The Science of Motivation

Four Types of Intermittent Fasting (IF) Protocols

Welcome to our series on Intermittent Fasting (IF) for weight management! I've had a lot of success myself following the 16:8 protocol (see below) and it's probably the only way I've found to keep my weight under control as a busy 48 year old, married father of three, with an inconsistent workout schedule. The secret is listening to your body and deciding if fasting is for you and what protocol to choose and stick with. Check out the post Intermittent Fasting 101 here for more basics on IF. Good luck and let me know if you have any questions! Thanks for reading.

If you are interested in starting intermittent fasting, the first thing you need to do is decide on a protocol. This type of fasting doesn’t just have one method, but multiple ones to choose from. Your preferences, schedule, and other details will go into choosing the one that is right for you. Here are four of the more popular choices.

The 16/8 Intermittent Fasting Protocol

The first intermittent fasting protocol you might want to consider is IF expert Martin Berkhan's 16/8 protocol. This is one of the easier methods of fasting and eating, due to its simplicity and because you don’t go as long while fasting. Naturally, at least half of your fasting period will be while you are sleeping, so that makes it a lot easier. Basically, you want to fast for 16 hours and eat for 8 hours. You just want to be sure you schedule it for the time of day when you tend to get hungriest or when eating is most convenient for you. This might include eating earlier and going longer at night without eating, or splitting it up. Do what works for you as long as each day you go 16 hours in a row without eating.

The Eat-Stop-Eat Intermittent Fasting Protocol

Also called the 24-hour fast, IF guru Brad Pilon’s Eat-Stop-Eat protocol requires you to go a full 24 hours during the fasting periods. You can either do this once or twice per week, so if you are just starting out, you might want to stick to doing it once a week. All you have to do is follow your normal diet the other 6 days of the week, then have one fasting day where you don’t eat or drink anything with calories. Just like all other protocols for intermittent fasting, that 24 hours should only include water, coffee, and tea, preferably with nothing added to it. This can start when you wake up, and end the following day, or you can choose a day in the middle of the day. This is often when people prefer to do it, otherwise you’re going over 24 hours.

The Alternate Day Intermittent Fasting Protocol

Another way you can do it is by fasting every other day. This is often referred to as an alternate day fasting protocol. There are many different versions of this, so feel free to experiment with it until you figure out what works best for you. For example, you may do 16:8 fasting protocols every other day, or do a full 24 hours fasting every other day. Some people have their fasting days be absolutely nothing but water and coffee, while others allow about 500 calories during the fasting days. Just remember to pick something that is sustainable for you and will work with your schedule.

The 5:2 Intermittent Fasting Protocol

The 5:2 diet is one where you eat your normal diet for 5 days out of the week, then fast the other 2 days. This is very similar to the 24-hour diet since the 2 fasting days are separating by at least one eating day in between them. However, you do want to eat about 500-600 calories even on the fasting days, which is one of the biggest differences.

The next post in the Intermittent Fasting Series:  The Benefits to Your Heatlh from Intermittent Fasting