If you are interested in starting intermittent fasting, the first thing you need to do is decide on a protocol. This type of fasting doesnít just have one method, but multiple ones to choose from. Your preferences, schedule, and other details will go into choosing the one that is right for you. Here are four of the more popular choices.
The 16/8 Protocol
The first intermittent fasting protocol you might want to consider is called the 16/8, or LeanGains. This is one of the easier methods of fasting and eating, due to its simplicity and because you donít go as long while fasting. Naturally, at least half of your fasting period will be while you are sleeping, so that makes it a lot easier. Basically, you want to fast for 16 hours and eat for 8 hours. You just want to be sure you schedule it for the time of day when you tend to get hungriest or when eating is most convenient for you.
This might include eating earlier and going longer at night without eating or splitting it up. Do what works for you as long as each day you go 16 hours in a row without eating. I go into the 16:8 Protocol in this post.
The Eat-Stop-Eat IF Protocol
Also called the 24-hour fast, the Eat-Stop-Eat protocol requires you to go a full 24 hours during the fasting periods. You can either do this once or twice per week, so if you are just starting out, you might want to stick to doing it once a week. All you have to do is follow your normal diet the other 6 days of the week, then have one fasting day where you donít eat or drink anything with calories. Just like all other protocols for intermittent fasting, that 24 hours should only include water, coffee, and tea, preferably with nothing added to it. This can start when you wake up, and end the following day, or you can choose a day in the middle of the day. This is often when people prefer to do it, otherwise, you’re going over 24 hours.
The Alternate Day Protocol
Another way you can do it is by fasting every other day. This is often referred to as an alternate day fasting protocol. There are many different versions of this, so feel free to experiment with it until you figure out what works best for you. For example, you may do 16:8 fasting protocols every other day, or do a full 24 hours of fasting every other day.
Some people have their fasting days be absolutely nothing but water and coffee, while others allow about 500 calories during the fasting days. Just remember to pick something that is sustainable for you and will work with your schedule.
The 5:2 Diet Protocol
The 5:2 diet is one where you eat your normal diet for 5 days out of the week, then fast the other 2 days. This is very similar to the 24-hour diet since the 2 fasting days are separating by at least one eating day in between them. However, you do want to eat about 500-600 calories even on the fasting days, which is one of the biggest differences.
Tips for Starting an Intermittent Fasting Protocol
By now, you have probably read about intermittent fasting and all of its health benefits, but now it is time to start planning. You should not just jump into it without getting all the pertinent information, and definitely not without planning ahead of time. Here are some tips for starting an intermittent fasting protocol.
Plan Ahead of Time
One of the most integral parts of starting an intermittent fasting protocol is planning properly. You need enough time to plan ahead, including choosing your protocol, and knowing when and how to eat. Don’t just spend 20 minutes reading about IF, then assume you can start tonight. It takes time to learn about different methods and what will work with your schedule. Take the time to write down what times of the day you will eat, workout, and fast, so that you know what to expect.
Don’t Follow the Common Mistakes
There are some mistakes that people tend to make when they begin with intermittent fasting. By planning ahead, you are already avoiding one of the common pitfalls. In addition, try not to obsess too much about the eating and fasting windows. This is where many people go wrong. Just eat at the same time for each eating window, and it should be fairly easy. You can also set timers or put it on your calendar if that is simpler for you. Over time, you will become accustomed to how long you go without eating.
You also want to avoid these common mistakes:
- Don’t binge eat when itís time to eat after a fast
- Avoid excessive cardio when you are fasting
- Don’t use this as an excuse to eat what you want
- Eat as Healthy as You Can
When you first start with a new intermittent fasting protocol, make sure when you eat, you are eating healthy food, but donít be too strict. There is a delicate balance here between nourishing your body and providing an essential fuel that gets you through the next fasting stage, but not depriving yourself so much of what you want, that you canít stick with intermittent fasting. It is okay to eat how you normally would with intermittent fasting, unless you have some type of strict diet regimen you need to stick to, from low-carb to being gluten-free. It is also a good idea to talk to your doctor about what to eat even while doing intermittent fasting.