Healthy Eating

The 6 Most Popular Ways to Do Intermittent Fasting Explained

Interested in intermittent fasting? Find out which method may work best for you.

By: Lauren Manaker MS, RDN, LD, CLEC

Following time windows where you eat unrestricted amounts of calories and when you avoid eating altogether, also known as intermittent fasting, is linked to a slew of positive health outcomes, including reduced inflammation, weight loss, and improved heart health. Intermittent fasting is a popular way to eat, and many people have adopted this lifestyle with impressive results. 

There are different intermittent fasting patterns that people can follow, from refraining from eating for only a few hours each day to fasting for a full 24 hours. And among these various patterns, there are some more popular ways to do intermittent fasting that are great for beginners and experienced fasters alike.  

RELATED: Expert Hacks on The Best Way to Get Started With Intermittent Fasting

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Before digging into the most popular ways to do intermittent fasting, it is important to understand what intermittent fasting actually is. 

Simply put, intermittent fasting means that a person eats during a designated time frame. Periods of fasting either include consuming very limited amounts of calories or no calories at all, and the periods of eating allow for unrestricted consumption of calories. When a person is following intermittent fasting, they focus on the times that they are eating, not necessarily what they are eating. Of course, there are always exceptions to this rule (like for those who follow the Warrior Diet)

When a person is in the fasting state of their intermittent fasting cycle, hydrating calorie-free beverages like water, sparkling water, unsweetened coffee or tea, and bone broth are permitted. 

The Most Popular Ways to do Intermittent Fasting 

There is no one “best” way to practice intermittent fasting, as people need to cater to their own lifestyle needs and health concerns. While the internet is swarming with different suggestions for various ways to do intermittent fasting, there are some that are more popular than others. As such, here are six popular ways to do intermittent fasting. 

12:12 Method 

This method is a type of time-restricted eating that involves fasting for 12 hours and eating within a 12-hour window. This method is one of the simplest and most flexible forms of intermittent fasting, as it doesn’t involve significantly reducing calorie intake or restricting specific foods.

14:10 Method

As a great intermittent fasting schedule for beginners, the 14:10 method means that you eat during a 10-hour window and then fast for the remaining 14 hours each day. Since most of us sleep around eight hours every day, that would mean that you only have six waking hours of fasting to manage if you are following this pattern. 

16:8 Method

Following a 16:8 method means that you eat during an eight-hour window every day, and then you fast for the remaining 16 hours. This may mean that you eat breakfast around 7 AM to break your fast, and you enjoy your food and drinks that contain calories until 3 PM, when you then enter your fast until 7 AM the following day. This may also mean that you skip breakfast and break your fast around, say, 11 AM, and your final meal will be enjoyed at 7 PM that day. 

5:2 Method

With the 5:2 intermittent fasting pattern, instead of focusing on which hours each day you are allowed to eat, you reduce your caloric intake drastically for 2 days each week and then eat freely for the remaining days. People may eat between 500 and 600 calories on the calorie-restricted days, but this can vary. 

Alternate-Day Fasting 

When a person practices alternate-day fasting, they follow an unrestricted diet for 24 hours, followed by a complete fast on the following day. Some people will eat around 500 calories a day on their fasting day, which is far less than what they eat on their non-fasting day. 

The Warrior Diet

The Warrior Diet is a bit different from the other methods of intermittent fasting. With this diet, people will eat small amounts of fruits and vegetables during the day, and enjoy one large meal at night. This method focuses on foods that fall within the paleo diet guidelines. This diet is not meant to be followed over the long term. 

How to Know Which Method is Right For You

Once you have decided to adopt intermittent fasting, your next step is to decide which method is right for you. Since it appears that people reap benefits from following all of these methods, there truly is no wrong method to try. Taking your lifestyle, schedule, and comfort level into account, you can evaluate the pros and cons of each choice to determine which is best for you. Generally, it is best to make this decision with your healthcare provider to ensure that you are opting for the safest method for your personal needs too. 

Different Intermittent Fasting Plans For Different Lifestyles 

Intermittent fasting has helped millions of people reach their health goals without the need to go on a major diet or live without their favorite foods. Thanks to the different fasting schedules that are available, people can choose which version of intermittent fasting they want to follow that works best for their body’s unique needs. From a 5:2 pattern to a 16:8 plan to a more-extreme Warrior Diet, there are plenty of intermittent fasting plans that people can try out and land on whichever feels right. Bonus? If the first pattern that was chosen isn’t a match, people can simply try another one out. In due time, intermittent fasting followers are bound to find the pattern that is best for them.