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10 Types of Fasting: Which One Should You Choose?
Intermittent Fasting

10 Types of Fasting: Which One Should You Choose?

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on 2022 August 23
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15 min

Our experts review all intermittent fasting types and specify the benefits and drawbacks of each of them. This guide will help you decide which fasting method might suit you best.

Intermittent fasting types

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Intermittent fasting (IF) is a form of eating that involves switching between fasting and consuming food on a schedule. It has been touted by many as one of the most effective ways to manage weight, and in some cases, even reverse various types of diseases.

The diet has been widely used by a smattering of stars and celebrities alike, leading it to be one of the most trendy diets out there, as well as its catalog of good results when managing weight.

Here at Health Reporter, we want to take a look at the various types of IF diets and the umbrella network of alternatives that go alongside it.

Which Fasting Type Is Best for You?

As we mentioned previously, there is a whole range of spin-offs from IF, each with its own pros and cons. It is important to do your research to ensure you find the form that is best suited and safest for you – although most forms of IF are safe, extended fasting periods are not always recommended for certain individuals.

Three things to think about are as follows:

#1 Ease

It shouldn’t be challenging to practice intermittent fasting. Throughout your fasts, you should feel fairly at ease.

This does not prevent you from being hungry. Hunger will always exist.

However, you might want to pause and think twice if the discomfort extends beyond hunger

Here are some indicators that your fasting protocol needs to be modified:

  • You’re having trouble sleeping.
  • When you’re fasting, you’re not in the best mood.
  • Your level of fitness is slipping.
  • You experience weakness, fatigue, or stress.
  • You don’t like it when family and friends eat in front of you.
  • Consider cutting your fast short if you exhibit one or more of these symptoms. Your well-being and comfort are valuable.

#2 Schedule

Your schedule will also affect how long you fast. Alternate-day fasting might not be for you if your family observes a special dinner custom. Family time might come first.

However, fasting generally frees up your calendar. You can fill such blocks with other activities when you aren’t concerned about meal preparation or eating.

For instance, many people use the productivity hack of skipping breakfast. When it’s finally time for dinner, eating is a reward for work well done.

#3 Health targets

Do you fast to reduce your weight? To remain muscular and lean? Or to gain more health advantages? IF has lots of benefits, but before choosing a fasting schedule, be clear about this rationale.

The longer regimens are probably more beneficial if you want to lose weight. You’ll eat fewer calories the shorter your feeding window is.

But bear in mind the first requirement – ease. You won’t likely follow the plan if you are always uncomfortable while fasting.

It’s also critical to remember that lengthier fasts are not recommended for preserving or adding muscle. There is too much risk of calorie and protein limitation.

10 Fasting Types Explained: Which Is Best for You?

#1 12:12 fasting

The 12:12 plan is essentially a form of intermittent fasting in which you eat for 12 hours of the day and fast for the remaining 12 hours. Instead of eating anytime you want throughout the day, this strategy compels you to restrict your daily calorie consumption inside a 12-hour window (i.e., 12 hours eating, 12 hours fasting). 

On this regimen, you would eat your breakfast at about 8 AM after eating your last evening meal or dinner at 8 PM, for example. According to some, the 12:12 fasting schedule is the easiest variant of intermittent fasting, especially for beginners looking to lose weight or simply improve their health.

The benefits of 12-hour intermittent fasting, which supports mitochondrial well-being, also include improved brain health because you are eating healthier and consuming fewer calories. Blood sugar, lipid, and cholesterol levels are also impacted by the 12:12 regimen.

As priorly mentioned, this method of IF is particularly good for those who are new to fasting and those just looking to lose a little weight. You should find it relatively easy-going, and if followed consistently, weight loss may occur.

Pros
  • Simple to follow
  • Good method to lose weight
  • Improves brain health
Cons
  • Some may experience hunger
  • Might not be as effective as longer fasting periods

#2 16:8 fasting

One of the most popular time-restricted fasting types is the 16:8 intermittent fasting. It entails eating during an 8-hour window each day and going without food – or fasting – for the other 16 hours.

Some think this approach is effective because it supports the body’s internal clock or circadian rhythm.

The majority of people who adhere to the 16:8 schedule skip meals at night, as well as for a portion of the morning and night time. They frequently consume the majority of their daily caloric intake in the afternoon.

There are no limitations on the kinds or quantities of food that can be consumed throughout the allotted 8 hours. This adaptability makes the strategy reasonably simple to implement.

The 16:8 diet plan’s suggested advantages include fat loss, weight loss, type 2 diabetes prevention, and other illnesses linked to obesity.

