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Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Intermittent Fasting: A Complete Guide

Intermittent fasting is trending worldwide due to its immense benefits related to health and weight loss. It is not actually a diet but more of an eating pattern. This eating pattern is easy to follow and does not involve special recipes and grocery lists. It is easy on the pocket as well. It can be followed easily even while traveling and when you don’t feel like cooking. Every diet is not suitable for every individual, intermittent fasting may suit some people while it may not affect others. The only way to find out if this diet will benefit you or not is to try it out. This guide will help the beginners to get the answers to all the questions related to intermittent fasting or IF.

Picture showing healthy food used in intermittent fasting

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that revolves between fast and feast. It doesn’t talk about what we should eat but rather focuses on when we should eat. This eating pattern negates the rule which says “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper” for better health and metabolism. In intermittent fasting, breakfast is mostly skipped (especially if you are following the 16/8 method of IF). It also rejects the common notion of weight loss of eating six small meals throughout the day. In intermittent fasting you take calories only in a specific window and opt for not eating in the other larger window. Some people are skeptical about this diet as they think that skipping breakfast is unhealthy. If you skip breakfast and eat healthy food in the eating window then following this diet is perfectly OK. There are several ways of doing intermittent fasting or commonly known as IF.

1. The 16/8 Method

The most common and widely followed method of Intermittent Fasting is the 16/8 method in which the eating window is 8 hours while the fasting window is 16 hours longer. For example, if you eat dinner at 8 pm then according to this method you will need to skip breakfast the other day and have your first meal around 1 pm - 2 pm. Then you eat for a window of 8 hours and repeat the process all over again.
Here you are skipping one entire meal, which cuts down your calories, thus reducing the overall weight. This feasting and fasting window can be adjusted according to your needs and can be done frequently.

Table showing the eating and fasting window of 16/8 method of intermittent fasting

2. The 5:2 Method

Intermittent fasting can be done by eating normally for 5 days a week and then restricting diet to 500-600 calories for the remaining 2 days of the week. The eating days should not involve binging on junk food and exceeding the normal calorie intake (which varies from person to person) otherwise it will lead to gaining weight instead of losing. The 5:2 method of IF can be followed on any two days of the week but there should be at least one non-fasting day in between them. The common planning involves fasting on Mondays and Thursdays and eating normally with limited calorie intake for the rest of the days.

Table showing the eating and fasting time of 5:2 method of of intermittent fasting

3.  The Eat-Stop-Eat Method

Another way of implementing intermittent fasting is eat-stop-eat method where 24 hours of fasting is carried out on anyone or two non-consecutive days of the week. The remaining 5-6 days should involve sensible eating choices within the required calorie intake range. 

Table showing the eating and fasting window of eat-stop-eat method of intermittent fasting

4. The Alternate-Day Fasting

As the name suggests this approach of intermittent fasting involves fasting on alternate days. Its modified version allows 500 calorie intake on fasting days. It is suggested to keep proper hydration through calorie-free drinks during the fasting period. The Alternate-Day Fasting is simple and easier to follow as compared to the other methods of intermittent fasting.

table showing the eating and fasting window of the Alternate-Day method of intermittent fasting

5. The Warrior Diet

The warrior diet involves an eating pattern that revolves around an extended period of abstaining from food while overeating in a small window. It follows the diet rules of ancient warriors who devoured little food during the day and feasted heavily at night. Those who follow this method are encouraged to eat a little number of dairy products, raw fruits, vegetables, and no-calorie fluids in the 20 hours fasting window while eating anything in the 4 hours of overeating window. However, junk and processed foods are discouraged. According to some health experts this method of intermittent fasting is extreme and inessential.

Table showing the eating and fasting window of the warrior diet of intermittent fasting

6. The Unplanned Meal Skipping

One more way of doing intermittent fasting is skipping any meal when you are not hungry or can’t cook while eating healthy otherwise. Eating small meals throughout the day for weight loss is a myth. Not eating food when the body doesn’t want it and eating healthy options otherwise is a better and natural way of losing weight.  

Intermittent Fasting Benefits:

Intermittent fasting has been practiced in one way or the other by people of different beliefs and religions. It is believed to be a secret of ancient people’s health. This dietary secret is being re-discovered and is gaining popularity among masses. If this weight loss technique is not followed properly then it would result in weight gain instead of weight loss. Some of its benefits are:

1. Weight loss and fat burning
2. Brain clarity
3. Reversal of type 2 diabetes
4. Rejuvenation of vital organs
5. Lowers the level of insulin and blood sugar
6. Better cholesterol levels.
7. Increase in a life span
8. Inflammation reduction

Side Effects of Intermittent Fasting:

Like so many other diets, this diet has some side effects too. The body needs some time to accept the changes you make in diet and eating patterns which can lead to some issues. Some known side effects are

1. Hunger pangs
2. Dizziness and headache
3. Muscular pain
4. Constipation
5. Anxiety
6. Hair loss
7. Stress
8. Dehydration

Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss:

A series of changes take place when the body is in the state of fasting. It starts with the repair process of cells and changes hormone levels which makes easy access to stored body fats. Intermittent fasting has a direct effect on insulin levels. Higher insulin levels are related to obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and increased cholesterol. In intermittent fasting insulin level decreases which ultimately lowers all the above-mentioned conditions, resulting in fat loss and weight reduction.

