The 2020 Intermittent Fasting Challenge
It’s a new year and a new decade. It’s the perfect time to upgrade your health. To create better health in 2020, I invite you to join our 2020 Intermittent Fasting Challenge.
I have been practicing some form of intermittent fasting since back in 2005 and over the years it has transformed my life for the better. In the beginning, I did it intuitively as there really wasn’t any education on the topic. Today, I do it strategically in order to optimize my energy, mental clarity, digestive health, strength and hormones.
In this article, you will learn about the benefits of intermittent fasting, the importance of feast famine cycling, and the top 7 intermittent fasting strategies. I will provide you some tips for your Intermittent Fasting Challenge and invite you to join our free Facebook Support Group.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is a fasting strategy that cycles between fasting and feasting (eating) over a period of time. It has many health benefits that can transform your life. Let’s look at the top health benefits that will get you excited and motivated to join our 2020 Intermittent Fasting Challenge.
Fasting Improves Immune Regulation
Fasting helps your body to put more energy and focus on the process of immune regulations. Fasting flushes out your digestive system, detoxifies your body, and reduces bad bacteria in your gut.
As a result, your body can put more energy into other areas, such as reducing the release of inflammatory cytokines and making your body stronger (1, 2, 3, 4). This is a great benefit you will experience during the fasting challenge.
Fasting Stimulates Cellular Autophagy
Autophagy is a process that’s part of your innate immune system. It allows your body to get rid of old and damaged cells, leaving room for new and healthy ones, restrict viral infections and the replication of cellular parasites, and protect your body from abnormal tissue cell growth and toxicity.
Intermittent fasting stimulates cellular autophagy and makes your body stronger and healthier (5). In particular, fasting helps your body regenerate healthier mitochondria which are the intracellular organelles that create energy.
This process of recycling old and damaged mitochondria for new and healthier versions is called mitophagy and it is one of the greatest discoveries in the anti-aging world. This is another great benefit of taking part in the fasting challenge!
Fasting Improves Genetic Repair Mechanisms
Your cells have a greater lifespan during times of food scarcity and famine. Instead of focusing on digestion, it can use energy for cellular rejuvenation. It increases Human Growth Hormone (HGH) in your body which improves tissue focus, fat burning, and overall functionality of muscles, tendons, ligament, and bones (6).
Fasting Improves Insulin Sensitivity
During times of food abundance or long-term feasting, your body desensitizes the cells to insulin to avoid the stress of too many calories. However, during scarcity or fasting, your cell membranes become more sensitive to insulin, which helps to reduce inflammation, HGH levels, tissue repair, and anti-aging (7, 8)
Intermittent Fasting and Chronic Disease
Intermittent fasting may help to reduce hyper-inflammatory processes, normalize immune function, and improve autoimmunity. It also improves the anaerobic metabolism of sugar, reduces inflammation, lowers free radical damage, fights cancer cells, and as a result prevent or improves chronic diseases (9, 10, 11).
If you want to learn more about the benefits of intermittent fasting, I recommend this article.
Feast Famine Cycling
Feast famine cycling is an ancient eating concept derived from our ancestral roots. Our ancestors ate or feasted when food was available and went through famine when it was not. While fasting mimics the benefits of the cycle of feast and famine that our ancestors experienced, we often put a focus on fasting and forget about feasting.
However, feasting is just as important. Feasting is the time when you replenish the lost calories and nourish your body with nutrient-dense foods. It is also the time when you can help your body to regulate cell growth and cleansing pathways, better inflammation and immune activity, boost lean body tissue development, create hormonal optimization, and enhance mental health and emotional well-being.
During your eating window, while feasting, focus on anti-inflammatory nutrient-dense foods and a ketogenic diet or a cyclical ketogenic diet to support autophagy, fat burning, and cellular rejuvenation (12). To learn more about feast famine cycling, I recommend this article and remember it is really important to feast as well as fast during the fasting challenge!
7 Types of Intermittent Fasting Strategies
One of the most exciting things about intermittent fasting is that there are a variety of strategies that you can try based on your experience with fasting, schedule, health, and personal goals. Check out the 7 main types of intermittent strategies to find what’s right for you to apply for the fasting challenge.
