Unimeal
BlogNutrition10 Intermittent Fasting Schedules for Beginners and Pros

10 Intermittent Fasting Schedules for Beginners and Pros

6 mins read
Rashida Ruwa
Written by Rashida Ruwa on November 09, 2022
Dr. Olena Avdiievska, MD, RDN
Medically reviewed by Dr. Olena Avdiievska, MD, RDN
Dr. Olena Avdiievska, MD, RDN

Medically reviewed by Dr. Olena Avdiievska, MD, RDN

Dr. Olena Avdiievska is a nutritional and medical expert at Unimeal. She is an MD and RDN in Dietology and nutrition and a university professor with 76 scientific publications. 

Unimeal provides articles with trustworthy and experts-proved information. Our health content is reviewed by professional nutritionists and trainers to extract for users the most verified and medically checked data.

In 2016 Japanese cell biologist Yoshinori Ohsumi won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his autophagy process research. He medically proved that fasting activates the autophagy process that can help cells recycle and renew their content. Regular fasting can slow down the aging process and positively impact cell renewal.

Table of content

After his discovery, intermittent fasting became very popular strategy among people who care about their shape and health. So let's find out how intermittent fasting works and what fasting plans are best for you. 

What is intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting is a simple eating pattern that cycles between periods of eating and fasting. During the fasting phase, your body falls into ketosis – metabolic process that burns fat for energy instead of carbohydrates. Ketosis helps with to weight loss and improves overall health.

For beginner, the whole concept seems a bit daunting since there are so many different schedules, and it's hard to know which one is right to choose. The most popular schedule is 16/8 where the 16 hours of fasting interchange with 8 hours of eating occasions. Will discuss the whole variety of programs, so you’ll find the best option that matches with your lifestyle and goals.

Why it works?

There are many theories about why intermittent fasting works. Still, the most compelling one is that your body burns fat more efficiently when you fast. Since you're going to be eating fewer calories than you usually would, your body will burn fat for energy instead of storing it. 

This means that even if you eat after fasting, you won't gain weight from food intake because most of what goes into your system will be burned up by your body first, lasting up to 48 hours. 

Intermittent fasting benefits

In addition to weight loss, intermittent fasting also comes with some other additional benefits:

  • It's been proven to help improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels. This means that it could be beneficial for those with diabetes.
  • One review study has shown it reduces your body fat percentage. At the same time, it increases muscle mass, giving you a better body composition.
  • Lowers risk of heart disease. The research made in 2021 has shown intermittent fasting reduces LDL (bad) cholesterol and lowers blood pressure.
  • Intermittent fasting reduces inflammation, which can help with inflammatory conditions like arthritis.
  • Your brain also benefits from intermittent fasting. This simple diet can increase focus and improve mental clarity.

Possible side effects

Intermittent fasting is generally safe, and healthy and has many health benefits. But it can also have some drawbacks:

  • Headaches and dizziness, if you're new to fasting or your body hasn't yet adjusted to this new way of eating.
  • Low energy and cravings, especially if you're doing a low-carb diet.
  • Hunger, which is expected because your body is not used to not having food available at all times.
  • Lightheadedness because your blood sugar levels will drop when you're in ketosis.
  • You may also experience fatigue or forgetfulness during your fasts.

How to start intermittent fasting?

If you're looking to start intermittent fasting, here are a few things you should keep in mind:

  • Find a schedule that works for you. There are several different plans, so it's important to find one that fits your lifestyle and schedule.
  • If you're a beginner, don't try to do it all at once. It's best to take things slowly and gradually increase your fast over time.
  • Set a goal and then break it down into smaller goals you can meet along the way.
  • If you find yourself feeling particularly hungry on non-fasting days, then add in some extra protein or healthy fats like nuts or seeds to keep yourself feeling full.
  • Make sure that you're well-rested and well hydrated before you start fasting. 

16:8 - Also known as the Leangains protocol, it involves fasting for 16 hours per day, then eating during an 8-hour window. For example, if you eat at noon each day, you'd finish eating at 8 pm that same night.

