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The Best Pattern of Intermittent Fasting

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 08/31/2023

You know intermittent fasting supports your health, right?

Though some people dismiss it as a new fad, the truth is that fasting has been practiced for thousands of years.

Some people fast for religious or spiritual purposes. The best-known example is people of Muslim faith who fast from sunup to sundown during the holy month of Ramadan; they're on time-restricted eating, and spend the day in a fasted state.

Others fast as a means of non-violent protest; going on a hunger fast is a time-honored tradition.

And still others fast for health reasons: to normalize their Fat Storing Hormone levels, reduce their risk of heart attacks; perhaps even reverse Type 2 diabetes. This is what I’ll address in this article.

First, a little bit about what fasting is - and isn’t.

In this Article: -

  1. A Definition Of Fasting
  2. Setting The Fasting Record Straight
  3. How To Transition To Intermittent Fasting
  4. Why And When To Fast
  5. How To Transition Into Fasting
  6. Try This Along With Intermittent Fasting
  7. Now That You Know The Truth About Intermittent Fasting

A Definition Of Fasting

Fasting isn’t a diet. It's not some weird thing where you have to cut calories or eat one food all day every day.

Neither is it starving yourself on purpose.

Rather, it’s a pattern of deliberately not eating for a specific period of time, followed by eating for a specific period of time. Think of it as alternating fasting and feasting, similar to what our ancestors did in a time of food uncertainty. Some people call it Eat-Stop-Eat.

With an endless abundance of food all around us, you may wonder why on earth you would choose to not eat.

The answer is that fasting has significant health benefits.

And if you think about it from an evolutionary perspective, it makes sense. If our ancestors weren’t able to survive and thrive during periods of food scarcity by fasting, we humans would have died out a long time ago. None of them could pop into the Sabertooth Supermarket to pick up dinner at will.

So, fasting in a sense is going back to your evolutionary health roots. Fasting won’t impair your health, although as you transition into it you may not feel great. But that’s due to your habitual eating patterns and not attributable to fasting itself.


Setting The Fasting Record Straight

In order to adapt to fasting as easily and painlessly as possible, I recommend that you ease into it and give your body time to adapt.

Yet if you’ve already researched fasting, you’ve likely come across an overwhelming amount of information that’s done more to confuse you than enlighten you.

How often should you fast? When should you eat and not eat? What happens if you feel awful when you fast?

Let me set the record straight. This is a lot of information, but bear with me. You'll be glad you did.


How To Transition To Intermittent Fasting

an illustration of 16:8 fasting pattern against a drawing of a plate

There are many patterns and choices.

You can fast daily. Within that daily pattern you can, for example, have an 8-hour window of eating and a 16-hour window of fasting, known as 16:8.

Or an 18-hour window of fasting and a 6-hour window of eating, called 18:6.

And another choice you have is a 20-hour fasting window and a 4-hour eating window, known as 20:4.

A different pattern is alternate-day fasting. Perhaps you fast on a weekend, or practice time-restricted feeding once or twice a week. You might be choosing a prolonged fast of 24 hours or more.

But here’s the problem with these options:

I’ve heard from a number of people who are fasting every other day, or once or twice a week. They nearly all suffer from severe hunger, brain fog, and sleep problems.

This is because they haven’t given their body a chance to adapt to going without food for longer periods than they’re accustomed to.

Here’s how to fix this.

Stay consistent. There’s simply no reason not to fast on some kind of regular basis; in other words, every day.

With me so far?

Now let’s dive into some specific reasons you will want to fast, and a particular pattern you can choose to do on a daily basis.


Why And When To Fast

There are many benefits to fasting. Primary goals for you would be to:

  • Heal Fat Storing Hormone resistance, a pre-diabetic condition in which your cells have become resistant to absorbing the Fat Storing Hormone they need for energy, yet your pancreas continues to produce more Fat Storing Hormone until it reaches toxic levels and damages your health
  • Lower Fat Storing Hormone levels to levels that support your health rather than impair it
  • Normalize your cholesterol
  • Reduce the risk of heart attack
  • Help your body reset to healthy functioning

Picture of an open hand with the words Stop Diabetes on it

You’ll notice that I didn’t put weight loss on this list. Yes, you’ll lose weight with intermittent fasting, and that’s excellent. However, my mantra is:

Get healthy to lose weight, not lose weight to get healthy.

