Did you know there are dozens of different ways to fast? The health benefits are similar, but everyone partaking claims their way is the best way. Some types of fasting are more “extreme” than others, and are best attempted only after your body has been prepped a bit. Others are more suitable for first timers and provide a less “white-knuckled” experience.
Let’s talk about how fasting leads to weight loss.
First, the scale weight lost is going to be water loss. Our body, at any given time, is comprised of about 75% water. The food that you eat, your organs, your tissues, muscles, and digestive tract all hold water. When we limit our food intake, or fast, the body does not require or hold onto the same amount of fluid. So, obviously, when you fast, or after a fast, you can expect to weigh less on the scale.
But that’s not the whole picture. While you fast, and yes lose water weight, you also decrease fat. Not only should you expect that water weight to return, it will almost return automatically. The body fat, however, will only return if you store it.
If in the process of fasting your body uses stored body fat as energy, once that fat is gone, your body doesn’t need it or look for it again, unless you have excess energy. Then, your body may store that energy as fat. This happens when we have too much glucose available.
Water, on the other hand, is essential for human functions, digestion, joints and organs. When you eat again, your body must hold on to additional water, water it didn’t need while you were fasting. The scale will go up as your body begins to need that additional fluid. That doesn’t mean you’ve gained body fat, however.
So how much body fat could a person lose if they were doing a fat adapted fast? Well, The average adult can lose up to 1% of their body weight in body fat per day. That means after three days of fasting, it’s possible to lose up to 3% of your body fat. Body fat, doesn’t weigh nearly as much as water or muscle, but it takes up significantly more space. So a 3% loss in body fat may have an insignificant difference on the scale, but a dramatic difference in your health, your metabolism and the way your clothes fit.
Keep in mind, the average person can expect to see the scale go down between a half a pound and two pounds per day while fasting. And the scale only measures overall weight, it does not measure body fat.
How to Choose the Best Fast for You
When choosing between the different types of fasting, consider the following:
- Whether you’re new to fasting or you’re experienced.
- Your personal body type and health status.
- What your overall objective is from doing the fast. Would a short one-off fast from time to time suit you? Or are you looking for something you can sustain more long-term? What are you trying to achieve or experience?
- Your personal lifestyle, responsibilities and commitments. You need to consider how your fasting regime will fit in with your “real life.”
Intermittent fasting is a type of fasting whereby you alternate between periods of eating and not eating. It’s a regular, cyclical form of fasting that people choose to do on an ongoing basis. Intermittent fasting is a great option if you want to establish a regular pattern of eating.
Of all the different types of fasting, intermittent fasting is the one that has caught the health world by storm in recent years. It’s the one you have probably heard about all through the media.
Within this category there are actually many types of intermittent fasting. Here are some of the most popular ones, along with the basics on their ratios of eating to not eating:
A type of intermittent fasting designed for people who want to achieve gradual weight loss. It involves eating normally for five days per week and fasting for two. Fasting days restrict calorie intake to 500 for women and 600 for men. This could be a good choice if you are getting started on your fasting journey. The 5:2 diet is a type of “whole day” fasting (although as mentioned, you aren’t totally abstaining from food on any one day).
Eat Stop Eat Fasting
This method involves a 24-hour fast once or twice per week, but with no food at all on fasting days. Therefore it could be considered a more extreme version of the 5:2 diet.
The 16:8 Diet
This type of intermittent fasting is done over each 24-hour window. Fast for a 16-hour period overnight and into the morning. Then eat during the next 8 hour window. This type of intermittent fasting works well for beginners. It’s an especially popular choice if you’re not much of a breakfast eater. The 16:8 diet is a type of “time-restricted” fasting.
Alternate Day Fasting
This one is pretty straightforward. Alternate between one day of eating what you like and either not eating, or eating restricted amounts the following day. Alternate day fasting is a slightly more advanced type of IF than 5:2 or 16:8, depending on how restrictive your fasting days are.
The OMAD Diet
OMAD stands for “one meal a day.” Quite simply, during every 24 period you fast for 23 hours and then have a one hour eating period. During this time you can eat what you like. It’s a popular choice for people with very busy lifestyles who like the notion of only having to eat once per day and who don’t want to count calories.
The Warrior Diet
This is one of the different types of fasting where you don’t need to totally abstain from food for a period of time. Small portions of raw fruits and vegetables can be consumed during the day (the fasting period). Larger, well-balanced meals are consumed at night during a four-hour eating window.
Of all the types of intermittent fasting, this is the one with the greatest level of personalization. The 131 method helps you to discover what types of fasting best suits your individual health status and personal needs. And, you prep your body in advance of the fasting protocol you choose, making the experience much more tolerable, and in many cases, quite enjoyable.
Now let’s look at six other types of fasting…
Juice and Fruit Fasts
There are many different variations of juice fasting. Essentially, juice fasting involves drinking only fresh juices and water for a period of time, usually starting with one day. This is suitable for beginners because it allows some calories and nutrients during the fasting period. Some forms of juice fasting involve fruit juices only, vegetable juices only, or a combination. They may also allow whole fruits and vegetables.
Juice fasting could also be turned into a type of intermittent fasting whereby you do a juice fast once every month, or once each week, for example. It’s a common choice for those who say they want to “detox” their body.
Of all the different types of fasting, water fasting could perhaps be the oldest type. As the name implies, you drink only water for a set period of time, often starting with one day, and sometimes building up to several days as you gain experience. Water fasting should be considered a more advanced type.
Fast mimicking is a modified type of fasting. Some might not consider it fasting at all, but more of a calorie restricted diet. Fast mimicking involves eating very small amounts over a period of time, which is typically five days. The diet is usually high in fats and low in protein and carbohydrates.
It was designed to be more achievable than certain forms of fasting, although some people could struggle with the ongoing calorie restricted nature. Some body types do better with one fasting window rather than five consecutive days of restriction (often around 40% of regular calories).
The overall objective of fast mimicking is to obtain the benefits from traditional types of fasting, but without completely abstaining from food. Studies on this one are limited, but early research suggests some similar benefits to traditional types of fasting[i][ii].
Religious fasts range based on beliefs and rituals. They don’t all necessarily involve food. Some might involve abstaining from sex, or from modern day technology, such as TV and movies.
One widely known religious fast that involves periods of abstaining from food is “Ramadan.” This is an annual month long Islamic fast which involves fasting from sunrise to sundown each day. Some religious fasts are “partial fasts” where food is still consumed regularly, but certain foods or food groups are removed for a period of time.
Unlike the other different types of fasting, diagnostic fasting[iii] is normally a medically prescribed fast. It is usually performed prior to some sort of medical check-up or procedure such as a surgery or colonoscopy. Fasting will occur over a period of somewhere between 8-72 hours before the procedure.
Along with “juice fasts” cleansing fasts are another of the different types of fasting that people may choose when they want to “detox” the body. There are different types of cleansing fasts that aim to eliminate toxins from the body. Most of them involve consuming some sort of liquid (and only that liquid) several times per day. “Cleansing” drinks often include ingredients such as lemon, and/or spices. Some come in the form of laxative teas.
There are many different types of fasts to choose from, so aim to find one that suits your needs and goals. There are also many variations within each type. Which of the different types of fasting have you tried and what benefits have you noticed? We’d love to hear about it, so please leave a comment in the box below to let us know!