Intermittent Fasting

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Posted by Linda O'Byrne (Atkins Nutritionist)

Intermittent fasting (IF) means periods of eating and fasting. There are several methods that you can adopt.

Contents of this article

  • What is intermittent fasting?
  • Intermittent fasting schedule
  • Lose weight with intermittent fasting
  • Is intermittent fasting suitable for everyone?
  • Intermittent fasting experiences
  • Benefits of intermittent fasting
  • Intermittent fasting and Atkins

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What is intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting (IF) means periods of eating and fasting. There are several methods that you can adopt. During the fasting period, you can't eat anything, but you have water, tea and coffee.

Intermittent fasting schedule

There are various forms of intermittent fasting. You can have an intermittent fasting day, which means that you have a time frame for a few hours and do not eat. This can be fasting for a full day each week. We explain the various forms of intermittent fasting below:

Basic schedule

This schedule is easy to start with when you never tried fasting before. Below an example of a basic schedule:

7:30 to 8:30 pm Meal 1

8:30 to 12:30 pm Fasting

12:30 to 13:30 hours Meal 2

1:30 p.m. to 18:00 pm Fasting

6pm-7pm Meal 3

7pm-7am fasting and sleeping


13:11 schedule

In this scheme you fast for 13 hours and you can eat for the rest of the time. This schedule is easy to follow as, basically, after dinner you don't eat again until the next day.


14:10 schedule

On this intermittent fasting schedule you go one step further. Eat breakfast a bit later, around 9am or 10am. This means you're fasting for a little longer (14 hours) that gives your body more energy.


16: 8 schedule

Intermittent fasting 16: 8 is the most common form of intermittent fasting. You eat for 8 hours a day and the rest of the day you fast (16 hours). You can decide the fasting period. You can, for example, fastibetween 10:00 am and 18:00 pm. Other people eat their first meal at 4pm. However, most people choose to skip breakfast too. This is our intermittent fasting 16: 8 out schedule:

7:00 to 12:00 hours Fasting

7.00 Rise

7.30 Glass of water and cup of tea or coffee

8.00 Skip breakfast

12pm-1pm Meal 1

3pm snack

6pm-7pm Meal 2

20.00 Overnight fasting

23:00 to 7:00 hours Sleeping and fasting


20: Scheme 4

This intermittent fasting schedule is very intense and is therefore difficult to sustain in the long term. You eat only four hours a day. This is usually between 3pm and 7pm. This schedule allows you to follow for just a few days a week, every day is too hard to maintain for most people.


OMAD schedule

This intermittent fasting schedule is for one meal a day. You fast for 23 hrs and eat for 1 hr a day. The easiest way to do this is to have an evening meal. As with the 20: 4 schedule, it is very difficult to maintain. However, you have the occasional day off the schedule.


36-hour fasting

On this schedule, you eat on day 1 (around 7pm - evening meal), on day two you eat nothing, and on day three you start again at 7:00 am with breakfast. So you go 36 hours fasting. On day two, hunger will disappear.


5: 2 schedule

This is called super fast. In this case you establish a very strict two days a week and the other five days are more flexible. For some people this is a hard to follow especially on the two fasting days. On the five remaining days, eat healthy food, but no need to keep to regular mealtimes. Be less active on fasting days.This is how an intermittent fasting 5: 2 schedule might look like:

8pm to 11pm Fasting

11pm- 7am sleeping and fasting

8am-4pm fasting

4pm - 8pm meal 1 and meal 2

8pm - 7am fasting until the next day


This method speaks for itself, you eat every day and not during the day. You'll see fast results for weight loss. This is a method that can work well for a number of days. Then you can go with a less extreme version so the weight stays off.

For all schedules, avoid alcohol and you'll see the best results.

Lose weight with intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting can help you lose weight. Whether it's a plan for a few hours or an occasional day, fasting gives your body rest to digest the nutrients without having another meal too soon. Your body will need more rest in the fasting periods. Your body looks for other sources of energey and will start to convert fat into energy. This process is also called ketosis. Whether you go into ketosis it depends on what you eat. If you eat lots of sugars and carbohydrates the body will burn these, instead of fat. With intermittent fasting its best to eating satiating food so you don't experience hunger and to achieve fat burning.

