Intermittent fasting (IF) is a popular eating technique that sees you cycle between periods of eating and fasting. In short, it’s not really a diet but more of an approach to regulate how many calories you consume and when exactly you should eat.
Weight loss is the main reason why many men try intermittent fasting. It’s said that short-term fasting may increase your metabolic rate by 3.6–14% , which can help with increased calorie burn and fat loss. However, many people also use IF to potentially fend off disease and boost longevity.
Intermittent fasters don’t generally count calories, but they do take in a healthy diet full of essential macros.
As this way of eating becomes ever more popular, many variations of fasting techniques have popped up in recent years. Which one is right for you and will work best for your lifestyle?
Let’s find out. Here are the most popular intermittent fasting techniques and why they might suit your daily routine.
The 16/8 method
Best for: If you don’t get hungry in the morning
How does it work?
The 16/8 method involves limiting eating to an eight-hour window daily. This is typically between noon and 8 p.m. The best part about this method is that you don’t need to restrict yourself to fewer calories – as long as you eat healthily in your eight-hour window, you should lose weight.
You can also pick your 8-hour window to suit your day. If you don’t feel hungry first thing, the 16/8 diet could work for you, since you won’t touch a piece of food until the afternoon. Plus, you can still drink black tea and coffee alongside water to help boost feelings of fullness.
Best for: Super healthy eaters looking for a boost
How does it work?
This fasting technique is up there as one of the most popular ways to intermittent fast because of its ability to kickstart your metabolism slightly. When you reduce your eating window, you create a fasting period in which the body works to use its own stored glycogen from carbohydrates and fat as fuel.
Eat-stop-eat is where you have a ‘modified’ fast every other day. For example, you can limit your calories to 500 on fasting days and then go back to your normal healthy diet the next day. If you’re already on a strict diet and are used to eating less than you normally would, this approach would work for you.
You could even go the extra mile and totally restrict yourself of food on alternate days, for a whole 24 hours.
The warrior diet
Best for: Nocturnal eaters
How does it work?
Based on the eating patterns of our ancient ancestors, the Warrior Diet is where you consume little food during the day and then feast at night. For 20 hours every day, you eat little food and small servings of food such as raw fruit or vegetables, fresh juice or hard-boiled eggs.
After 20 hours, you can then essentially eat any meal you want within a four-hour eating window. This is ideal if you eat most of your food later in the day.
Eating at night is said to maximize the Parasympathetic Nervous System’s ability to help the body recover, promoting a sense of calmness and relaxation while aiding digestion. It may also help the body produce hormones and burn fat throughout the day. Eating just one meal a day has been shown to reduce fat mass and increase muscle mass.
The 5/2 diet
Best for: Maintaining muscle mass
How does it work?
Similar to the eat-stop-eat method, the 5/2 diet involves eating normally for five days a week and around 25% of your normal calories for the other two days. This means you’re spending at least two days of the week eating around only 500-600 kcals.
You will be required to count some calories with this technique. Many men use the 5/2 diet as their primary cutting diet as it’s surprisingly good at helping you maintain lean muscle mass. You don’t have to endure a consistent calorie deficit but the two days of the week allow your body to use body fat as energy and drop the weight. This method is effective for losing body fat and improving insulin sensitivity.
Who shouldn’t try intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is regarded as one of the safest weight loss methods available, especially for healthy, well-nourished people. However, it won’t suit everyone.
Some individuals should completely avoid dietary restrictions and fasting techniques completely. These include:
- People who frequently experience drops in blood sugar levels.
- If you have a history of eating disorders.
- Individuals with type 1 diabetes.
- If you are underweight or have known nutrient deficiencies.
It’s also good to keep in mind that binge-eating during your eating periods may offset any progress you make while fasting.
While there isn’t any method that’s necessarily better than the other, it all comes down to personal preference – and whether it’s a fasting technique you can stick to. If you have a medical disorder, you should check with your doctor before trying intermittent fasting.
To sum up
As you can see, there are many ways to try intermittent fasting. But which one suits your lifestyle best? Like we mentioned, it’s all down to personal preference as well as your fitness and wellbeing goals.
Discover which fasting technique is right for you by asking yourself: does it suit your lifestyle? Will you be able to handle the early days where you might get those hunger cravings? Ask yourself if it will put your health at risk or help you on your fitness and muscle building journey. Take it slowly, and be aware of your body. If it’s not agreeing with you, or if you need to eat a little something to hold you over, that’s absolutely fine.
Intermittent fasting is a popular weight-loss method – and for good reasons. If you struggle with standard calorie-cutting or you’re a man with a busy life, intermittent fasting might be for you. As always, be sure to speak to a healthcare professional if you’re ever unsure about starting a new diet or nutrition plan.