Part 4: Intermittent fasting – what are the alternatives?

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As mentioned in the last article, 16:8 isn’t for everyone. That’s why it’s time to explore other options. Remember, fasting isn’t something our bodies developed around a particular daily clock, so it can come in many forms.

5:2 – If you can’t do ‘no food’, but are ok with nibbles

The numbers now refer to days, not hours. Five days a week you eat as per usual with two days in your week (not back to back) only eating 500-800 calories.

It’s an interesting variant, but focuses much more on achieving a calorie restriction for weight loss than many of the other more appealing benefits discussed in the article Intermittent Fasting II – Healthy Reasons To Do It.

You can eat a few very small meals throughout your two fasted days, so the benefits stemming from your digestive system completely shutting down are thrown out of the window.

If you keep your low calorie day foods to being fat and fibre based, you can also use it to reap the health benefits of improved insulin sensitivity.

The main issue people have is they don’t plan out their calories and end up either eating miserable foods or over-consuming. If you plan the meals though, it can be a useful rule to follow and one that celebrities have touted.

24:7 – For the random and busy, or the bulkers

Once every seven days, and for 24hrs. Some prefer Monday. First day of the week, no need to waste three hours of the day on making and eating food (you’ll be surprised how many hours it takes if you tally it up).

It’s also a great way to reset the gut after the weekend – especially if it included a fair bit of booze.

You feel the brain effects of the fast about 20 hours in, usually in the afternoon; which is primetime.

The only thing about doing 24-hour fast this way is that, having tested it, there’s no real point in eating dinner on Monday.

If you drink a lot of water, go to bed, and eat when you wake up on Tuesday morning, you’ve completed a 30-36 hour fast (depending on what time you stopped eating on Sunday).

Sleeping is the best way to get through the tough hours of a fast and this is a prime example.

To ease into it from a 16 to 18-hour fast, start eating dinner the night before earlier and earlier and… hey presto! You’ve taught yourself to go 24 hours without eating.

From here on the process of extending any further than that is up to what works for you and your life or tummy.

Instead, every two weeks you could be keen on attempting to hit the same calorie deficit by doing 48 hours or you could build even further to…

7:2 – If you’re healthy, carrying extra fat and don’t train very hard

Popular amongst those that aren’t obsessively active (or you’ll run out of steam) and have a fair bit of extra body fat to burn through. Or, those who are generally bad at sticking to 16:8 fasting.

Presenting, the 72-hour fast.

Again, it’s not recommend that you start with this. Nor should you do it weekly, but it can be an equally effective “reset” every month or two.

If you’ve already got a decent diet and have managed 24- and 48-hour fasts well, but are shifting a history of being overweight then you can consider this.

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