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Intermittent Fasting: Everything You Need To Know

by | Dec 14, 2022 | Last updated Dec 22, 2022

If you’re in the process of trying to lose weight, you probably spend a lot of time thinking about what you should eat. But, have you ever given any thought to when you eat? Whether it’s to shed some weight, have more mental clarity or improve performance in the gym, a growing number of people are experimenting with their food timing to reap physical benefits. Enter, the world of intermittent fasting.

What is intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting is an eating style that has grown in popularity over the past few years. Rather than focusing on what you can or can’t eat, intermittent fasting focuses on when you can or can’t eat. Think of it as meal timing vs. meal planning. Given the focus on meal timing, intermittent fasting is less of a diet and more of a pattern of eating. At its core, intermittent fasting alternates periods of eating with periods of fasting — with the goal of unlocking various health benefits.

What are the benefits of intermittent fasting?

intermittent fasting guide

Some of the reported benefits of intermittent fasting include:

  • Increased energy, focus, and mental clarity
  • More satisfying meals (since you’re usually eating fewer, larger meals)
  • Body fat loss
  • Weight loss
  • Improved biomarkers, like cholesterol and blood sugar levels  

Another benefit to consider is that intermittent fasting can be easier for those individuals who struggle at meal planning and prepping. Since you are eating fewer times per day, this schedule can simplify your day and the time spent cooking, shopping or preparing meals. Although you will still have to ensure you have adequate nutrition when eating your meals, fewer meals just equates to overall less time you have to dedicate to eating and preparing those meals. 

Although on the surface intermittent fasting may sound like a simple way to lose weight, there are many specifics to consider when determining if it’s right for you.  The first thing to consider is timing, Within Intermittent fasting, there are many different eating schedules you can follow.

Intermittent fasting timing schedules

Daily fasting

Daily fasting is the most common form of fasting for weight loss is daily intermittent fasting. This style of fasting breaks up each day into two windows: fasting and eating. During the fasting window, people may go without food for anywhere from 12 to 23 hours.

During the eating window, people will eat their daily allotted calories, typically distributed among 1-3 meals. One of the most common approaches to daily fasting is known as the 16:8, which involves a 16-hour fast, followed by an 8-hour eating window. For example, someone might eat their first meal at 12:00pm, stop eating by 8:00 pm, and fast overnight until noon the next day. A more extreme, but also common approach is the 20:4, where someone might eat their first meal of the day at 2:00 pm, for example, in which case they’d finish eating by 6:00 pm that day.

Alternate day fasting

Alternate-day intermittent fasting is another type of fasting where people eat every other day. With this approach, people typically go 24 to 36 hours without food (these are called fasting days), then eat up to two days worth of calories over the course of 12 to 24 hours. Although extreme, some people try to use this as a weight loss strategy. The fasting days and eating days may make it easier for followers to know when to eat their calories. 

The sheer volume of food that must be consumed to get adequate calories in this style of fasting can become challenging for followers of alternate-day fasting.

Multiple day fasting

Multiple day fasting is the most extreme type of fasting. On this schedule, people might choose to go several days without food. In general, this is only used in clinical settings to treat or manage certain medical conditions and is monitored closely by a medical team, meaning it’s never usually recommended for the average person looking to lose weight.

What to eat during Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting focuses more on the timing of food instead of the choices of food. Through a shorter time period of eating, calories can be reduced more easily and followers are able to continue eating the foods they enjoy, while losing weight. It could be said that fasting of any kind is a form of calorie restriction as no food is being consumed. On the flipside, unlike diets such as keto or Atkins, food choices are typically not restricted and followers can develop a balanced approach to food choices for their eating windows. 

To ensure success on any intermittent fasting plan, food choices should be balanced and overall calorie balance should be considered. If too many calories are consumed during the eating window, weight gain can still occur. Like any other plan, success or failure always comes back to balance.

Interested to see what a week of eating on intermittent fasting might look like? Check out the sample plan below.

Sample intermittent fasting meal guide

Monday

  • Midday: Pasta with spinach, chicken, and tomato sauce
  • 3pm: Avocado toast
  • By 8pm: Salad with chicken 

Tuesday

  • Midday: Salmon or tofu with sweet potatoes and asparagus
  • 3pm: Banana ice cream topped with chocolate chips
  • By 8pm: Potato soup and a side salad

Wednesday

  • Midday: Hard boiled eggs, pita, veggies, and hummus
  • 3pm: Apple slices with almond butter
  • By 8pm: Big green salad with chicken, avocado, almonds, and lemon dressing

Thursday 

  • Midday: Broccoli soup, bread, and a side salad
  • 3pm: Smoothie with banana, cashew butter, spinach, and almond milk
  • By 8pm: Vegetable and chicken or prawn stir fry

Friday 

  • Midday: Gnocchi with pesto and a side salad
  • 3pm: Dried mango and almonds
  • By 8pm: Chicken tacos 

Saturday 

  • Midday: Mixed veggies, chicken or tofu, and rice topped with soy sauce and sriracha
  • 3pm: Trail mix
  • By 8pm: Steak or tofu with steamed broccoli and roasted potatoes

Sunday 

  • Midday: Chickpea salad with lemon dressing and a green smoothie
  • 3pm: Dark chocolate
  • By 8pm: Spaghetti with meatballs or lentil sauce and a side salad

Is intermittent fasting healthy?

Intermittent fasting is likely safe when done under the supervision of a medical professional

Research also shows that intermittent fasting is likely a healthy weight loss strategy for most people, but there are important exceptions.

According to Noom Weight Coach, Kendra Gutschow, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, intermittent fasting isn’t appropriate if you: 

  • Have any history of eating disorders.
  • Have blood sugar instability.
  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Gutschow also stressed the importance of talking with your doctor before starting an intermittent fasting plan, especially if you take medications that are affected by foods.

Just like any diet, results from intermittent fasting vary and are not guaranteed. It’s important to remember that intermittent fasting has the same downside as every other diet: It only works as long as you can stick to it. Eventually, when you give up the diet, you’ll probably gain back the weight you lost – and lose whatever other benefits the diet offered.

Does Noom work with intermittent fasting?

If you’re currently on an intermittent fast or are considering starting one, you might be wondering if you can fit intermittent fasting into the Noom program.

The answer is yes, you can.

Noom complements many intermittent fasting programs. If you want to try out intermittent fasting or any eating style for that matter, we can gan give you the coaching, community support, and recipe ideas that make it possible. We’ll also help you explore whether this is a sustainable option for you.

Sign up for a 14-day trial to get your personalised weight loss plan today.