Which intermittent fasting protocol is best? 16:8, 20:4, or 5:2?03 Aug 2016
The question of best fasting protocol seems to come up a lot.
The larger sphere of intermittent fasting can be split up into a wide range of methods.
A 16 hour fast with an 8 hour eating "window" (16:8).
A "warrior style" 20 hour fast with a 4 hour window.
A set of 5 normal days and two completely fasted (or heavily reduced) days (5:2).
Alternate day fasting
Is one better than the other?
The answer is....No!
The best protocol is the one that you can stick with the easiest.
If you are trying to lose weight (or perhaps just maintain you current weight), the fundamental calories-in vs. calories-out framework still reigns supreme. Intermittent fasting is just tool to make it easier.
Rather than eating a reduced amount of food by shrinking all your meals (and thereby feeling like your dieting) you utilize the fasting periods to create an easier caloric deficit.
Now, for me, 5:2 would be more challenging. 24-hour fasts are no joke. I'm sure I'd get used to it, but I can see plenty of sour days in the process. You can also do 5:2 by simply eating less on the two "fast" days, but that sounds more like a way to ease in to daily intermittent fasting.
I do 16:8, but it's really more like 15-20:9-4. The day to day fasts have become super flexible and freeing. I have a nice large first meal and a smaller meal before bed. If I'm planning to eat out with friends, I can push the fast all the way until then and eat without going over my deficit.
Try both and let me know what works best for you.