What’s the Best Way to Intermittent Fast?

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Which Type of Intermittent Fasting Is Best?

Today’s question comes from Tom.

Tom writes, “Hi Brian. I am 70 years old and looking to lose 20 lbs. I eat very healthy but need to cut down on the calories. I have read a few books over the past few weeks and decided to use an intermittent fasting program. Trying to pick the best one for me–any thoughts on this would be appreciated.”

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Intermittent Fasting (“IF” for short), here’s a quick breakdown

24 Hour Fast

  • 1 – 2x weekly, you go 24 hours without eating
  • Example: You don’t eat after 8PM, and then you don’t eat again until 8PM the next day

16 Hour Fast

  • Every day of the week you go 16 hours without eating
  • Example: Every day, you don’t eat until 12PM and don’t eat again after 8PM

500 Calorie Fast

  • 1 -2x weekly, you only eat 500 calories (roughly 1 small meal)
  • Example: On Monday, you only eat 1 piece of chicken, a banana, and a whole bunch of vegetables

Tips for Intermittent Fasting

  1. Engage in resistance training multiple times a week
    1. Fasting breaks down muscle–training preserves it
    2. IF is NOT recommended if you are not an active person
  2. Eat plenty of nutrient-dense foods (fruits, veggies, beans, etc.) and protein
    1. Any time you reduce calories, you run the risk of reducing nutrition too. Eat plenty of nutrient-dense foods to ensure you don’t suffer from inadequate nutrient intake.
    2. Protein will help keep muscle loss at bay, especially in conjunction with exercise.
  3. Take an essential amino acid (EAA) supplement or a branched chain amino acid (BCAA) supplement during your fasting periods
    1. EAAs and BCAAs will help prevent muscle loss and potentially increase fat burning without “breaking” the fast

How Do I Choose?

  • If you’ve never fasted before, try a couple of methods
  • Choose the method which is EASIEST for you
  • There is NO scientific advantage comparing one to another
  • Fasting is NOT more effective than other methods of weight loss
    • It’s just another tool in the belt–it works for some, is difficult for others
  • The best weight loss program is the one you can stick to!

Do YOU have a favorite method for fasting? Let me know in the comments below!

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About the Author

Brian Rigby, MS, CISSN is a health and nutrition writer and author of the recently published book The Multivitamin Lie, which explores how and why food is a better source of health-inducing nutrition than multivitamins. He also writes for Rational Nutrition, a blog dedicated to clarifying confusing topics in nutrition and debunking common myths.

Brian has a master of science in applied clinical nutrition and a specialized certification in sports nutrition. He works with athletes in the Boulder, CO area to harness nutrition in the pursuit of optimal performance.

Brian was a key nutritional science contributor to The Cheat System Diet by Jackie Wicks.

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