Intermittent Fasting – Types of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting can be used for weight loss and several hundred studies over the years show that in addition to inducing weight loss, it can improve immune regulation, slow the aging process and induce autophagy (degradation) of decayed and damaged cells. Intermittent fasting may work for some but there are caveats to starting a program that involves extending fasting.

First, you must also understand that intermittent fasting does not mean fasting for a period of time then eating off-the-rails the rest of the time. For intermittent fasting to work, you must eat healthy and appropriately on the non-fasting days to see the effects, especially if your goal is to lose weight. You also need to have good adrenal reserves —meaning if you have low energy and also feel weird and tired, this may not be the best thing for you. Adrenal fatigue is real and it’s impact on hormones and fat storage can be made worse by fasting. So if you are not sure about if you may have adrenal fatigue, you may want to get fully checked out before starting on a fasting program.

If you are considering intermittent fasting, here is a breakdown of the various methods to consider:

The 16/8 Method

  • Fasting every day for 14 -16 hours — restricting eating to a 8-10 hour window daily.
  • Created by Martin Berkhan.
  • Usually not eating anything after dinner, and skipping breakfast.
  • For example, if you finish your last meal at 8 pm and then don’t eat until 12 noon the next day, then you are technically fasting for 16 hours between meals.
  • Women are recommended to only fast 14-15 hours, because they seem to do better with slightly shorter fasts.

Alternate Day Fasting

  • Fasting either with a complete dietary fast of no calories every other 24 hours, or fasting with less than 500 calories every other day.
  • Many labs testing the efficacy of intermittent fasting have used this method.
  • Most proponents fast from a dinner one day to the dinner the next day, allowing for one meal over the 24-hour period.
  • This may be the hardest plan as it takes quite a bit of will power later in the day.

The 5/2 Method

  • Fasting on a low-calorie protein, sparing fast of 500-800 calories two different days a week.
  • Created by British journalist Michael Mosley.
  • Usually not eating anything for breakfast and reducing calories two days a week while eating regularly throughout the rest of the week.
  • For example, Tuesday and Thursday women would eat 250 calories for lunch and dinner and a man would eat 400 calories for lunch and dinner.
  • Women are recommended to only fast 14-15 hours, because they seem to do better with slightly shorter fasts.
  • No real studies on this particular type of intermittent fasting.

Eat, Stop, Eat

  • Fasting one to two times a week — restricting all foods on restriction days to non-caloric foods, then eating normally during the rest of the week.
  • Created by Brad Pilon.
  • Most proponents fast from a dinner one day to the dinner the next day, allowing for one meal over the 24 hour period.
  • This may be the second hardest plan behind the every other day fasting as it takes quite a bit of will power later in the day.

The Warrior Diet

  • Fasting during the day and eating a huge meal at night.
  • Created by Ori Hofmekler.
  • Most proponents fast with a little vegetable or fruit during the day and then have a larger, Paleo meal at dinner.
  • Food choices are key to this diet — one cannot eat processed foods and attain the goals of intermittent fasting.

Fasting Mimicking and Enhancing Dietary Programs

  • Protocol born out of more than 20 peer reviewed clinical studies that are being conducted at the University of Southern California and in other leading US and European university hospitals.
  • Fasting enhanced diet of caloric restriction with reduced carbohydrate and protein macronutrients with adequate fat for 5 days — calorie count of 500 calories that day.
  • Food choices quite specific and controlled during the five days — meal kits are coming to the market from L-Nutra in the near future.
  • Fasting is repeated as often as one time a month to one time every six months as needed.

Varady Alternate Day Fasting

  • Fasting day of a reduction in calories of 75%.
  • Protocol born out of studies at University of Illinois, Chicago.
  • Fasting calorie count of 500 calories that day.
  • Fasting is repeated every other day.

Intermittent fasting is not for everyone. It is not something that anyone needs to do; it is just another tool in the toolbox that can be useful for some people.

Studies have shown that intermittent fasting may not be as beneficial for women as men because of the hormonal impact to leptin sensitivity in women.

Should You Try Intermittent Fasting?

If you think a method of intermittent fasting could greatly simplify your nutrition, then maybe you should give it a try.


And please keep in mind, no method/nutrition approach will produce the results you want if you’re miserable and fall off the wagon. You need to find a method you enjoy and that you can stick to long term.

Betty Murray, CN, IFMCP, CHC is a Certified Nutritionist & Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner with the Institute for Functional Medicine, founder of the Dallas-based functional medicine clinic Living Well Dallas and Executive Director of the the Functional Medicine Association of North Texas. A master of the biochemistry of the body, Betty teaches her clients how to utilize nutrition for autoimmune diseases, digestive disorders, MTHFR and weight loss.  You can find her book “Cleanse: Detox Your Body, Mind & Spirit” on Amazon here.

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