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Three types of fasting strategies

By Matt Cavallo
Three-types-of-fasting-strategies_1.jpegEditor's Note: The following is the view of the author. MS Focus does not endorse any particular treatment, modality, or practitioner. For specific advice, please consult a healthcare professional.

In the previous installment, I discussed my desire to lose 25 pounds and how a lab test and random Dr. Oz Facebook post illuminated the way to intermittent fasting. In this post, I am going to discuss different intermittent strategies, what I chose, and how it is working.

So what is intermittent fasting? Let’s talk about what intermittent fasting is not. Intermittent fasting is not a diet. Diets restrict what you can eat meaning cutting certain foods out of your life like bread, pastas, and sweets. You know, all the delicious foods you crave. 

Intermittent fasting is not that. If you like bread, eat bread. If you like pasta, eat pasta. Or for those who like desserts, let them eat cake. Intermittent fasting is not what you eat, it is when you eat it.

Fasting is not a diet and it is not new. People have been fasting for thousands of years. Many religions incorporate fasting around certain events. When you feel sick, you may not feel like eating and decide to fast until you feel better. Fasting is a natural human process which our bodies can handle.

In a previous article, I discussed our circadian rhythm, our internal clock, and the importance of sleep schedules. Once your body gets on a schedule it can be beneficial to both your physical and mental health. Once your body gets used to a schedule it can take some training to get it off of that schedule. 

One schedule most of us have been on our whole lives is an eating schedules. We have been conditioned to be hungry three times a day and that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. So, imagine my surprise when I watched Dr. Oz tell me that breakfast, as we know it, isn’t the most important meal of the day and that we could all benefit from intermittent fasting.

In order to adopt an intermittent fasting strategy, you have to break with the notion of three square meals a day. You have to deprogram. It was easy for me not to crave breakfast on the day of my labs, because I told myself I couldn’t eat until after the labs were done. This is my approach to intermittent fasting. I am resetting my internal clock.

In my research, I have found three main types of intermittent fasting. 

1. The 16/8 Method. The 16/8 method means that you fast for 16 hours a day and eat for eight. This method allows you do to most of your fasting during sleep. For example, pick an eight-hour window like from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. where you can eat and then don’t eat outside of it. 

2. The 5:2 Diet. This allows you to eat normally for five days and pick two days to fast. Then, on the two days you fast, women can consume 500 calories and men can consume 600 calories. 

3. Eat Stop Eat: This method requires you to not eat anything from dinner on one day until dinner the next day, which is a complete 24 hours of fasting. You should do this once or twice a week with this method.

When I looked at these examples, I needed the consistency of the 16/8 method. I would rather do something every day so that I remember it, whereas I could foresee giving myself excuses for forgetting days on the 5:2 and Eat Stop Eat methods. Dr. Oz also uses the 16/8 plan, so I was able to follow his fasting plan. 

Here is my approach:
12 p.m.: Lunch – usually a sandwich on sprouted bread and apple
2 p.m.: Snack – yogurt, fruit or vegetable
5 p.m.: Dinner – a sensible dinner, as sensible possible with kids
6 p.m.: Optional Dessert – a small sweet treat or fruit

Tips and Tricks
  • Drink water in the morning right when you wake up, there are many health benefits.
  • Did you know that we mistake feeling hungry for being dehydrated? 
  • Again drink water and as much of it as you can throughout the day and you won’t be hungry.
  • Drink coffee or tea during fasting, but without adding any sweeteners, creamers, or milk.
  • When you do eat, limit your caloric intake, meaning eat smaller portions during the eight hours you can eat.
  • Commit to it and stick to it, results don’t happen overnight.
  • Change isn’t easy, but it is worth it.
  • If you fail, it’s okay, changing behaviors can take time.

I am in my first week of intermittent fasting and I don’t miss breakfast. The first couple of days were hard because I was conditioned to think I needed breakfast, but I found that I am fine with drinking water and black coffee. I also noticed that when I eat, I am not as hungry. The first couple of days I binged around supper time, but now I have learned that I don’t need to make up all my calories in one meal. 

The biggest thing is that I am committed to losing the weight. I put 25 pounds down on a piece of paper and signed the contract. Part three of this series will be to let you know whether or not it worked.