The 16:8 method makes intermittent fasting very simple for novices. Simply choose an 8-hour feeding window, consume one to three nutrient-dense meals during that time, and then refrain from eating the remaining 8 hours.

Water, herbal teas, black tea, and bulletproof coffee are still acceptable drinks. The most popular eating hours are often from 12 to 8 PM, although you are free to choose a time that works for your schedule. 

Pros
  • Simple to follow
  • Good method to lose weight
  • No change to the food you eat
  • May help with type 2 diabetes
Cons
  • Some may experience hunger
  • May affect your social life
  • Might be tricky to stick with in the long term

#3 18:6 fasting

During an 18:6 intermittent fast, all of your meals must be consumed within a 6-hour timeframe. Your window selection should be dependent on your lifestyle and what suits you the most. 

You could eat your first meal at 12:30 PM and finish your eating window at 6:30 PM. Others could decide to wait until later in the day to eat their first meal in order to eat dinner later. You might need to test out a few different schedules to find one that suits your lifestyle the best.

It is one of the more challenging intermittent fasting patterns. The 18:6 diet can be right for you if you have tried 12:12 or 16:8 and weren’t successful or if you want to speed up your weight reduction.

You can expect to see rapid results if you are able to stick with this method of fasting – although it has been tipped to be one of the more difficult fasting methods to stick with, given the long duration of time you need to go without consuming calories.

The 6-hour eating window helps many people digest food better. If you aim for an 18-hour intermittent fast, you’ll frequently have less bloating and indigestion than if you eat too frequently.

Your ability to sleep better may also depend on when you eat. Instead of finishing their meals just before bed, the majority of 18:6 fasters finish them between 6:30 PM and 7:30 PM.

Pros
  • Helps you digest food better
  • Improves sleep quality
  • Speed up weight loss
Cons
  • Some may experience hunger
  • Small timeframe to eat
  • Can be hard to follow

#4 The Warrior Diet – 20:4 fasting

The Warrior Diet, which is based on the principles of intermittent fasting, may help some people lose weight and improve their health – but beware, it is not safe for everyone to try.

Ori Hofmekler, a fitness expert, has written several books about diets. He developed and released The Warrior Diet in 2002.

The Warrior Diet was developed by Hofmekler using his knowledge of nutrition and survival science, according to the author’s website.

By eating the majority of one’s daily caloric intake within a 4-hour window, the diet promises to aid people in losing weight and fat. During this long fast, you might also need electrolytes.

People follow the first three phases of the Warrior Diet over three weeks:

#1 The detoxification phase, which begins in week one, aims to increase the body’s capacity to eliminate toxins and aids the liver in scavenging chemicals that cause fat storage.

#2 Phase two, adaptation to fat fuel (week 2), aims to increase the body’s capacity to use fat as fuel.

#3 The third phase, adaptation to carbohydrate fuel, aims to increase the body’s capacity to use carbohydrates as fuel.

Each stage includes times when you eat less during the day and more after dinner.

As the name and contents suggest, this diet is not for everyone. The elongated time of not consuming food can put certain people at risk. You can experience diarrhea or headaches. But the results of those who have managed to stick with the diet are very impressive.

Over the course of 8 weeks, participants who followed the Warrior Diet built more muscle while losing between 3 and 5 pounds of body fat. However, they also saw a rise in blood pressure and LDL cholesterol, which raises the risk of developing heart disease.

Pros
  • Increases the body’s capacity to use carbs as fuel
  • Detoxes the body
  • Helps you lose weight and fat
  • Helps build muscle
Cons
  • Likely to experience hunger
  • Not suitable for beginners
  • Rise in blood pressure likely
  • Increases the risk of heart disease

#5 Eat Stop Eat – The 24-hour fast

The ultimate test of willpower will be stretched here, with a 24-hour fast. This is for those who really want to challenge themselves, and apparently, the Warrior Diet isn’t hardcore enough.

In the popular intermittent fasting method known as Eat Stop Eat, you fast for 24 hours once or twice a week.

Although there is little research on this particular eating pattern, it may help people lose weight because they consume fewer calories and their metabolisms shift in a way that encourages fat loss.

People who want a plain, easy way to lose weight or improve other aspects of their health without having to restrict their diet or keep track of calories often turn to Eat Stop Eat.

The Eat Stop Eat method’s flexibility appeals to certain people.

The Eat Stop Eat technique does not necessitate any food restrictions or adherence to predetermined macronutrient ratios, in contrast to many other widely touted diets for weight loss.

