Intermittent Fasting Schedule - Whats the best way to go about it?

So what is the best Intermittent Fasting Schedule? The question people actually want to ask is more likely to be which intermittent fasting schedule would help them lose weight the fastest?

Well, what we will do is briefly look at some of the schedules in an almost text book fashion before I share my experiences with the 2 types that I have utilised most effectively.

Basically Intermittent Fasting Schedule here refers to splitting the day(s) into the Fasting and Feeding Period. Basically, you fast for x hours and then feed during the remaining y hours. Now over the years, there have been various versions tested some of which are highlighted below.

  1. 16/8 Method (and its sibling 18:6)

The 16/8 method, also known as the Leangains method, is probably the most popular intermittent fasting schedules. It involves fasting for 16 hours and then eating within an 8 hour window.

Beginners who are starting Intermittent Fasting usually go for 16/8 since most of us are so conditioned to have breakfast that many people might not be able to go about their daily work if they skip their breakfast.

The idea would be to "skip" breakfast and have lunch and dinner. Most of the Fasting part happens at night when one is asleep.

This is relatively easier since once you eat at say 9 pm, your next meal would be at 1 pm the next day. And so it would continue. Why I say this is for beginners is that this is the equivalent of skipping breakfast one day when you’re late to work /college etc.

From my personal experience, the gains that one sees here are limited. Beyond a certain point, your body gets used to this quite quickly and its kind of easy to not go into a caloric deficit while on this schedule. But one very important development could happen using this schedule. You can experience that after a relatively short period of time, that we as a whole, eat a lot more than we actually need (unless you’re into proper physical work). The mind set change needed to get into an Intermittent Fasting Lifestyle can be initiated using the 16/8 Intermittent Fasting Schedule.

Once you have a hang of 16/8, I'd suggest moving into the 18/6 Intermittent Fasting Schedule.

18/6 is just adding 2 more hours to the Intermittent Fasting Schedule. But this leads to certain significant lifestyle and mind-set changes:

a. You start having dinner early say 7:30 pm. Now this is more folk wisdom but I feel that Late dinners (beyond 8 pm) aren’t good for us. Check with your grandparents, you see that almost all of them would have had dinner by 7 pm when they were children.

b. Builds you up mentally. You’re not meant to be eating constantly. And please note that Intermittent Fasting is used to achieve caloric deficit only if you’d want to lose weight. It can be used to maintain as well. The change would be that you’d consciously have more food during the feeding window.

Personally, I have found 18/6 more effective than 16/8 to meet my goals. Those going to office may find it difficult to have an early dinner. For them 16/8 during the week and 18/6 on weekends is one way to mix it up and meet your goals.

But do remember, you have to be conscious of what you eat irrespective of which Intermittent Fasting Schedule you use.

2. 5:2 Diet

The 5:2 diet involves eating normally for five days of the week and then restricting calorie intake to 500-600 calories for two non-consecutive days. On the two fasting days, individuals may choose to eat one or two small meals, such as a vegetable soup or a small salad.

This diet can be challenging to follow for some individuals, as it involves two days of significant calorie restriction. However, it can be a useful option for individuals who may not want to fast every day.

Note: I have not tried this out but have just included it in the overall discussion for Knowledge purposes.

3. Alternate-Day Fasting

Alternate-day fasting involves fasting every other day, meaning you'd eat normally on one day and then fast the next day. On fasting days, individuals may choose to consume up to 500 calories, typically in the form of a small meal.

Apparently this schedule can lead to rapid weight loss, but in my opinion this would difficult to follow long term. I haven't done this so can't really comment more on it.

4. Warrior Diet or One Meal A Day (OMAD)

The Warrior diet (I didn't name it such lol) or OMAD as I shall refer to it going ahead involves eating one large meal at night and fasting during the day. During the fasting period, individuals may consume small amounts of nuts, black coffee or tea, and dairy once in a while.

Apparently, this eating pattern is inspired by the eating habits of ancient (probably Roman) warriors, who would fast (out of compulsion) during the day and then eat a large meal at night.

This is the culmination of the 16/8 and 18/6 Intermittent Fasting Schedules and in my opinion and experience, it is the most effective for weight loss as well as the most difficult to follow. For most people, this is isnt sustainable or recommended. But believe me, the effects are rapid. Fun Fact: Twitter Founder Jack Dorsey used to practise this method (not sure if he still does).

The following link is from my first attempt at OMAD and I'll definitely write more on this - How to do it, what to expect etc.

5. Eat-Stop-Eat

The Eat-Stop-Eat method involves fasting for 24 hours once or twice a week. For example, an individual may choose to fast from dinner one day until dinner the next day, once or twice a week. I don't think this would work for most of us. It may be good for those seeking to "detox" from a week of heavy eating but beyond that, I don't see much use.

6. Spontaneous Meal Skipping

I have never done this and it feels like a proper Fad Diet but spontaneous meal skipping involves not having a meal when you don't feel that hungry. It makes sense to me in a way though.. Many times you'd notice that you eat simply because it's the socially acceptable thing to do at that time. This isn't a recommendation to not eat properly, it means that you eat when you feel like and within your macros (ensuring the right amount of nutrients).

Based on what I have read (I have not practised this) it seems that this is usually used by people not actively looking to lose weight but simply want to eat better /less.

Issues with choosing the right Intermittent Fasting Schedule.

Most of these would resonate with working professionals especially those that currently have long working hours. But you can tweak the schedule based on your requirements (see:( ).

  1. During the fasting period, you will experience hunger and random cravings, which can be challenging to manage. These will reduce /can be controlled over time and there are ways to make it easier (
  2. Difficulty with Social Events and Meal Planning - Intermittent fasting can be challenging to incorporate into social events and meal planning. For example, individuals following the Warrior diet may struggle to find a large meal to eat at night when dining out with friends or family. Or during some Lunch Meet at work etc. More importantly, you need to need to plan your meals carefully to ensure you aren't falling short of the right quantities of all essential nutrients.
  3. May Not Be Suitable for Everyone -Nutrition and Health in practise can have varying results with each and every one of us. So you need to identify if Intermittent Fasting isn't helping you mentally and physically. There are several other ways to modify your lifestyle to a more healthy version. Remember, this isn't a make or break event for anyone.