When it comes to diets, there is so much conflicting information out there that it’s no wonder most people are so confused about what to eat to be healthy and what to eat to lose weight. It can be so overwhelming!

Intermittent fasting is all about when you eat. This is a meal plan that alternates periods of fasting and eating on a regular schedule. Intermittent fasting is a great tool for weight management, and studies show it can help fight inflammation and be used to prevent or possibly reverse some forms of disease.

Is Intermittent Fasting Appropriate?

Intermittent Fasting or often called Intermittent Fasting (IF) for short is a very popular trend in health and fitness these days. People use this technique to lose weight, improve their health and simplify their lives.

Obesity is a common and costly disease in today’s world. According to CDC research, the prevalence of obesity in the United States increased from 30.5% to 41.9% between 1999 and 2000. During the same period, the prevalence of extreme obesity rose from 4.7% to 9.2%.

The great increase in obesity has caused so many people to look for more effective and sustainable ways to lose weight.

Although fasting has been a practice throughout human evolution, it has really gained popularity recently. The term “breakfast” gets its name from the break from fasting that is done each day.

Fasting has been used therapeutically for centuries, according to Encyclopedia Britannica:

“The Greek physician Hippocrates recommended abstinence from food or drink for patients showing certain symptoms of illness.”

Fasting is also often done for religious or spiritual reasons, including in Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism.

When you fast, several things happen in your body such as;

  • Your body changes hormone levels to make stored body fat more available.
  • Your cells also initiate an important repair process known as autophagy, which begins after 16-18 hours, which means “self-eating” and is the body’s way of clearing out damaged, unnecessary cells to create newer, healthier cells.
  • Your growth hormone levels increase significantly after 13 hours of fasting, which helps you lose fat and gain muscle.
  • It increases insulin sensitivity and insulin levels drop dramatically. Lower insulin levels make it easier to burn stored body fat for fuel.
  • There are also changes in the function of genes associated with longevity and protection against disease.

When you don’t consume food or calories, the body looks for other ways to generate energy, such as drawing from glucose, ie. sugar shops. Once glucose is used up significantly, the body’s metabolism changes and the body begins to burn fatty acids from stored fat for energy, resulting in a decrease in fat mass.

Studies show that implementing fasting patterns can lead to increased lifespan, improved protections against oxidative and metabolic stress, and reduced cardiovascular risk in both obese and non-obese individuals, according to an article in Pubmed.

Is fasting effective for weight loss?

Weight loss is one of the main reasons people turn to intermittent fasting. Eating fewer meals while fasting can lead to reduced calorie intake and changes in hormone levels that can lead to weight loss.

Intermittent fasting de-emphasizes what you eat and focuses more on when. For some dieters, it’s a relief to be able to control the weather instead of sticking to traditional low-fat or low-carb diet regimens.

Intermittent fasting methods

5:2 Method

This is where you eat a normal eating pattern for 5 days of the week and eat a very low calorie pattern for 2 days of the week which are called fasting days. Women should aim for around 500 calories on fasting days, while men should aim for around 600.

It’s a basic concept that’s easy to follow without strictly counting calories five days a week. This method seems to be useful for weight loss, but it is still necessary to make good choices on non-fasting days to improve weight loss.

Alternative fasting

This is a normal diet one day and complete fasting or one small meal (less than 500 calories) the next day. This can also be called the 4:3 diet. There is some evidence to show that this approach will lead to weight loss as well as a number of other benefits.

Diet 16:8

This method of intermittent fasting involves fasting every day for 16 hours without interruption and limiting the daily eating window to just eight hours.

For most people, this schedule means not eating anything after dinner and delaying breakfast for several hours. You might eat between, say, 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. This is the most popular and user-friendly of the fasting methods I use with my clients.

OMAD (One Meal a Day)

This diet is a little different than others, with most of the eating happening at one meal. In this model, you fast for 23 hours straight and then consume one large meal within a 60-minute eating window.

The OMAD diet, like other intermittent fasting diets, can help people lose weight. However, because it only allows for one meal each day, it can make meeting nutrient needs challenging and can have negative health consequences. It can also lead to weight loss plateaus if used for longer periods of time.

Crescendo method

This fasting pattern consists of fasting for 12–16 hours over two to three days per week and is a more gentle fasting plan. Fasting days should be non-consecutive, for example Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Crescendo fasting is often called the best fasting method for women because it works well with delicate female hormones instead of against them.


Also called the 24-hour protocol, it is a 24-hour complete fast once or twice a week (twice a week maximum for women) in which you abstain from eating any food for a full 24 hours.

Which intermittent fasting schedule is best for weight loss?

The short answer is whichever is easiest for you. We are all unique and what works for one person may not work for another.

In general, women should adopt a more flexible approach to fasting than men.

The female body is much more sensitive to hunger signals, so fasting for too long can affect women.

Each method has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Choose a dietary approach that works well with all the factors in your lifestyle, such as your work schedule, family dynamics, living situation, travel commitments, etc.

What to eat during intermittent fasting?

Although fasting is more focused on meal times, it is still very important to focus on quality nutritious foods as well.

Choosing nutritious whole foods and drinks during your eating windows will help ensure your results.

Choose low-glycemic fruits like berries, leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale, and high-quality protein sources like grass-fed beef, poultry, or wild-caught fish.

Keeping starchy carbs low will also keep insulin levels stable and reduce hunger caused by insulin spikes, making fasting much easier.

Is it better to fast for 12 or 16 hours?

Although studies show that a minimum of 12 hours of fasting is enough to get some of the benefits of fasting, the 16/8 intermittent fasting method is the most popular.

The 12 hour fast is ideal for beginners as most people sleep 7-9 hours a night, therefore 12 hours without eating involves little effort or stress. All you have to do is delay your breakfast by a few hours.

The main difference between a 12-hour fast and a 16-hour fast is that a 16-hour fast allows your body to enter the autophagy phase, where it begins to repair itself at the cellular level.


There is no one-size-fits-all method in the quest for long-term weight loss, but intermittent fasting can be an effective diet plan worth considering for those looking for an alternative to the “move more, eat less” paradigm.

The simplest approach to starting intermittent fasting is with a 12-hour fast and gradually increasing the fasting time to 16 hours as you acclimatize.

Remember, it’s critical to structure your eating windows around lean proteins, healthy fats, vegetables and fruits, and whole grains to ensure you’re getting the right nutrients to prevent deficiencies and disease.