Tired of the same old intermittent fasting routine? In the real world, our interest can wane over time, and old fasting relationships become less exciting. But everyone knows the key to a long-lasting relationship is spicing things up!
If you’re looking for variety and a little healthy experimentation, you’re in luck. Fasting goes beyond just intermittent fasting – there are actually four different types of fasting to choose from (including IF). Each brings something slightly different to the table, from fat loss to longevity to cell rejuvenation.
Let’s do some speed dating with this quick start guide to each of the four types of fasting.
Ok, ok, I know I said we were spicing things up and trying something fresh, but intermittent fasting is our tried and true partner – it deserves a mention! Plus, I’m giving you more details about the different fasting schedules that all fall under the IF name. So, give IF some love and keep reading before we move on to other potential partners.
Put simply, intermittent fasting incorporates shorter periods of fasting (keyword: intermittent) done frequently. This type of fasting is best for body composition and reducing fat. Because it’s practiced frequently, IF is an entire lifestyle shift that changes your body overtime.
With intermittent fasting, you get a variety of methods to choose from. If you get bored with one fasting schedule, try something new. Here are a few of the most popular varieties of intermittent fasting.
Also known as the Leangains method, the 16/8 method of fasting is simple: fast for 16 hours and feed for 8 hours. For most, this means fasting through the night and then delaying their first meal (basically skipping breakfast) until the full 16 hours has passed.
The 16/8 method is super easy for beginners. A lot of people are too busy to eat in the morning as it is – so simply skip breakfast. You’re more likely to stick with this method because it’s (almost) completely effortless.
Bonus tip: You can vary the hours for fasting and feeding a bit, if you’d like. For example, you can fast for 14 hours and then have a 10-hour feeding window. Just make sure you’re fasting period lasts at least 12 hours, or you won’t get all the awesome IF benefits.
The Alternate Day method is your basic 24-hour fast on an alternating schedule – fast one day, feed the next, repeat. Some people also refer to this method as the UpDayDownDay Diet. On your fasted days, you can either completely restrict all food or allow yourself 500 calories or less. This makes it a little easier to stick to.
But fasting for 24 hours is difficult for many people, especially newbies. It requires a lot of self-discipline, but it also keeps you in that fat burning state longer. I would recommend starting out with the 16/8 method and slowly extending your fasting time until you can power through a 24-hour fast.
Also known as “The Fast Diet”, this approach is a branch off from the Alternate Day method. Instead of fasting every other day, you fast 2 days per week. Here’s the breakdown: eat normally 5 days a week and restrict eating for the remaining 2 days.
You should separate your fasting days in the week (for example, fast Monday and Thursday). Ideally, there should be at least 1-2 feeding days between the fasting days.
On the two fasting days, you still get to eat – hooray! But limit your intake to only around 500 calories. You can spread those calories out into a couple of meals or eat them all at once.
The Warrior Diet isn’t technically an intermittent fast, but it takes some of the ideas behind IF and implements them in its own unique way. With this method, you eat only a very limited amount of raw fruits and veggies during the day, and then you finish off the day with one huge meal at dinnertime.
This basically adds up to a 20-hour fasting window (again, with very small amounts of fruits/veggies) and a 4-hour feeding window.
This is a relatively easy fasting-like diet because you’re allowed some small snacks throughout the day. And a lot of people love the idea of a glorious feast to look forward to at the end of the day!
Prolonged fasting is exactly what it claims to be – a prolonged period of fasting generally lasting 48 to 72 hours. The primary reason for trying out a prolonged fast is to reap the health and longevity benefits.
How does it work? When you are in a fasted state for a really long period of time, autophagy occurs. Autophagy literally means self-eating – yes, you’re turning yourself into a cannibal (sort of). In other words, this is the body’s way of recycling – it eats weak, worn-out cells and uses them as energy to make new, healthy cells.
Prolonged fasting can also boost your immune system, reduce inflammation, and make you feel young and new again!
This isn’t a fasting protocol that you want to do regularly. I recommend incorporating a prolonged fast into your routine only once or twice a month.
Ok, liquid fasting isn’t technically a fast because you’re actually allowed to consume some calories during your fasting window. With a liquid fast, you can drink liquids like water, tea, coffee, which is typical of most other types of fasting also. But you also get to drink some liquids with calories, such as bone broth or even an occasional soda (yup, you read that right!).
So, what’s in it for you? A liquid fast is primarily used to boost your digestive system, while giving your gut a break. Bone broth is high in gelatin (basically cooked collagen), which helps heal and reinforce the lining in your stomach. It also reduces inflammation.
Liquid fasts typically only last a day or two and can be repeated once every 1-2 weeks.
Now we’ve come to the most extreme version of fasting – the dry fast. This means no food or water for 20-24 hours. There are two ways to do a dry fast:
Soft dry fast – You’re not allowed to drink or eat anything, but you can still come in contact with water (i.e. brush your teeth, wash your hands).
Hard dry fast – No food, no water, and no touching! You’re not allowed to even touch any water. Hardcore.
Why would you want to go to the extreme and try dry fasting? Because it also offers up extreme benefits. In fact, one day of dry fasting equals about 3 days of general fasting.
The way dry fasting works is by drawing water out of weak cell, thereby destroying them. Nobody got time for weak cells! It’s also super effective in reducing inflammation. But maybe the biggest benefit to a dry fast is fat loss. During a dry fast, your body goes full-on MacGyver mode – it takes hydrogen from fat cells and oxygen from breathing to create water in the body. Your body converts fat to water!
Because dry fasting is an intense commitment, I recommend doing only one dry fast every 3-6 months.
Spice up your life! Experiment with these different types of fasting to maximize your health and reach your personal goals. And the best part is you don’t have to commit just one – when it comes to fasting, you can be polyamorous. Your body will benefit from any and all of these fasting options, so dabble away!
Lilli is a weight training enthusiast with a background in both CrossFit and powerlifting. She lives on a ranch in Texas where she has built an amazing home gym right in her own backyard (err, garage). When she’s not working out, Lilli works as a freelance writer and travels as often as possible.