As you begin doing more research about intermittent fasting, you will notice many
different protocols people try. These include LeanGains (18-16), the 24-hour protocol,
and the Warrior protocol. Another you might want to try is called 5:2, which has you
eating what you want 5 days out of the week, then fasting the other 2 days. Take a look
at what this type of intermittent fasting protocol entails.
What is the 5:2 Protocol?
First of all, here is how the 5:2 intermittent fasting protocol works. You want to eat what
you normally would for 5 days out of the week, then fast for 2 days out of the week. This
is very similar to the Eat-Stop-Diet, except with that diet, many people only fast for 24
hours, and there are often more rules for the fasted days. With the 5:2 protocol, you are
told to eat a small amount on the two fasted days, often 500-600 calories for the day.
You do not want the 2 days to be in a row either; have at least one normal eating day in
The Eating Days
One thing you want to keep in mind when doing the 5:2 intermittent fasting diet, like
most IF protocols, is that during your eating windows, don’t worry too much about what
you eat. It shouldn’t turn into a binge eating session, but instead you should just eat like
you normally would. If you are on a special diet like keto or Paleo, then you should still
stick to that on the eating days. Otherwise, just have average days of eating 5 days out
of the week. Intermittent fasting is meant to simplify everything for you, so don’t worry
about counting calories on the eating days unless you are following a low-calorie diet.
The Fasting Days
When it is time to fast, make sure the two days are not consecutive. You should not be
fasting for more than 24 hours at a time. On these days, they are a little different than
other fasting days, since you aren’t having zero calories. For women, you can have up
to 500 calories, or up to 600 calories for men. This is still very low, but allows you to
have a small amount of nutrients to fuel your body, from broth to fruit or veggies. Make
those calories count with the most nutrient-dense foods you can find.
Side Effects of Intermittent Fasting
While intermittent fasting can be a great tool to help you lose weight, control your
eating, and learn healthier patterns with food and workouts, there are some side effects to consider. Intermittent fasting won’t work for everyone, just like any other healthy eating method you try. Here are some potential side effects to keep in mind.
Becoming Too Full for Eating
One of the potential drawbacks to intermittent fasting has to do with the shorter eating
window. You might be used to spreading your meals out a bit, eating smaller meals but
more often throughout the day. With intermittent fasting, you eat more at a time, and in
a shorter phase during the day. What might happen is that you become too full after
these bigger meals, to where you feel uncomfortable. The trick here is to eat as many
nutrient-dense foods as you can, so that you are getting adequate nutrition without
Constantly Thinking About the Eating/Fasting Windows
Intermittent fasting should be a simpler way to eat healthy and train your body when you
are hungry and not hungry. It is not meant to become an obsession, which is the
problem with many restricting diets out there. You should develop a healthy relationship
with food, understanding it is only meant to fuel your body, not to become a hobby or
something to help with your emotional health. Therefore, when you first start IF, you
might find that you are constantly staring at the clock and counting down the minutes
until you can eat again. Try to set timers or eat at the same time each day so that you
aren’t obsessing about it quite so much.
Reduced Athletic Ability
When you are fasting, you may notice that you have reduced athletic performance. It is
okay to do fasted workouts, but they should not be high intensity. If you do high-intensity
cardio, HIIT, or Cross Fit, you might want to do your workouts during your eating
periods. Otherwise, moderate activity should be fine while you are fasting.
Hormonal Changes in Women
One of the main side effects for women is having hormonal changes or hormonal
imbalances. You should pay attention to your body, and if you notice things like irregular
periods, cramping, or bleeding, stop intermittent fasting and talk to your doctor. It is
possible you just need a new protocol or that you were not following the IF protocol