4 Intermittent Fasting Schedules & What You Need to Know

Wellness: Nutrition
4 Intermittent Fasting Schedules & What You Need to Know

Primary Media


May 25 2020


Intermittent fasting (IF) is a trending diet that involves eating during a specific time frame, then fasting for another period. It is purported to help people lose weight, but it may also help lower cholesterol, improve blood pressure and aid glucose control.

According to Hy-Vee Registered Dietitian Elisa Sloss, there are many things to consider before trying this diet: First, results are better if you consume nutritious food and exercise, which also encourages people to pay attention to when they eat and what they eat. Second, this diet is not recommended for everyone as it can amplify disordered eating patterns. It's also not recommended for children, those who are underweight, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and anyone with type 1 diabetes. It's important to check with your doctor before starting this regimen.

As far as what time period to fast, there are several options. The time period you choose depends on your lifestyle and family commitments. It's easier for most people to start with a 12:12 diet because most of the fasting occurs during sleep. Here are a few options to consider.

For more information, talk to your local Hy-Vee registered dietitian.

  1. 12:12 Diet

    Method: Time-restricted eating; 12 hours of fasting; 12 hours of eating.
    Example: Eat from 7am to 7pm, fast the remaining time.
    Diet: Good for beginners because it allows for three meals a day. Be sure to include nutrition foods if weight loss is a goal.
    Try if: You don't want to give up breakfast but you do want to cut down on dessert.

    Related Content, Breakfast
    Hyvee Dietitian Expert Tip
    If following an intermittent fasting diet, it's important to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water and calorie-free beverages such as tea and coffee.
    Hy-Vee Dietitians
  2. 16:8 Diet

    Method: Time-restricted eating; 16 hours of fasting; 8 hours of eating.
    Example: Eat from noon to 8pm, then fast, skipping breakfast in the morning.
    Diet: Medium difficulty because half the fasting period occurs during sleep. An easier variation, the 14:10 diet, allows for 8am to 6pm eating.
    Try if: You tend to skip breakfast anyway.

  3. 20:4 Diet

    Method: Time-restricted eating; 20 hours of fasting; 4 hours of eating.
    Example: Eat two meals between 2pm and 6pm; fast remaining time.
    Diet: People can eat as much as they wish, but the short time frame tends to set boundaries.
    Try if: You are busy during the day and don't have time to eat or if you don't often feel hungry throughout the day.

  4. 5:2 Diet

    Method: A partial fast; 5 days normal eating; 2 (nonconsecutive) days restricted calories.
    Example: Fast on Monday and Thursdays only.
    Diet: On fasting days, consume only 25% of daily calorie needs (about 400 calories for women; 500 for men).
    Try if: You have a busy family life or social commitments that hamper a daily fasting routine.

    Hyvee Dietitian Expert Tip
    If following a calorie-restricted 5:2 diet, select filling foods that are naturally low in calories, such as unbuttered popcorn, and high in fiber, such as raw vegetables.
    Hy-Vee Dietitians