safeguard rivers that are still healthy and free-flowing. Second, we must protect land and property against the ravages of flooding. And finally, we must promote policies and practical solutions that take the science of climate disruption into account when planning for increased flooding, water shortage and habitat disruption.</p><p>Imagine all that rivers do for us. Most of our towns and cities have a river running through them or flowing nearby. Rivers provide clean drinking water, irrigate crops that provide our food, power our homes and businesses, provide wildlife habitat, and are the lifeblood of the places where we enjoy and explore nature, and where we play and nourish our spirits. Healthy watersheds help <a href="https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/03/1059952" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">mitigate</a> climate change, absorbing and reducing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. Healthy rivers and floodplains help communities adapt and build resilience in the face of climate change by improving flood protection and providing water supply and quality benefits. Rivers are the cornerstones of healthy, strong communities.</p><p>The more than <a href="https://archive.epa.gov/water/archive/web/html/index-17.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">3 million miles</a> of rivers and streams running across our country are a source of great strength and opportunity. When we invest in healthy rivers and clean water, we can improve our lives. When we invest in rivers, we create jobs and strengthen our economy. When we invest in rivers, we invest in our shared future.</p>
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