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The Basics of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting (IF) has gained popularity over the last few years, it is a set of meal patterns that involve varied time span of eating and fasting. It has proven to have benefits like better blood glucose, weight loss, increases in human growth hormone etc. In most of the Indian traditions various religions follow the certain days of fasting, these in the modern age have been postulated as intermittent fasting, so it is nothing new. Usually when we fast we are restricting calories leading to weight loss. This is the simple explanation behind how IF works apart from decreasing total calorie intake.

Types of Intermittent Fasting:

  1. Leangains Diet: A type of intermittent fasting usually called as 16:8 originally discovered by Martin Berkhan that focuses on structured eating, fasting and resistance training. It involves eating all of your calories during an 8 hour period and fasting for 16 hours. The diet involves 3 large meals and small frequent meals are not really advised. Your post-workout meal is recommended to be the largest meal of the day. During rest days, your first meal of the day should be your largest, accounting for around 40% of your daily calorie intake.

  2. Eat- Stop- eat : Postulated by Brad Pilon, this type of fasting where the person fasts for 24 hrs - 2 days a week. It is recommended to eat a healthy balanced meal during the non-fasting stages. Also a good suitable exercise is an essential for best results

  3. 5:2 fasting: Popularized by Michael Mosley, it is popularly called as the fast diet similar to eat and stop but with a bit of difference. 5 days a week, a normal diet is suggested and 2 days a week a calorie restriction of 500-600 calories is recommended, more than which foods to each when to eat plays a major role.

  4. Time Restricted Eating: You eat within a given time period, which can be any part of the day usually an 8 -9 hour window period

  5. Alternate day or 36 hour fasting: This type involves a longer fasting period of 36 hours, however the intake of liquids with no calories or very minimal calories is acceptable.

  6. Warrior Diet: This weight-loss plan doesn't require fasting completely. You eat very little for 20 hours a day, and then eat as much food as you’d like during a four-hour evening window, with no specific calorie targets or limits.Throughout the entire diet, processed foods are discouraged, including candy, chips, baked goods, sugary drinks, artificial sweeteners, fried food, and fast food.

  7. Spontaneous meal skipping: this is another simple type of IF where if you don’t feel hungry, skip the meal. Individuals doing a spontaneous meal skipping do not plan in advance, it is just listening to the body cues.

Who can do IF?

IF diets are usually a good help when it comes to weight loss, PCOS, type 2 diabetes. The results differ based on individuals adherence, the type of IF followed and individuals body. But there are a few categories of individuals for whom this must not be suggested like pregnant and lactating mothers, people with eating disorders or medical health conditions and children especially during a growth spurt.

Choosing the right plan

There are many different ways of following an intermittent fasting plan. There is no concrete way of knowing which plan suits whom. Usually it is just a trial and error method. Look at all the plans and the feeding and fasting window, whichever you feel can be suitable based on your lifestyle is likely to have a better adherence rate.

Additional considerations

It is always best to consider getting yourself checked by your healthcare provider before starting on any rigorous diets or exercise regimen. Also try working alongside with your exercise trainer and nutritionist for better results. The time taken to lose a few kilos or achieve the desired results also varies from person to person. If you feel any discomfort seek professional help and do not try to solve it by yourself.

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