4 Different Ways to Start Intermittent Fasting

Have you ever tried not eating for a period of time?

Maybe you’ve been running late and had to run out of the house without breakfast or been so busy you’ve forgotten about lunch.

Maybe you’ve purposely not eaten during the day because you knew you had a big meal in the evening.

If so then you’ve been doing something called intermittent fasting without knowing it.

Intermittent fasting refers to an eating pattern characterised by periods of eating and fasting.

It doesn’t always put restraints on the foods you can eat but instead dictates when you should eat them.

This article will explore 4 of the most popular fasting protocols.

Let's begin.

What Are the Different Ways to do Intermittent Fasting?

There are various different applications of intermittent fasting that differ in the way they split the day or week into periods of eating and fasting.


The 16:8 Protocol

Popularised by Martin Berkhan and more recently Greg O’Gallagher this is arguably one of the most popular setups which see you split each day into a 16-hour fasting period and an 8-hour eating period.

It’s commonly set up with the fasting window starting late evening after dinner (8-9pm) lasting until around midday (12-13pm) to complete the full 16 hours with the bulk of the time spent asleep.

During the 8-hour eating window, your meal structure is up to you. A lot of people opt for either a small snack and 2 large meals or just 2 meals depending on calorie allowance.

However, the fasting and eating windows can be set up in whichever best suits the individual using the protocol, if you prefer to eat breakfast and skip dinner then that can also work.

If you’re training during the fast then get yourself some BCAAs to sip before/during the workout to help prevent muscle breakdown.

16-8 Fasting Setup.png


  • Eating can be structured to one’s preference within the eating window

  • A large chunk of the fasting is done whilst asleep

  • Fasting and eating schedule is more lifestyle friendly


  • May be difficult for breakfast eaters

For more information on Martin Berkhan’s 16:8 setup, click here.


The 5:2 Setup

Another popular set up is the 5:2 diet created by Dr Michael Moseley, which sees you fast for two 24-hour periods per week. During the non-fasting days you’re advise to ‘eat normally’ and during the 24-hour fasts men are instructed to eat 600 calories and women 500 calories.

The 5:2 diet places no restrictions on when you do the 24-hour fasts or whether or not they are carried out back to back.

5-2 Fasting Setup.png


  • Allows small meals on fasting days which can make the fast more bearable for some

  • No restrictions on when the fasts are carried out

  • Participants are advised to ‘eat normally’ which places no restrictions on their diet

  • A large chunk of the fasting is done whilst asleep


  • Some people may find it difficult to fast for full 24-hour periods

  • Lacks structure for those who need/want more guidance than ‘eat normally’

For more information on the 5:2 diet, click here.

Personally, I don’t like this incarnation of intermittent fasting as I feel an unstructured eating window i.e. ‘eat normally’ is ineffective for proper weight control particularly when it comes to fitness and body composition. Additionally, 24-hour fasts can be very tough mentally, not to mention the effect and strain it can put on your social life.


Eat Stop Eat

Created by Brad Pilon it works very similarly to the 5:2 diet and by incorporating one or two 24-hour fasts into your week. During the 24 hour fast no food can be consumed but calorie-free drinks are ok.

Eat stop eat is flexible with no foods being off limits, no calorie counting or food weighing being prescribed and no restrictions set in place. Although you are advised to eat mindfully and not treat your non-fasting days as a free for all.

Eat Stop Eat Fasting Setup.png


  • More guidance is given for non-fasting days with recommendations to eat mindfully

  • A large chunk of the fasting is done whilst asleep


  • Some people may find it difficult to fast for full 24-hour periods

  • No food can be eaten during the 24-hour fast

  • May lack nutritional guidance for some people with recommendations only to ‘eat mindfully’

For more information on Eat Stop Eat, click here.


The Warrior Diet

Created by Ori Hofmekler this fasting protocol has you fasting for 20 hours every day and eating one large meal each evening. During the fast you’re allowed to eat a few small portions of raw vegetables or fruits, fresh juice or some protein.

During the four hour eating window Ori Hofmekler advises you to eat your food in a particular order starting with vegetables, followed by protein, with fat coming last. It’s only once you’ve eaten these food groups in this order that you can think about having some carbohydrates and that’s only if you’re still hungry.

Warrior Diet Fasting Setup.png


  • A large chunk of the fasting is done whilst asleep

  • You can eat a few small snacks during the fasting window, which can make the fast easier


  • Has an extended fasting window that will most likely impact lifestyle

  • Food has to be consumed in a particular order

For more information on The Warrior Diet, click here.


Takeaway Point

There is no right or wrong way to use intermittent fasting.

In the end, it comes down to what works best for your lifestyle and your goals, along with what is easiest for you to stick to consistently.

The 4 main ways of doing intermittent fasting are;

  • The 16:8 Setup

  • The 5:2 Diet

  • Eat Stop Eat

  • The Warrior Diet

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