20:4 - To do it, fast for 20 hours per day and eat within a 4-hour window, usually in the evening. For example, eat dinner at 6 p.m, then don't eat again until 2 p.m. the next day.

5:2 - With this plan you eat normally for five days a week and restrict calorie intake to 500 - 600 on two non-consecutive days per week.

18:6 - This plan involves fasting for 18 hours and limiting meals to six hours during the remaining 6 hours of the day. 

12:12 - To do it, eat for 12 hours and fast for 12 hours each day. For example, if you fast from 6 pm to 6 am, the rest of the day would be your feeding window. 

14:10 - To do it, fast for 14 hours, and your eating window is 10 hours. For example, you can eat dinner at 7 p.m. and fast until 9 a.m. the next day. 

19:5 - This schedule involves fasting for 19 hours and eating for 5 hours. It's best for a beginner or those who need help sticking to a strict diet.

24 hour fast - It is a simple form of intermittent fasting. To do it, eat your last meal at dinner and then don't eat again until the next day at dinner time. For example, if you usually eat dinner at 7 p.m., stop eating at 7 p.m., then don't eat again until 7 p.m. the next day.

Warrior diet - Involves fasting for 20 hours and then eating for 4. The fast begins after dinner, and the feeding window can start at 8 am. 

Alternate day fasting - This plan involves eating on alternate days, but the fasts are not absolute. You can still consume calories on the fast days, but you should keep them to about 500-600 calories. 

How long should you do intermittent fasting?

The length of your fasting window depends on the kind of intermittent fasting schedule you're using. In general, most intermittent fasts last between 12 hours and 24 hours. You can choose an intermittent fast based on which plan fits your lifestyle best.

Best intermittent fasting method for weight loss

The best intermittent fasting method for weight loss will differ depending on your goals and body type. However, the 16:8 schedule is one of the best intermittent fasting methods for weight loss because it's easy to follow and is generally well-tolerated by women.

Who shouldn't do intermittent fasting?

If you have any of the following conditions, you should talk to your doctor before starting an intermittent fasting plan:

  • Diabetes
  • Have low blood pressure
  • Are underweight
  • Use certain medications that require food intake
  • Are a woman who is trying to conceive
  • Have a history of eating disorders like anorexia
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding

Conclusion

Intermittent fasting is a great way to lose weight and improve your health, but the best thing about this diet is that it's so flexible and customizable. That means you can choose an intermittent fasting schedule based on what works for you, your goals, lifestyle, and dietary preferences.

How do you feel about my article?

Unimeal does not diagnose or suggest treatments. Any description of the diet, training plan or supplement should be discussed with your current physician or nutritionist. This article does not address specific conditions and is simply meant to provide general information on healthcare topics. Following any advice is at your own initiative and does not impose any responsibility on the blog authors for your health and safety.

Sources:

☝️

By choosing high-quality sources, we make sure that all articles on the Unimeal blog are reliable and trustworthy. Learn more about our editorial processes.

1.
Collier R. 2013 Jun 11. Intermittent fasting: the science of going without. CMAJ. DOI:10.1503/cmaj.109-4451
2.
Shaoyong Xu, Yuxin Jiang, Yuhai Zhang, Wenlei Xu, and others. 2022 Dietary recommendations for fasting days in an alternate-day intermittent fasting pattern: A randomized controlled trial Nutrition, Volume 102. DOI:10.1016/j.nut.2022.111735
3.
Johnstone A. 2015. Fasting for weight loss: an effective strategy or latest dieting trend? Int J Obes (Lond). DOI:10.1038/ijo.2014.214
4.
Adrienne R. Barnosky, Kristin K. Hoddy, Terry G. Unterman, Krista A. Varady. 2014 Intermittent fasting vs daily calorie restriction for type 2 diabetes prevention: a review of human findings. Translational Research. DOI:10.1016/j.trsl.2014.05.013
6.
Yang F, Liu C, Liu X, Pan X, Li X, Tian L, Sun J, Yang S, Zhao R, An N, Yang X, Gao Y, Xing Y. 2021. Effect of Epidemic Intermittent Fasting on Cardiometabolic Risk Factors: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Front Nutrition. DOI:10.3389/fnut.2021.669325