I recommend the Simple Fast to anyone who is new to intermittent fasting or intimidated by longer periods of fasting. It is the best and easiest for beginners and a perfect jumping point for longer or more complex intermittent fasting methods.
When you are on the Simple Fast, you are only fasting for 12 hours a day (this includes sleep!) and have a 12-hour eating window. Even though the fasting window is quite short in comparison to other intermittent fasting methods, the Simple Fast still allows you to experience the benefits of fasting. The Simple Fast open up your drainage pathways, allows cleansing of your bloodstream, reduces stress on your gut, and helps to burn fast.
How to do it: Sticking to a 12-hour fasting window is rather simple. If you finish dinner at 6 pm, you can eat again at 6 am. With a 7 pm dinner, you are ready for your first meal at 7 am. If your body takes this well, you may want to consider moving up to the cycle fast.
The Bruch fast is the only step up from the Simple Fast since you are only increasing your fasting window by 2 hours to a 14-hour fast. It is called a Brunch Fast because the fasting window is between dinner and breakfast. This fasting strategy is perfect for those who love a later breakfast or brunch. It may work well if you are working second shift.
How to do it: Practice the Brunch Fast between dinner and breakfast. If you eat dinner at 6 pm, you are ready to eat at 8 am, at a more convenient time. However, if you eat dinner at 7 pm, your breakfast moves to 9 am and so on. I don’t recommend a late dinner that is too close to bedtime. If you prefer to eat much later, moving onto a longer fasting window and trying the Cycle Fast, may be the best choice for you.
The Cycle Fast is just a small step up from the Simple Fast. It has a 16-hour fasting window instead of 12 hours. However, due to the longer fasting period, the Cycle Fast is only performed 3 times per week.
The benefit is that you don’t have to worry about a fasting schedule every single day, yet you will experience more autophagy and more benefits with a longer fasting window. It is a great jumping point for daily fasting strategies. While the Cycle Fast more planning than the Simple Fast, if you have been practicing the Simple Fast for a few weeks or months, it won’t be difficult.
How to do it: It may feel intimidating at first, but 16 hours of fasting is not that difficult if you consider the time you sleep. If you finish dinner at 6 pm, you can eat again at 10 am the next day. With a 7 pm dinner, you can at 11 am, and with a 5 pm dinner, you may eat at 9 am.
You may fast on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, or Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, or any other 3 days that feel convenient. As your body adjusts and you get more comfortable with fasting, you can try more advanced intermittent fasting strategies with longer or more varied fasting periods.
The Strong Fast is a step up from the cycle fast with a 16 to 18-hour fasting window practiced daily. If you finish dinner at 6 pm, you are ready for your eating window the next day by noon. The 16:8 strong fast is the one method that most people find the highest level of benefits in terms of health and performance.
How to Do It: If you finish dinner at 6 pm, you can eat again at between 10 am and 12 pm the next day, depending on if you are practicing a 16, 17, or 18-hour fasting window.
Warrior Fast and OMAD
The Warrior Fast is one of the most advanced intermittent fasting strategies. It has a 19 to 21-hour fasting window. The One Meal a Day Diet (OMAD) goes a step beyond as it involves 23 hours of fasting and only 1 hour of eating. While these intermittent fasting strategies provide very high fat-burning and ketosis benefits, it is for more advanced people only who have mastered daily 16-hour or 18-hour fasting and regular 24-hour fasting methods.
How to do it: For the Warrior Fast, if you eat dinner at 6 pm, you are ready for your next meal between 1 and 3 pm with a 3 to 5-hour window. If you are doing OMAD, if you finished your meal at 6 pm, you can eat at 5 pm the next day.
Remember, it is important to eat a very large meal during your eating window to meet your caloric and nutrient needs. You may learn about the Simple Fast, Brunch Fast, Cycle Fast, Strong Fast, and Warrior Fast from this article. You may learn more about OMAD here.
5:2 fasting is a popular fasting strategy. It is also considered a modified fast. When you are practicing 5:2 fasting, it means that 2 days out of the week, you limit your calorie intake to 500 calories or more. This is beneficial if you want to lose weight, burn fat, and find it helpful to focus on calories instead of just eating windows. This particular strategy has been found to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce body fat (13).
How to do it: Version 1: Pick 2 days out of the week separated by normal eating days and consume only 500 calories or less. The other days of the week you may eat normal or try another form of intermittent fasting strategy. The 2 fasting days should be non-consecutive days. This is a great strategy to apply during the fasting challenge.
