The practice of fasting for weight loss and health has been around for thousands of years. There are even different types of fasting in the Bible and in the religious texts of other religions.
But, what are the different types of fasting in general and intermittent fasting? What are the different types of spiritual fasting? What about the best type of fasting for weight loss?
In this article, we will provide a brief definition of what fasting entails, and then we will look at the different types of fasting, including types of intermittent fasting, types of fasting in the Bible, and different types of fasting for weight loss.
We will look at:
- What Is Fasting?
- What Are the Different Types of Fasting?
Let’s get started!
What Is Fasting?
Fasting refers to deliberately abstaining from consuming food and caloric beverages for an extended period of time.
There is a long list of benefits of fasting, including:
- Fat loss
- Reducing oxidative stress and chronic inflammation
- Decreasing LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and triglycerides levels
- Promoting autophagy (cell cleanup) and cellular health
- Boosting the secretion of human growth hormone (HGH)
- Improving blood sugar regulation
- Reducing the risk of disease, including cancer, heart failure, and neurodegenerative diseases
Everyone experiences at least several hours of fasting every day, termed the overnight fast, which occurs during sleep.
However, there are different types of fasting diets, such as different types of intermittent fasting and different intermittent fasting schedules, different types of spiritual fasting, and different types of fasting in the Bible that people practice for weight loss, health, or some sort of physical or spiritual “cleanse.“
Depending on your particular goals of fasting and your health status and nutritional needs, one type of fasting may be better or more appropriate for you than another.
There are certain contraindications to some of the different types of fasting, particularly in cases of extended fasts such as 24-hour water fasting (or more), for those who are pregnant or breast-feeding, have a history of an eating disorder, are underweight according to BMI, have diabetes or another metabolic condition, take certain medications, or have other chronic health conditions.
This is why it is important to speak with your doctor before trying some of the different types of intermittent fasting diets that involve prolonged periods of fasting or other types of spiritual fasting with multiple days of abstaining from eating.Moreover, if you are trying to find the best type of fasting for weight loss, again, you should consult your doctor or work with a registered dietitian nutritionist.
They will help you decide if one of the different types of intermittent fasting is best for you or if a more effective approach to weight loss would be a balanced, calorie-controlled diet with exercise.
What Are the Different Types of Fasting?
Although it would be difficult to make a comprehensive list of every type of fasting, we will try to cover some of the most common types of fasting practiced for weight loss, health, and/or spiritual reasons.
To discuss the different types of fasting, we will look at categories of fasting, including different types of intermittent fasting diets, different types of fasting in the Bible, other types of spiritual fasting, and other types of fasting for weight loss.
Types of Intermittent Fasting Diets
Intermittent fasting is one of the most popular types of fasting for weight loss and health.
Rather than being a specific type of fasting, intermittent fasting is a broad category of fasting such that there are all sorts of iterations and variations on intermittent fasting diet patterns.
Time-Restricted Intermittent Fasting
All of the time-restricted eating, or time-restricted feeding, types of intermittent fasting diets involve extending the period of overnight fasting and then limiting the window of time that you can consume caloric foods and beverages each day.
There are different intermittent fasting schedules that use this time-restricted fasting approach.
With any of these time-restricted feeding types of intermittent fasting, you have complete flexibility in terms of how you schedule your fasting and eating windows.
For example, with the 16/8 intermittent fasting diet, you have a 16-hour fast and an 8-hour eating window.
Thus, you might use something around the 10 AM to 6 PM, 11 AM to 7 PM, or noon to 8 PM range for your eating window.
However, it is entirely up to you and certainly doesn’t have to be done right on the hour, as long as you are sticking with the 16-hour fast and 8-hour eating blocks of time.
Let’s break down some of the most common intermittent fasting schedules:
12/12 Intermittent Fasting Diet
A beginner-friendly type of intermittent fasting diet is the 12/12 intermittent fasting schedule.
This entails splitting the 24-hour day into two equal parts: a 12-hour fast and a 12-hour eating window.
You might fast from 7:00 PM to 7:00 AM, 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM, or something similar.
14/10 Intermittent Fasting Diet
The next easiest type of intermittent fasting diet is 14/10 intermittent fasting, which involves a 14-hour fast and a 10-hour eating window.
16/8 Intermittent Fasting Diet
The 16/8 intermittent fasting diet schedule is probably the most popular type of intermittent fasting pattern.
It involves fasting for 16 hours per day with a permissible eating window that lasts eight hours.
This might look something like beginning your overnight fast after dinner at 6 PM and then fasting through the entire night until the next day at 10:00 AM, when you would break your fast with your first meal.