The following illustration shows the difference between a day in which you fast for 16 hours and a normal day.

By eating fewer carbohydrates and sugar, you stabilise insulin levels. This has a positive impact on the prevention of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Read this article about our favourite low carb foods.

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Is intermittent fasting suitable for everyone?

In principle, it is possible for anyone to begin intermittent fasting. Our body can go a long time without food. However, there are some groups that would be better to avoid intermittent fasting, namely:

  • Pregnant women or women who are breastfeeding
  • People who have an eating disorder or have recovered from an eating disorder
  • People who have a high stress lifestyle
  • Older people who would be better to follow a low calorie diet

Intermittent fasting benefits

There are many benefits to intermittent fasting. In essence your body becomes stronger. Below are the other advantages:

Intermittent fasting increases fat burning
Because you eat less for longer you lose weight, and fat, with intermittent fasting. This is why it's important to choose wisely what you eat. By eating less carbohydrates, and maximizing raw food, you get less glucose in your body and fat is quickly burned.

In addition, intermittent fasting improves certain hormone functions. You have lower insulin levels, hormone levels stabilise and your body produces less noradrenaline. These all contribute to the breakdown of body fat and you lose weight faster.

good cholesterol
Fasting can also have a positive effect on your cholesterol levels. Several studies demonstrate that intermittent fasting takes care of improvement between the ratio of LDL (bad) cholesterol and HDL (good cholesterol).

Improves heart function
Multiple intermittent fasting scientific studies show that it has a positive effect on your heart-and blood vessels.

More endurance and faster recovery
Because growth hormone increases with intermittent fasting this will also result in an increase in endurance and faster recovery of your muscles after an intense workout.

Intermittent Fasting Benefits

Intermittent fasting experiences

Many people experience mostly positive effects. More energy, less medication, have more time for other things, better sleep and many also feel a lot stronger.

The intermittent fasting experience by dietitian Erica

"Some people do it without them being aware of it whether it's for a few hours of the day or certain days of the week. It can have advantages such as feeling more energetic, weight will fall off easily and stay off.

Intermittent fasting is becoming increasingly popular. I'll explain how it works and, together with the client, we decide if it fits with their lifestyle. If it's doesnt, fit, that's fine as there are other ways to lose weight.

Often I explain why eating six times a day is not necessarily required. Eat breakfast, we are taught that this is the most important meal of the day however a later meal is still considered breakfast if that's your first meal. As the term suggests 'breakfast' literally means breaking the fast.

I therefore suggest not setting a clock but going by the way we feel. For me, I pretty much always skip breakfast. My first meal is between 12pm- 2.30pm. Surely it would be illogical to eat something just because 'I must'. The lunch I eat is usually a salad, a stuffed omelet or leftovers from the night before.

Intermittent fasting is quickly becoming trendy, which is unfortunate as skipping meals is not trendy. IF should be a more conscious way of eating in order to contribute to the prevention of the pandemic of obesity and diabetes."

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Starting with intermittent fasting

When you have selected one of the above schedules, you can start applying intermittent fasting. It is advisable to choose a schedule that suits you and your daily routine and based on your own goals.

Try to give it at least two weeks to experience the positive effects. After this period, you will find that you lose kilos which gives you the motivation to carry on.

Depending on your current lifestyle, intermittent fasting, especially in the beginning, can havae quite a big impact on your body. Would you like to tackle it step by step? Then you see a guideline below:

  • Week 1: Stop eating sugars and refined carbohydrates. This may decrease your blood sugar and stabilise your insulin levels


  • Week 3 + 4 + 5: go to three meals a day without snacking. If this fails, go for no more than one snack.


  • Week 6 or later, go from 3 to 2 meal times a day. Only do this if it feels good and try to follow this pattern every day or you may find that once a week is enough. Try it and see what suits you.

Intermittent Fasting and Atkins

Intermittent fasting can be combined well with the Atkins diet. This can be especially true if you find that your weight loss stalls then intermittent fasting can kickstart it. Eating fewer carbohydrates will keep blood sugar in check and eating plenty of protein and fat on Atkins keeps you feeling fuller for longer and you can just try intermittent fasting occasionally.