There’s a lot of talk about intermittent fasting (IF) these days — and a lot of debate about its efficacy for women versus men — so today we want to break down what it is, the different versions of fasting, and what counts as breaking your fast.

What is intermittent fasting?

Simply put, intermittent fasting is not eating for an extended period of time, even as little as 12 hours.

When we’re working with clients, we like to start with the 12-hour rule. So, if you finish Dinner at 8:00 PM, don’t break your fast (get it, break-fast) until after 8:00 AM the next morning. We may work up or down from there, nothing is one-size-fits-all, but you shouldn’t jump straight into the deep end with IF. Not only because it’s mentally more difficult but because radical changes in eating schedules can mess with your health.

What are the different kinds of intermittent fasting?

  • The 12-hour rule we mentioned above.
  • 16/8 is common, where you eat during an 8-hour period of the day and fast for 16 hours.
  • Alternate-day fasting is one of the most extreme forms of IF, which involves strict 36-hour periods without eating alternating with 12-hour “feast days.”
  • OMAD, or One Meal a Day, which is pretty self-explanatory.

What counts as breaking your fast?

Everyone may not love this answer: if your main reason for fasting to stimulate autophagy, or to repair your body, then anything that’s not water is breaking your fast.

But, having a little black coffee or tea is probably not going to seriously impact your IF results, even though you’re technically taking in a few calories.

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