On the whole, intermittent fasting is considered safe for healthy people.
However, it’s not for everyone and you should seek medical advice on this dieting technique if you are:
- Pregnant or breastfeeding
- Under 18
- Diabetic or have blood sugar problems
- Suffering from an eating disorder
If you’re interested in trying intermittent fasting, you’ll be surprised to find there’s not just one way to do it.
Instead, there is a range of fasting schedules, each bringing its own differences to the table.
It can be difficult to know where to start, and which one is right for you.
We’ve come up with a list of the 4 best intermittent fasting schedules, to help you hit your weight loss goals sustainably.
1. 16/8 intermittent fasting schedule
Also known as ‘time-restricted feeding’, the 16/8 method is a daily intermittent fasting schedule that cuts your eating window to 8 hours per day.
It’s simple to follow:
- Decide when your eating window will be (between 12 pm and 8 pm for example).
- Don’t eat anything other than water or calorie-free drinks between 8 pm and 12 noon (for most people this means just skipping breakfast).
- Eat healthy, balanced meals during your eating window.
The great thing about the 16/8 schedule is that you get to eat two meals a day, and as long as you keep them healthy, you’re sure to see some sustainable weight loss.
You can also pick which hours work best for you before you begin, meaning you can adjust this intermittent fasting schedule to suit your routine.
Sticking to the 16/8 schedule ensures that you’re fasting every day, getting these health benefits by keeping your body in ‘fasting mode’ once a day.
Make sure you’re being consistent with your fasting window, if you eat from 12-8 one day and from 9-5 the next, then you won’t be leaving enough time for your body to get the most out of this method.
2. The 5:2 method
Unlike the 16/8 schedule, this intermittent fasting method is based around fasting twice a week, not every day.
In the 5:2 schedule, you have 2 non-consecutive fasting days (like Monday and Thursday) and eat as usual for the rest of the week.
On your fasting days you’re allowed to eat a small, 500-calorie meal (this is for women, men should aim at getting 600 calories in).
On your eating days, we recommend you stick to a balanced diet that includes lean protein, whole grains, and plenty of fruit and veg.
- Pick your 2 fasting days, these shouldn’t be next to each other – Monday and Thursday are popular choices.
- Eat healthy meals on the 5 non-fasting days.
- On your fasting days, cut your food intake down to one small (500 calories) meal a day. You can drink water, black coffee, and calorie-free drinks all day.
The 5:2 schedule is perfect for beginners, as you get to eat normally for 5 out of 7 days a week.
And getting to have a small meal on your fasting days can make the 5:2 method easier to stick with.
This fasting method is great for reducing your calorie intake, which over time can lead to you hitting and keeping your weight loss goals.
Also known as the 24hr method, the eat/stop/eat fasting schedule is similar to 5:2 and involves 1-2 days of fasting a week.
Unlike the 5:2 method, it involves a 24 hour period of fasting where you eat zero calories, so we encourage anybody trying this out for the first time to start with just one fasting day.
Most people schedule their fasting period from one day to the next, sleeping for 8 hours of their fast.
For example, starting your fast at 12 pm on a Wednesday and ending it at 12 pm on Thursday means that you still get to eat on both days.
Let’s take a look at the eat/stop/eat pattern:
- Choose your fast day and times, such as 12 pm on Wednesday – 12 pm Thursday.
- Eat a normal, balanced diet 6 days a week.
- On your fast day, don’t eat anything for 24 hours.
- Make sure that you keep hydrated, and drink plenty of water and calorie-free drinks.
The eat/stop/eat method is easy to remember, and can be done just once a week.
Make sure you stick to a healthy diet for the rest of the week to get the most out of the eat/stop/eat method.
4. Alternate day fasting
Alternate day fasting is exactly what it says on the tin, fasting every other day.
Like the 5:2 schedule, you can still eat a small amount on your fasting days – restricting your food intake to 25% of your normal calories, about 500 kcals.
It couldn’t be easier:
- You can eat normal, healthy meals on your ‘eating’ days.
- Every other day (Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday for example) cut down your calorie intake to around 500 kcals.
- Make sure to stay hydrated with plenty of water or calorie-free drinks.
The great thing about alternate day fasting is that it’s really effective for cutting down your weekly calories, and can lead to very efficient weight loss.
This method might be a bit tougher for beginners, so we suggest easing yourself into alternate day fasting by trying the 5:2 schedule to start with.
As always, make sure to stay hydrated and if you experience any side effects like headaches or feeling faint, then talk to your doctor before carrying on with this method.
What’s the best intermittent fasting schedule?
There are many different ways to try intermittent fasting, but which one is the best?
Well, each method has pros and cons.
Some people like the 16/8 method because you can eat every day.
Other people like the 5:2 method as you only need to fast twice a week, with no major restrictions on what you can eat on your normal days, as long as it’s healthy.
The bottom line is, the best fasting schedule is the one that works for you.
Some are more flexible than others, and it’s important to factor in things like how much exercise you do.
If you’re looking to lose weight, boost your metabolic health and live a healthier life, consistency is key.
The new Miboko app is the perfect partner to help you along on your weight loss journey.
It not only helps you with planning and tracking your meals, but uses the world’s first needle-free blood sugar sensor to give you personalized advice based on your body’s unique reaction to different food.
Miboko gives you expert advice on sleep, stress, and exercise as well as weight loss, helping you to live healthier, feel better, and hit your weight loss goals for good.