The word “Fasting” can be scary at first, especially if you are American. We seem to equate fasting with starvation almost immediately. There are many cultures and religions where fasting plays a huge role in a person’s life. These individuals often find it easier to accept fasting as a possible option.
What is fasting? The simple answer to that is not eating. This overly simple explanation begs more questions. One of the first is “What is the difference between starving and fasting?” There is a clear distinction here. Fasting is a choice that you make to abstain for a specific time period. Starvation is either compelled or forced upon you by your environment. Imagine someone who is truly starving and suffering from malnutrition, set a plate of food in front of them. They eat. What you are considering now is that you will live in a society full of food options, you will live in a house full of food options, and you will even interact with others while they choose to eat. However, YOU decide to abstain for a temporary period. That’s all fasting encompasses.
The term “intermittent” in front of the word fasting, takes away some of the scary nature of these misconceptions. Perhaps it is the visual reminder that this is not permanent but rather an occasional or even scheduled activity.
What does intermittent imply?
I think this means two things, but we will talk mostly about the most common use of this term for informational purposes. A true intermittent fast by definition would be randomized and not the same exact schedule each day. However, it is common to usage to us the term IF for any fast under 24 hours. Let’s look at a few common examples.
16/8 – This is perhaps the most widely recognized method of Intermittent Fasting. The first number indicates the number of hours that you intend to abstaining. The second number represents the amount of time you are allowing yourself to consume food. So, in a 16/8 you will have 8 hours to consume, and 16 hours to fast.
18/6 – Same as above but reduced window to consume.
19/5 – Same as above but reduced window to consume. This method is popular with those utilizing Fast 5, popularized by Dr. Bert Herring. He has a book titled AC: The Power of Appetite Correction. This link takes you to Amazon, I have no connections to Dr. Herring, I receive no money from him for advertising. This book was instrumental to me in my journey, I recommend it to everyone who considers fasting.
20/4 – This is another common window. It is often associated with the Warrior Diet. I find this to be misleading. You can practice a 20/4 fasting schedule without following the specifics of Ori Hofmekler’s protocol.
22/2 & 23/1 & OMAD – Almost no realistic difference in these practices. Some will restrict to only One Meal A Day (OMAD), while others will try to consume calories in a designated window of 1 or even 2 hours. Fundamentally these are all the same.
5:2 – This protocol is different from the others because the numbers do not indicate hours, but rather days. In this you will eat normally for 5 days each week. 2 days each week you will fast, often for 24 hours but there are a few variations to opt for in this protocol.
That is the basic overview of what IF is, and some of the ways it can be implemented into your schedule. There are many ways to customize each to meet your goals. Many people choose to add dietary restrictions to the fasting protocol. These are completely optional and unique to your goals.