Thus, you’ll notice I’m emphasizing health and healing and prioritizing it overweight loss.

There’s No One Size Fits All Fasting Pattern

You may encounter someone who insists there’s only one correct fasting pattern that everyone should do. But that’s untrue.

There’s no one right fasting pattern for everyone. Choose it based on your own body; your own physiology.

I describe three choices below, along with the reasons why you would choose a particular one. Then in a little bit, I’ll tell you how to transition into fasting.

Ready? Let’s dive in.

If your metabolism is fast, and you’re younger, my recommendation is 16 hours of fasting and an 8-hour eating window, called the 16:8 pattern.

Generally, the older you are, the slower your metabolism; thus, the longer you’ll want to fast and support your metabolism to speed up. You'll want to work up to 20 hours of fasting with a 4-hour eating window, called the 20:4 pattern.

Eventually, you’ll want to transition to one meal a day, called OMAD. This is best for someone in their 50’s or older.

When you choose OMAD as your goal, you'll be consistently fasting, your body will have adapted as you follow my recommendation for easing into fasting, and you’re giving your body a chance to keep your Fat Storing Hormone levels low. Your body has a chance to heal over a period of time.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to transition gradually into fasting.


How To Transition Into Fasting

Here’s how you can ease into fasting with the least possible distress, which is usually severe hunger, brain fog, and fatigue.

Start with three meals per day and eliminate all snacks. This is often the most difficult part for people - because we love our snacking!

Once you’re comfortable with three meals a day without snacking in between, push your breakfast later and later, until eventually you eliminate it all together and eat lunch as your first meal of the day.

illustration of a plate fork and knife with the words Not Hungry on the plate

Here’s how that could work:

Let’s say you eat twice a day, at 12 pm and 8 pm, giving you 16 hours of fasting and an 8-hour eating window, otherwise known as 16:8. You can see that a large part of the 16 hours of fasting is done overnight while you sleep. This is good!

Next, when you’ve adapted well to 16:8, lengthen your fasting window and shorten your eating window. For example, eat at 1pm and 7pm, giving you 18 hours of fasting and a 6 hour eating window, otherwise known as 18:6. Once again, a lot of your fasting hours are done overnight while you sleep.

Once you feel comfortable and have adapted to this pattern, you’re ready to move to 20:4.

Yes, you guessed it, once again you lengthen your fasting window and shorten your eating window. For instance, you could eat at 2 pm and 6 pm to give you 4 hours of eating and 20 hours of fasting.

At each stage along the way, see how you feel. If you’re severely hungry, have a foggy brain, or sleep badly, ease off. Go back to the previous fasting stage and continue with it for awhile, then retry the stage you did before.

That is, if you move to 18:6 and feel terrible, go back to 16:8 for a while. Then try 18:6 again.

Fasting really is simple. At most, you need to structure your day to ensure you’re sticking within the time parameters. It may feel odd at first, but soon it will become second nature.


Try This Along With Intermittent Fasting

I encourage you to pair intermittent fasting with the low-carb, high-fat keto diet. Not only will the increased amount of fat keep you fuller for longer between meals, when you lower your carbohydrate intake you'll be reinforcing the lowered Fat Storing Hormone levels which fasting also supports.

Although dietary fat has been demonized for decades as a cause of clogged arteries, heart attacks, and stroke, that is untrue. I have many videos explaining why healthy fats are, well, healthy! You can check out this one or this one for starters.

Fasting truly is easier to transition to when you are on a Healthy KetoTM diet.


Now That You Know The Truth About Intermittent Fasting…

I know that there’s a ton of confusing and downright misleading information about fasting out there.

You may have started your own research but given up, your head swimming, feeling confused and annoyed. Why can’t they just be straightforward?

That’s why I’m so pleased to be able to give you straight talk about intermittent fasting, so you can easily understand the whys and wherefores, and get started on your fasting journey.

There’s no need to keep wading through reams of articles trying to make sense of it all.

Just follow the instructions I’ve given you. And if you want more information, or are hesitant to try fasting by yourself, you can sign up for my free mini-course for support.

I’m here for you, and I’d love to see you join my community.

And I’m wishing you lots of fasting success.

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Disclaimer: Our educational content is not meant or intended for medical advice or treatment.

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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