The benefits of intermittent fasting (IF) have been inspiring people to try it for themselves. With benefits from weight-loss success and improved sleep and mental focus to better digestion and decreased bloating, how can you not want to give it a try?!
IF is an eating pattern characterized by a period of time when you don’t eat (called your fasting window) and a period of time when you do eat (your eating or feasting window). There are many different methods where you fast for different periods such as 16:8 (fast 16 hours a day, feast eight hours) and 5:2 (eat normally five days a week, eat 500 calories on two non-consecutive days), and this one that’s called alternate-day fasting.
Alternate-Day Fasting (ADF) involves fasting one day, eating the next, and repeating. You are allowed to eat on fasting days, the recommended amount being 25 percent of your total calories. For example, if you’ve calculated that 1,800 calories a day is the amount you need to eat in order to lose weight, on a fasting day, you’d eat no more than 450 calories. On non-fasting days, you’d eat 1,800 calories.
Being allowed to eat a small amount on fasting days can help people stick with the plan. Fasting 24 hours gets easier as your body adjusts, and you’ll find you have so much free time not buying, preparing, and cleaning up after meals. You’ll experience better digestion and decreased bloating on your fasting days, and taking a break from eating can also help decrease sugar cravings.
If you’re not a fan of fasting every day as with the 16:8 plan, you might love ADF since you’re eating normally half of the week. Keeping busy with work and family responsibilities will take your mind off fasting, and it may feel really easy to not eat all day, making this a good option for intermittent fasting beginners.
Since you’re fasting seven days over a two-week period, it’s very effective at helping people decrease their body fat. People who have experience with 16:8 or even the Warrior Diet may find success trying ADF, since fasting for longer periods of time and mixing up their fasting regimen can help break through a weight-loss plateau.
You may find it too strict for your schedule to fast every other day. Not eating can make you feel hangry and low-energy, making it harder to stick to your regular exercise plan. Socially, it can also be a little awkward to not eat when others are eating.
Eating nothing or very little on those fasting days can increase the likelihood of going overboard on calories on your regular eating days, which could actually cause weight gain. Also, eating 450 calories a day can actually make you feel more hungry, which can make your fasting days much harder.
You may also experience slower weight loss from eating on fasting days, so you may want to follow Dr. Jason Fung’s advice. Author of the bestseller The Complete Guide to Fasting, he tells patients they should focus on fasting on fasting days in order to keep their insulin levels low.
If you’re interested in intermittent fasting, consult with your doctor first, do your research, and figure out a plan that will work with your schedule. Alternate-day fasting might be a good plan if it fits your lifestyle, if you have a lot of weight to lose and want to see quicker results, or if you’ve tried 16:8 or 5:2 and have hit a weight-loss plateau.