For the ultimate way to lose weight, clear your mind, and gain more energy, look no further than fasting. From lowering your risk for disease to improving memory, you can enjoy loads of health benefits just by changing when you eat.
While fasting diets have existed for thousands of years, many of today’s trendiest eating plans such as paleo and keto also include a fasting component. Depending on your eating habits and health goals, you can find a fasting regimen as unique as you.
Fasting can fit into any diet — but if you need more structure, you have options. Here are some of the most popular fasting diets, plus how to find the one that works best for you.
Types of fasting diets
- Limit eating to a single 8-hour window every day, typically between noon and 8:00PM
- For best results, limit carbs to dinner and stay hydrated throughout the day with water, plain black tea, or Bulletproof Coffee
- After adapting to a 16-hour fast, try an 18-hour fast with a 6-hour eating window to get even more out of intermittent fasting.
Takeaways: 16/8 is one of the most popular fasting diets, and makes the perfect transition for anyone new to fasting. Basic 16/8 does not restrict your food choices during your eating window, but a low-carb diet with nutrient-dense foods can accelerate weight loss and boost your results.
5:2 fasting diet
- Eat as usual for 5 days per week, and limit calories to between 500 and 600 for 2 days a week (either spaced apart or done together)
- Enjoy three small meals or two slightly bigger meals during calorie-restricted days
- It’s safe to exercise on both fasting and non-fasting days, so go ahead and work out if you want to
Takeaways: Studies show that 5:2 fasting may lead to weight loss and improved insulin resistance (which can reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes) compared to cutting calories alone. For best results, eat nutritious foods like green veggies and fish on non-fasting days, and try not to overeat.
Eat Stop Eat fasting diet
- Eat normally for 5 days, then fast for 24 hours twice per week
- During normal eating days, eat nutritious foods, but do not eliminate food groups or give up the foods you love — your fasting time provides all the calorie restriction you need
- Schedule 24-hour fasts so that you still eat something at least once per day. For example, eat at 7:00AM on Friday, begin your fast at 8:00AM, and eat again after 8:00AM on Saturday.
Takeaways: Similar to 5:2, the Eat Stop Eat fasting diet allows you to follow normal eating patterns most of the week. However, there is no specific data to support its effectiveness. Note that it may be harder to avoid blood sugar crashes if you don’t cut carbs and fill up on the right fats during normal eating days.
4:3 fasting diet (aka alternate day fasting)
- Fast every other day, and eat what you want during non-fasting days
- Stay hydrated on fasting days, and limit yourself to a 500-calorie food intake
- Eat as much as you want on non-fasting days
Takeaways: The 4:3 plan may help you lose weight, but you might have trouble sticking to the plan. Research suggests that this particular fasting diet leads to feelings of hunger and irritability, which may keep you from adopting it long-term.Since the official 4:3 fasting diet doesn’t recommend what foods to eat, the plan may not address long-term inflammation or nutrient deficiencies — so you may still be at risk for disease and weight gain.
- Fast or eat less than you normally eat over a 20-hour window, then eat one large meal during a 4-hour evening window
- Minimal eating window may include raw produce like berries or leafy greens (in unlimited amounts), zero-calorie fluids like green tea, and even small amounts of protein like poached eggs.
- Eat wholesome, organic, high-nutrient foods during the evening meal
Takeaways: The Warrior Diet is based on author Ori Hofmekler’s experiences in the Israeli Special Forces and his theories on ancient warriors’ eating habits — not hard science. Depending on the approach, the Warrior Diet may not deliver the benefits of other fasting diets because it allows for more frequent eating.
One meal a day (OMAD)
- Fast for 23 hours and eat your daily calories during a 1-hour window
- For time to eat socially and still digest before bedtime, consider eating between 4-7PM every day
- Drink Bulletproof Coffee during fasting periods to stay fuller longer, avoid feeling “hangry,” and enter into a fat-burning state faster
Takeaways: OMAD provides all the benefits of fasting while simplifying your schedule and approach to food. Because OMAD naturally restricts calories down to a single meal, it can also maximize the weight loss benefits of fasting diets. Since OMAD requires more effort, avoid trying it until you have more experience with fasting.
Spontaneous meal skipping
- Skip meals when you don’t feel hungry
- When you do eat, follow your normal diet
Takeaways: This fasting diet uses an intuitive approach — perfect for anyone who wants total flexibility. To shed more pounds and keep your blood sugar steady, eat a low-carb diet high in healthy fats during non-fasting periods.
Bulletproof Intermittent Fasting
- Fast for 18 hours and limit eating window to 2-8PM
- During the fasting window, drink Bulletproof Coffee
- If desired, work out shortly before eating
Takeaways: Bulletproof Intermittent Fasting sidesteps the “hangry” feeling you might get from other fasting routines because it keeps you energized and nourished with healthy fats. Plus, this protocol helps you reach ketosis (a highly effective fat-burning state) more quickly without breaking your fast. You can supplement Bulletproof Coffee in any fasting diet.
How to find the best fasting diet for you
Like most biohacks, finding the perfect fasting diet takes some experimenting. Try a larger eating window at first, then gradually work your way up to fasting for longer periods. Always consult with your healthcare practitioner if you have a medical condition that could interfere with your fasting results.
Fasting may feel difficult (especially for beginners), but it should never feel like torture. With the right fasting diet, you can regain control over your eating habits and reap all the benefits from this ancient biohack.