I’m guessing you want to lose weight easy and simple. However many weight loss programs have a lot of rules and complexities.
Intermittent fasting keeps things simple, and it has become a very popular eating pattern to lose weight. As the author of this blog ‘Simple Life Weight Loss’, I’m here to share my fasting experience as well as provide the useful information to get you started.
This article looks into some of the most popular intermittent fasting windows that have been producing outstanding weight loss results. In fact, I myself rotate among these various fasting windows and obtained great results.
Weight loss comes down to energy in versus energy out. To lose weight, you need to spend more energy (calories) than you intake. This can be done by eating less, moving more or a combination of both. Here’s how intermittent fasting comes into the picture.
Intermittent fasting is the art of arranging your 24 hours between eating and fasting. Let see how we can play around with the fasting window to acquire weight loss and other health benefits. Don’t forget, I’m going to keep things simple for you.
The Art of Eating Less – 5 Effective Ways of Intermittent Fasting (in short - IF)
Below I have detailed 5 of the most popular ways to do intermittent fasting. All of them can be effective, but which one fits best will depend on the individual.
1. The 16:8 Method: Fast for 16 hours each day (2 Meal Solution)
The 16:8 method simply implies a daily eating window of 8 hours and then fast for the rest 16 hours. In fact, you can make variations according to your own preference, like 18:6 or 20:4. As far as you keep a fasting window between 16 and 20 hours a day will be fine.
This is technically the easiest way of doing intermittent fasting. This method of fasting can actually be as simple as not eating anything after dinner, and skipping breakfast.
You can drink water, and any other non-caloric beverages during the fast, and this can help reduce hunger levels.
It is very important to eat mostly healthy foods during your eating window. This won't work if you eat lots of junk food or excessive amounts of calories.
I eat this way myself and find it to be easy, natural and 100% effortless. However this is not the only way of IF that I do. I actually combine all the 5 types of IF styles depending on my daily schedule. Continue reading, and you will see.
Anna’s comments: If you are a beginner, this is the easiest option to start with. In a nutshell, simply skip breakfast and that’s it.
If you want to explore this option further, I would like to introduce Mike O'Donnell, aka 2 Meal Mike, author of 2 Meal Solution and the website The IF Life. Mike is one of my most respected persons about intermittent fasting. He is very passionate, knowledgeable and resourceful about intermittent fasting. He used to sell his eBook 2 Meal Solution, but I just realized that he is now offering it for free. So please visit his website or simply click this link to download: 2 Meal Solution.
2. The 5:2 Method: Fast for 2 Days Per Week
In a (low calorie) nutshell: you fast for two days and feast for five. On the fast days you eat no more than 600 calories (500 for women) and on the feast days you can eat whatever you like. It's simple, flexible (any two days which are not consecutive are fine) and effective … and fun, because the feast days are carefree and there's always another one to look forward to at every hungry, fasting moment.
For example, you might eat normally on all days except Mondays and Thursdays, where you eat two small meals (250 calories per meal for women, and 300 for men).
Anna’s comments: The 5:2 Diet involves eating 500-600 calories for two days of the week, but eating normally the other 5 days. Try not to over eat on the eating days hoping to compensate on the shortage. Remember our objective is to reduce the overall calories intake.
If for any reason you are unable or not willing to give up breakfast, this 5:2 method is a better option over the 16:8.
3. The Eat-Stop-Eat Method: Do a 24-hour Fast, Once or Twice a Week
Eat-Stop-Eat involves a 24-hour fast, either once or twice per week.
For example, if you finish dinner on Monday at 7 pm, and don't eat until dinner the next day at 7 pm, then 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, black coffee and other non-caloric beverages are allowed during the fast, but no solid food.
The problem with this method is that a full 24-hour fast can be fairly difficult for some people.
However, you don't need to go all-in right away, starting with 14-16 hours and then moving upwards from there is fine.
I personally do this occasionally. When I'm forced to binge especially during business lunch/dinner, work travel, offsite and festivals, I will add a few sessions of 24-hour fasts and then resume my normal one meal day.
Anna’s comments: This method is introduced by fitness expert Brad Pilon, and has been quite popular for many years. Eat-Stop-Eat is an intermittent fasting program with one or two 24-hour fasts per week. Do it when it fits your schedule. If you want to explore this option further, take a look at Brad Pilon’s website.
4. OMAD Method: One Meal A Day
OMAD stands for One Meal A Day, and it is literally that you have one meal each day. Having to wait 24 hours each day to eat your daily single meal is somehow difficult. But I have been on this way of IF most of the time. However if I had to eat (such as business lunch or someone buys us afternoon treats), I will switch to the 16:8 style, i.e., eat around lunch hour (12-1pm), and then dinner at around 8pm.
Some people may think that it is important to get all the nourishment needed on a daily basis to be packed into one huge serving of food. NO, I personally never do this. One meal is one meal, one normal meal. Try not to over eat, instead, eat what you love to eat and at a comfortable portion. In order for your body to rest while you sleep, early dinner is better than late.
The great thing is that the next morning, you’ll be completely energized having digested and processed all the food you took in while resting.
5. Spontaneous Meal Skipping: Skip Meals When Convenient
I like this idea very much. I learnt it from Kris Gunnars at HealthLine.
I would say this is a simple combination of all kinds of IF. You don't actually need to follow a structured intermittent fasting plan to reap some of the benefits. Simply skip meals from time to time, when you don't feel hungry or are too busy to cook and eat.
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 travelling somewhere and can't find anything you want to eat, do a short fast.
Skipping 1 or 2 meals when you feel so inclined is basically a spontaneous intermittent fast.
Anna’s comments: A very “simple” and "natural" way to do intermittent fasting is to simply skip 1 or 2 meals when you don't feel hungry or don't have time to eat. Just make sure to eat healthy foods.
TAKE HOME MESSAGE
Intermittent fasting is not something new. If we look back at our ancestors thousands of years ago, they had to hunt for food, and there was no guarantee on the food availability. So it is safe to say that we can survive without food for a short period of time.
There are a lot of people getting great results with some of the above intermittent fasting methods. If you decide to give it a try, then there are a few things I’d like you to keep in mind:
- Eat healthy foods, avoid junk food.
- Adjust your eating window and get a good balance within 24 hours of the day. Make yourself feel comfortable, life is to be enjoyed! Hence DO NOT kick off too rapidly. Start off slowly, discover and adjust what does and what does not work for you. Remember you are going to develop a new lifestyle, that you should enjoy the everyday journey and that you should take control of when and how to make things change for you.
- Have a mindset of developing “healthy lifestyle habits”. You would need to make a few small changes to your daily routine – but in the end, it will be worth it.
- The idea is that you are able to lose weight in a way that is sustainable for the rest of your life. Not just something that you do for a few weeks or months and then fall back into your old habits. The answer is “intermittent fasting”.