The program’s sole “rule” is to refrain from eating for a full 24 hours on one or two different days per week.

In order to maintain maximum health, a person following any dietary pattern should make an attempt to eat largely nutrient-dense, whole foods. However, adhering to Eat Stop Eat doesn’t necessitate a specific diet.

According to numerous studies, fasting may cause blood pressure readings to drop to a safe range. Fasting’s capacity to increase BDNF-1 – a critical hormone that aids in blood pressure regulation – may contribute to some of this effect.

According to other studies, fasting may lower “bad” cholesterol levels. Additionally, if you have weight loss with the Eat Stop Eat diet, which is likely to happen, your blood pressure may further normalize. All things considered, these modifications will result in dramatically better cardiovascular health.

Pros
  • Speeds up weight and fat loss
  • Helps build muscle faster
  • Improves blood pressure
Cons
  • Likely to experience hunger
  • Not suitable for beginners
  • Hard to follow

#6 The Monk fast – 36-hour fast

Things are starting to get pretty extreme now, as we shift away from more commonly used fad diet types to the die-hard methods.

A once-a-week alternate-day fasting practice known as the Monk fast entails drinking nothing but water for a full 36 hours.

It is well-liked by dieters looking for an effortless solution to reduce weight and enhance their health because it has simple guidelines and no rigorous requirements.

It has nonetheless drawn criticism for being excessive, harmful, and very likely to be too difficult for most to sustain.

During the 36-hour Monk fast, you are only allowed to drink water and other calorie-free liquids like tea or coffee. 

Although you can pick when to fast, the Monk fast’s designers advise beginning on Monday after supper and breaking your fast on Wednesday morning with breakfast.

To stay hydrated during the fast, make sure to consume lots of water.

Furthermore, nootropics are allowed. These are a sort of supplement made to enhance concentration and mental function.

Drink some water and select a light, easy-to-digest meal before ending your fast. You have to stop fasting immediately if you feel dizzy, nauseous, or experiencing chest or stomach pain. Diarrhea and loss of consciousness are also signs to stop water fasting.

In order to maximize the long-term advantages, it is also advised to repeat the fast once a week.

It is safe to say that this method of fasting isn’t for the lighthearted, and beginners should look for alternative methods to fast successfully. For those looking for a challenge on the more extreme side of dieting, this could be for you.

Some people are also doing a 72-hour fast, but we only recommend following this regimen under supervision.

Pros
  • A good way to lose large amounts of weight fast
  • Enhanced health benefits
  • Autophagy
Cons
  • Very hard to follow
  • Not suitable for beginners or intermediate-level fasters
  • Many see it as excessive and harmful

#7 5:2 fasting

The most well-known intermittent fasting diet at the moment is the 5:2 diet, sometimes referred to as the Fast diet.

The 5:2 diet limits calories to 500–600 per day on any two days of the week while allowing normal eating on the other five.

This diet is more of a lifestyle because there are no restrictions on what foods to eat or when to eat them.

In order to maximize the long-term advantages, it is also advised to repeat the fast once a week.

You don’t have to think about calorie counting on the other five days of the week when you eat regularly.

Then, you consume only one-fourth of your daily needs of calories on the other two days. This equates to roughly 500 calories for women and 600 for men per day.

Any two days of the week are acceptable as long as there is at least one day that is not a fasting day in between them.

One typical weekly meal plan calls for eating normally the remaining days of the week after two or three light meals on Mondays and Thursdays.

It’s critical to stress that eating as normal does not entitle you to unlimited food intake. You won’t likely lose any weight if you gorge on junk food, and you might even put on weight.

The 5:2 diet is a market leader in terms of popularity, its excellent results, when done properly, coupled with its ease of access and follow, make it the perfect diet for those with clear goals, ideally looking to lose weight at a decent speed.

Pros
  • Simple to follow
  • A good long-term option
  • Good method to lose weight
  • No restrictions on what to eat
Cons
  • Some may experience hunger
  • Diet is more of a lifestyle and may hinder social life
  • Can gain weight if done incorrectly

#8 Alternate-day fasting

On this diet, you eat whatever you want on the days you don’t fast.

The most popular variation of this diet calls for something termed modified fasting, during which you are permitted to consume 500 calories or less.

Alternate-day fasting (ADF) may aid in weight loss and reduce risk factors for type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

The Every Other Day Diet is the name given to the most well-known variation of this diet by Dr. Krista Varady, who has also undertaken the majority of the research on ADF.

Whether the fasting-day calories are ingested at lunch, dinner, or as small meals throughout the day, the health and weight loss advantages appear to be the same.