How Long Does it Take to Reduce Weight?

The time needed to reduce weight depends on the goal. Smaller the goal, the lesser the time would be required to achieve it. It also varies with food choices and physical activity. Exercise along with healthy food choices are encouraged to reach a goal much quicker.  The effects of intermittent fasting start appearing after the first 24 hours in the form of reduced bloating. In 2-3 days sleep and energy levels improve. After 1 week, sugar cravings reduce with more regular bowel movements. Weight loss varies from person to person but usually it starts after a week or 10 days if intermittent fasting protocols are followed properly. 

Who Should Avoid Intermittent Fasting?

1. Pregnant woman
2. Breastfeeding woman
3. People with chronic diseases and other health issues.
4. Elderly
5. Underweight people
6. People with fertility issues
7. People with eating disorders

Intermittent Fasting Diet Plan:

This diet is different than others as in intermittent fasting no special diet plan is required. The main focus is when to eat instead of what to eat? You can eat anything in intermittent fasting but sensible food choices and avoiding processed and junk food lead to weight loss and other important benefits. The calorie intake in the non-fasting period should also be monitored and taken in a normal range. Coffee, water, tea, and other no-calorie drinks can be taken in fasting hours but during non-fasting hours you should eat the same quantity of food which u would have eaten if you were not fasting.

Picture showing diet plan of intermittent fasting

Intermittent Fasting Beverages:

It is advised to keep proper hydration throughout the fasting window. Drinking an adequate amount of water and other no-calorie drinks are beneficial. People can get dehydrated easily with intermittent fasting, install water drinking apps to avoid it. Black coffee and tea don’t break your fast as long as it has less amount of cream and milk. You can drink anything with less than 50 calories.

picture showing detox water

Easy on Pocket:

Unlike other diets for which you have to spend a lot of bucks on making a grocery list, this diet is simple and doesn’t require any grocery list. All you need to do is fill your fridge will healthy options

Supplements/ Multivitamins:

Don’t forget to take supplements while doing intermittent fasting in order to avoid any deficiency. However, some supplements can’t be taken on an empty stomach and can be harmful instead of giving benefits. Please consult a doctor and set time for these supplements according to his recommendation.

Best Intermittent Fasting Apps for Android and iPhone:

If you are all set for intermittent fasting but lacks motivation then don’t worry, there are some amazing mobile apps that will give you the right support and will keep you on your toes. Tracking your progress has now become very easy with the help of these amazing intermittent fasting apps which are available on Google Play and the App Store for free. Download the app of your choice and start assessing your progress now

1. Fast Habit:

Whichever method of intermittent fasting you choose this amazing app will keep you consistent. By setting reminders, fasting length, and using some advanced features offered by this app you can track your progress and stay motivated.

2. LIFE Fasting Tracker:

A great and flexible app for beginners. It has a built-in library and informative articles which can help beginners in understanding what intermittent fasting is and how it works, thus enabling them to lose weight by having knowledge of what they are following, moreover, you can join the fasting circle of your friends for encouragement and support. This amazing in-app community is enough for motivation.

3. Zero-Fasting Tracker:

A simple and easy to use app which has an amazing feature of sending notification related to start and end the time of fast to the user on the phone. It keeps track of weight loss and also gives information related to ketones, glucose, and body fat.

4. DoFasting:

A good training app which not only keep the track of your fasting and non-fasting hours but also gives personalized work-out plans along with demo videos. It is simple and easy to use. It has built-in diet food recipes too. With so many features packed in one app, what else can u ask for?

5. Body Fast:

An awesome app for beginners with the BodyFast Coach feature that enables users to get individual plans based on progress and preconditions. It offers a number of fitness challenges and coach users lose weight 30% faster than the standard fasters

6. MyFast:

This amazing app lets you set your goals on a daily basis and informs you when to start and stop fast. It keeps track of weight loss and water intake and allows you to see your progress in the form of charts by comparing weight loss to fasting length. It shows minimal ads.


The information contained in this article is for general purposes only. Please consult experienced dieticians and nutritionists before following intermittent fasting and making any changes to your eating pattern.

1 comment:

  1. Intermittent fasting could be considered a natural eating pattern that humans are built to implement and it traces all the way back to our paleolithic hunter-gatherer ancestors. intermittent fasting 16 8


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