Version 2: This is how I personally practice the 5:2 fasting strategy. I eat 2 meals per day in a 6 hour eating window (for me it is typically from 1pm – 7pm) for 5 days per week. On 2 days out of the week, I only eat one meal and do a full 22-24 hour fast without any calories depending upon when I stop eating and when I start the next day. The most common fasting days for me are Wednesday and Saturday. I usually eat lunch between 1-2pm on these days and fast until 1 or 2pm the following day.
Women have to be more careful with intermittent fasting as extremely sensitive to calorie restriction and restrictive diets. Restrictive diets and low-calorie intake may affect the hypothalamus and interfere with the secretion of gonadotropin-releasing hormones (GnRH). This may also disrupt the release of two reproductive hormones called the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and the luteinizing hormone (LH) and may result in irregular periods, amenorrhea, infertility, poor bone health, and reduction in ovary size.
Crescendo fasting helps women to receive the benefits of intermittent fasting, including fat burning, autophagy, reduction in inflammation, and more energy, without disrupting their hormones. Crescendo fasting is a strategic mixing of different fasting windows (14, 15 16, 17, 18).
How to do it: When you are doing Crescendo Fasting, you are not fasting every day, only on 2 or 3 non-consecutive days per week. I recommend starting with 2 days per week. You can pick any non-consecutive days, for example, Tuesday and Friday or Monday and Thursday. On fasting days, apply the 16:8 rule fasting for 16 hours keeping an 8-hour eating window. If you have dinner at 6 pm, you may drink again at 10 am. You may learn more about Crescendo Fasting in this article.
Intermittent Fasting Challenge
It’s time to level up your health and start intermittent fasting in the new year. Join or 2020 Intermittent Fasting Challenge.
Pick a Daily Fasting Strategy to Apply
Understanding the 7 different intermittent fasting methods, you can decide what’s right for you. Remember, if you are a newbie, the Simple Fast is a good stepping stone. Women may want to try Crescendo Fasting. Intermediate fasters may want to try the Brunch, Cycle, or 5:2 Fast, while advanced fasters may try the Warrior Fast or OMAD.
Join Our Fasting Transformation
Making a lifestyle or dietary change may be difficult alone. You may have questions, need support, or simply want to talk to like-minded individuals on a similar journey. I recommend that you join our free Facebook Support Group. My team and I are there to support your journey along the way, not to mention our amazing community members who are full of wisdom and inspiring success stories. The community support will help you stay on target during the fasting challenge!
Consider Doing a 24 Hour Fast Each Week
Doing a 24-hour fast once a week is something I personally practice and recommend to most people. A 24-hour fast is a form of fasting that is only performed once a week. Since you can choose the best fasting day for you, it is incredibly convenient. However, it is important to build up your fasting muscle before you try a 24-hour fast. Make sure that you can tolerate a daily 16-hour fast before fasting for 24 hours.
How to do it: You can pick the day that works your schedule the best. Combine daily intermittent fasting with cyclic ketogenic diet throughout the week then fast for 24 hours once a week. Stop eating after dinner on one day and don’t eat until dinner the next day, 24 hours later. This way you don’t have to go without a meal for an entire day.
Consider Doing a 3 or 5 Day Fast
Extended fasting for 3-5 days can be a powerful way to reset your system. These longer fasts ramp up autophagy and self-healing at a higher level. You can do this with a partial fasting strategy such as a bone broth fast, green juice fast or the fasting mimicking diet. You can learn more about partial fasting here.
You may also be interested in doing a 3 day water fast or a 5 day water fast. These are both really great strategies for resetting your hormones, boosting advanced fat burning and autophagy and stimulating the production of stem cells which improve your immune system, joint, tissue and organ health.
If you want to experience the incredible benefits of intermittent fasting, join our 2020 Intermittent Fasting Challenge. I believe this may be one of the best health decisions you can make!
Choose your intermittent fasting strategy based on your fasting experience, health, and goals, and get ready to transform your health, shed some unwanted pounds, regain your energy, heighten your emotional well-being, and level up your life.
If you want a detailed step by step plan on how to implement intermittent or extended fasting, I would recommend my Fasting Transformation Program here