Alternate-day fasting may be simpler for some people to follow than other diet plans.

However, 12-month research indicated that alternate-day fasting adherence – where calories were restricted to 25% of needed energy on fasting days – was not superior to regular calorie restriction.

The modified form, with 500 calories on fasting days, was employed in the majority of investigations on alternate-day fasting. Although it is just as effective, this is thought to be considerably more maintainable than complete fasts on fasting days.

This method of fasting does come with its challenges as well, as eating 25% of your usual calories on a fasting day may lead to adverse hunger. But once you are through the worst part, and with a little bit of determination – this method can be suitable for most.

Pros
  • Aids with weight loss
  • Improves heart health
  • May be beneficial for those with type 2 diabetes
Cons
  • Tricky to follow
  • May cause hunger
  • Not the best long-term option

#9 Meal skipping

Skipping meals is something we have all done at some stage, whether you are dieting or simply do not crave eating at a normal time – but how effective can it be as a form of IF?

Skipping meals and fasting between meals are two quite distinct practices. Fasting to control urges and practice mindful eating is different from skipping meals to deprive or punish yourself or because you’re too busy to eat.

In general, skipping meals has detrimental effects on your body.

According to findings, skipping a meal decreased daily caloric intake by 252 calories (breakfast) to 350 calories (tea). But skipping lunch or tea deteriorated diet quality by over 4% and skipping breakfast or dinner by 2.6%.

You can really feel your head spinning from skipping meals and not eating enough throughout the day. You might start to feel weak, lightheaded, and even like you’re going to faint. The decrease in blood glucose is to blame for this.

People who skip meals may feel as though they are owed something later in the day, which causes them to overeat during their subsequent meals.

All-in-all, meal skipping, when done under the correct protocols, could be suitable for a lot of people, but you are unlikely to see your desired results.

Meal skipping does not take a lot of planning, and those who do it are likely to overeat at a later date – it is not a recommended course of action when looking to lose weight; many in the list above are much safer and more consistent methods.

Pros
  • Can aid in weight loss
  • Can prevent overeating
Cons
  • Some may experience hunger
  • Can make you lightheaded or faint
  • Often leads to overeating and weight gain if followed incorrectly
  • Not really a recognized form of dieting

#10 OMAD

A severe kind of time-restricted eating, such as intermittent fasting, is the One Meal A Day (OMAD) diet. The OMAD diet offers a 1-hour feeding window, in contrast to intermittent fasting, which often permits a 4 or 8-hour food window. So, for the remaining 23 hours of the day, you fast.

The OMAD diet is not advised by nutritionists and may even be harmful to persons with specific health issues, despite the fact that various forms of intermittent fasting have been demonstrated to be an efficient strategy to lose weight.

The OMAD diet does not place any limitations on the kinds of food or the number of calories you can consume within that 1-hour window. However, you should try to eat the number of calories that are advised for someone of your height, weight, age, and gender.

When following the OMAD diet, maintaining appropriate fluid intake is crucial. Try diluting apple cider vinegar in a glass of water or drinking lemon water – both of these options won’t break your fast.

Throughout the day, the diet permits the use of water, coffee, or tea; however, other beverages, such as low-calorie or diet drinks, are not permitted.

For a regular 23-hour fasting period, it’s also advised that you eat at the same time each day.

This is another example of one of the more extreme fasting types out there, something that, for most, is simply not feasible and, at times, would be rather dangerous.

That’s not to say that you won’t get results, but your body is prone to entering survival mode after long periods without food, so this diet, in particular, would push those boundaries to the max.

There are other safer IF methods out there we would recommend you try before committing to OMAD.

Pros
  • Can aid in weight loss
  • Can help build muscle
Cons
  • Some may experience hunger
  • Can be harmful
  • Not suitable for beginners and intermediate fasters
  • Potentially dangerous as your body enters “survival mode”
  • Not suitable long-term

Final Thoughts

So there you have it, a collection of some of the more commonly known ways of intermittent fasting, as well as a smattering of ultra versions.

It’s important to note that while all of them have their pros and cons, each diet can work for someone, you just have to do some research and consult your doctor to make sure your preferred method is safe for you.

Do not fast if you have a history of eating disorders, are breastfeeding or pregnant. Take care of your health and always consult with your healthcare provider before starting following any intermittent fasting regimen.

Whether you want to push your body to the max or have a simple-to-follow, long-term solution is up to you – there is always a method that can fit into your schedule.

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed byRosmy Barrios, MD
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