“Intermittent fasting” involves having set hours or days, for eating, separated by set hours or days, for fasting. The periods of fasting allow the body to use up energy from food so that it can start using energy from fat. There are four basic schedules of intermittent fasting:
“Time-restricted eating” involves eating a limited number of hours each day, with a minimum 12-hour period of fasting.
“The 5:2 diet” involves eating normally for five days a week and then having a 24-hour, calorie-free period once or twice a week.
“Zero-calorie alternate day fasting” is when someone eats every other day only. On alternate days no calories are consumed.
“Modified Alternate Day Fasting” involves eating normally every other day. On alternate days a much lower number of calories are consumed.
Intermittent fasting is associated with weight loss as well as improvements in inflammation, blood sugar levels, blood pressure, cholesterol and insulin sensitivity. The question for many people, however, is “Which schedule leads to the greatest weight loss?”
Of the four schedules for intermittent fasting, the two that produce the most weight loss are the 5:2 diet and Modified Alternate Day Fasting.
Researchers have yet to answer two very important questions:
What is the long-term safety of intermittent fasting?
Can people who have lost weight with this method keep the weight off once they are no longer on the diet?
Before starting an intermittent fasting diet, it’s important to make sure you don’t have any health conditions, such as diabetes, that involve special nutritional considerations. If you do, ask your healthcare provider for guidance.