18/6 Intermittent Fasting Diet
18/6 intermittent fasting involves fasting for 18 hours per day and confining all of your eating to just six hours.
This is a doable progression for those who have tried 16/8 intermittent fasting and want to limit eating hours even more.
A common way to split this up is to fast from 6:00 PM to noon the next day or 7:00 PM to 1:00 PM.
20/4 Intermittent Fasting (Warrior Diet)
The 20/4 intermittent fasting diet is also called the “Warrior Diet,” and it involves a 20-hour fast and a four-hour eating window, which can be logistically, physically, and mentally challenging because it is very difficult to go up for 20 hours without eating.
With this type of intermittent fasting, people often begin the overnight fast at 6 PM and continue to fast all the way until 2 PM the next day or something similar.
Other Types of Intermittent Fasting Diets
Alternate Day Fasting
Alternate-day fasting, also called ADF fasting, for short, is an approach to intermittent fasting diets that uses a fasting schedule for the week as a whole scale rather than each individual day.
This type of intermittent fasting diet involves fasting every other day and then consuming what you want to eat, and when you want to eat it on the days you are not fasting.
Essentially, you do a full 24-hour water fast every other day and eat normally at liberty on alternate days.
5:2 Intermittent Fasting Diet
The 5:2 diet, also known as the Fast Diet, the 5&2 diet, or the 5/2 diet, is a specific dietary approach to an intermittent fasting diet.
This type of fasting diet is so named because it involves following your regular diet and caloric intake for five days of the week and then severely restricting calories (to 500–600 per day) the other two days of the week.
Along the lines of alternate-day fasting, the 5:2 diet involves restricting the total number of calories you eat during two days of the week. Like other types of intermittent fasting, how you consume these calories—your food choices—is not dictated by the diet.
OMAD is a type of fasting that entails eating only one meal a day.
This is essentially a 23-hour fast.
You might have your one meal a day every night at 5 PM and then fast all the way until the next day at 5 PM, or you have the flexibility to choose when you are going to eat your one meal a day on OMAD as long as you are only eating one meal on every calendar day.
Types of Fasting In the Bible
The Bible makes reference to many different types of fasting, and there is no clear answer as to the number of types of fasting in the Bible.
This is because different sources categorize Biblical fasts in different ways—either in broad sweeping categories of fasting in the Bible or as more specific examples.
Other Types of Fasting for Weight Loss
Prolonged Water Fasting
Aside from intermittent fasting, there are other types of fasting that are even more extreme and may be performed for weight loss, health, or spiritual reasons.
Water fasting is complete fasting in that you could only have water and non-caloric beverages, just as with the fasting windows during any type of intermittent fasting diet.
However, some people might perform an extended fast such as a 24-hour water fast, 48-hour water fast, or even a 5-day water fast or more.
Modified Fasting Diets
In addition to strict fasting, or water fasting, in which you abstain from consuming any foods or caloric beverages, there are also other types of fasting that are more lax.
Though these “modified types of fasting “ are not technically true fasting, they may still be grouped together under the umbrella of types of fasting and can still offer the health benefits of fasting with less hunger and fatigue.
Most of these modified fasting protocols can also be considered “cleanses“ or “extreme diets“ for rapid weight loss and are sometimes referred to as “dirty fasting” or “partial fasting.”
Essentially, the dieter will consume some amount of food or caloric beverage during the partial fast or dirty fasting diet.
Examples include the watermelon fasting diet, juice cleanses that focus primarily on beverages made with lemon juice, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup, drinking Bulletproof coffee (coffee with cream and MCT oil), or a liquid diet.
An example of this type of fast in the Bible can be seen in the Book of Daniel, where followers in captivity ate only fruit and vegetables and drank water for ten days to honor God.
“Please test your servants for ten days, and let us be given some vegetables to eat and water to drink.” (Daniel 1:12 NASB)
Overall, choosing the best type of fasting is a matter of considering the pros and cons of the type of fasting diet, your current health status, and your health and weight loss goals and needs.
Intermittent fasting diets with shorter fasts are easier logistically and physically and more similar to how people normally schedule their food intake but may not offer all of the potential benefits of fasting for longer durations.
For example, autophagy and significant increases in growth hormone can take close to 48 hours to really take effect, and even getting into ketosis generally takes 18-24 hours, depending on factors such as your body size, your diet composition, if you are an endurance-trained athlete, and if you have been performing exercise while fasting.
It is highly recommended that you speak with your healthcare provider before beginning any of these types of fasting, particularly more aggressive intermittent fasting diets or prolonged fasting.
If you are intrigued by the potential fasting benefits, you can read more about the benefits of fasting here.