Intermittent Fasting: what is it and is it right for you?

You’ve heard about it, you’ve read about it, but other than what sounds like starving yourself is intermittent fasting?

Let’s break it down so you will understand more about the diet trend made popular because of its effectiveness for weight loss. Fasting is when one intentionally doesn’t take in any nutrients from food sources for an extended period of time. Intermittent means occurring at irregular intervals. Now when we put them together we can have a better idea of what intermittent fasting is all about.  Intermittent fasting is when we refrain from eating for a certain amount of hours per day or for a certain number of days in a week and then we eat in our regular way again.

There are three types of intermittent fasting methods and a few different types of diets within those categories. Whichever you decide to try, it’s always a good idea to review your next diet plan with your health professional for their advice and recommendations before you begin any new eating regimen.


The first method is called the 16:8 diet. This is when fasting is for 16 hours and feasting is for 8 hours. An easy way of looking at this would be if you don’t eat anything after dinner until lunchtime the following day. The second method is called 12-hour fasting. This is when fasting and feasting are each 12 hours a day. Both of these are examples of eating in a time-restricted way but can be a little less difficult if you time your fasting during your sleep hours.


The third method is called alternate day fasting which is exactly what it sounds like; where you can fast 1 day and feast the next and then fast, then feast. The fourth method is a modified version of the third, where on fasting days, the calories consumed aren’t zero, but around 25% that of normal daily intake. 


The fifth method is called the 5:2 where fasting occurs 2 days of the week and feasting is during the other 5 days.  A less restrictive version of this diet would be on the fasting days where 25% of the normal calories are taken in, instead of zero-calorie consumption. 


On each of these diets, it is advised that the intermittent faster consumes zero-calorie drinks like coffee and water to avoid dehydration. 


Intermittent fasting is a great option for those who do not typically count calories or do not like to avoid certain foods (like carbs on the keto diet). Changing your eating times and habits, and ensuring you’re choosing healthy food options during your feasting times are what makes intermittent fasting a very palatable choice when deciding which diet to try next.