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Intermittent fasting is a new way to approach food that turns the rest of the dieting world upside down.
What do diets typically focus on?
What to eat.
What not to eat.
How much to eat.
Certain food groups.
But what about when you eat?
Intermittent fasting is a dieting pattern that focuses on the pattern in which you consume food.
It highlights an opportunity to fast for periods of your day. That’s right, not eating for whole portions of your day.
Call it a diet, call it a lifestyle. Intermittent fasting is changing the way you consume food for the betterment of your body and health.
Ready to do a deep dive? Jump right into the Ultimate Intermittent Fasting Guide.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
Jumping into fasting may require some trial and error.
Essentially you pick a fasting schedule that works best for you and your goals. There are lots of different options.
Intermittent Fasting Schedules
Your natural schedule, or work schedule, will most likely greatly impact what you choose.
The most common is the 16/8 intermittent fasting schedule. This involves fasting each day for 14-16 hours, and eating your meals over a period of 8-10 hours.
You can adjust those hours to cover whatever portion of the day you want.
Here are a few of the main 16/8 intermittent fasting schedule examples:
- Breakfast Lover: Start eating at 7 a.m., stop eating at 3 p.m.
- Breakfast Skipper: Start eating at 11 a.m., stop eating at 7 p.m.
- Dinner Lover: Start eating at 2 p.m., stop eating at 10 p.m.
- Night Owl: Start eating at 6 p.m., stop eating at 2 a.m.
There are also entirely different schedules.
You can fast for 2 full days a week (yikes), on and off for every other 24 hours, or take a more spontaneous approach.
We put together a complete list of intermittent fasting schedules just for you.
Intermittent Fasting Diet Guidelines
So what do you eat while “fasting”?
Obviously the goal isn’t to binge on super unhealthy foods during your eating timeframes.
The goal here is to access health benefits.
The intermittent fasting diet works best when paired with whole, high-fiber, and unprocessed foods. Think options like fruits, veggies, whole grains, potatoes, nuts, beans, seeds, eggs, nuts, dairy, fish and proteins.
Some intermittent fasters also drink certain liquids during their fasting portion.
Everyone is encouraged to drink lots of water, but you can also have black coffee and some teas as well.
If you’re doing whole or multiple day fasts, it’s also recommended to have a few super low calorie snacks to help tide you over. Especially if you’re working out.
Intermittent Fasting Benefits
Part of the reason intermittent fasting is so popular is because of the great health benefits.
Intermittent fasting has actually been around for centuries as a way to cleanse, detox and purify their bodies. It’s not surprising that some of the health benefits tie into those same principles.
A few examples of health benefits include:
- Weight loss
- Body fat loss
- Mental clarity
- Better concentration
- Increased energy
- Cellular cleansing activation
- Reduction of inflammation
- Type 2 diabetes reversal
- Better fat burning rate
- Increased growth hormone
- Lower blood cholesterol
- Lower blood insulin & sugar levels
So there you have it. A diet that’s not about WHAT you eat, but WHEN you eat it.
If it seems intimidating at first, remember, you go quite a long time sleeping at night without eating.
For many of us, the natural break between after dinner and maybe a late breakfast in the morning is actually almost the recommended fasting period anyway.
See what schedule may fit in with your existing lifestyle before you give up.