Alternate Day Fasting vs. Classic Intermittent Fasting, Which Is Better?

Intermittent fasting takes on many forms. One of the most common protocols is the 16:8 protocol popularized by fitness guru Martin Berkhan

On this protocol, you fast for 16 hours and have an eight-hour eating window. Beginners who follow this method of fasting usually have great results.

The benefits of 16:8 include:

  • Reduction of meal planning which can lessen anxiety around food
  • The ability to burn fat while maintaining lean muscle mass
  • Steady weight loss
  • The prevent of common diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. 

Most skip breakfast to fulfill the 16 hours of fasting but skipping dinner is also an option.

Alternate Day Fasting Can Be Challenging Long-Term

Other popular forms of intermittent fasting include OMAD (one meal a day), 20:4 (the Warrior Diet), 5:2 ( five days of normal eating and two days of fasting), and alternate-day fasting.

Out of all of the protocols, alternate day fasting is probably the most challenging.

Alternate day fasting:

  • Allow you to eat normally every other day (3-4 times a week)
  • On fasting days some modify the diet and have a small meal around 500 calories
  • Encourages effortless caloric restriction

But studies show that participants who practice alternate-day fasting vs. traditional caloric restriction have much of the same results.

Since there isn’t much research done around alternate day fasting, one study explored the possible benefits for six months.

Researches found that:

  • At the six-month mark weight loss in the alternate-day fasting group (ADF) vs. the daily caloric restricted group showed no difference.
  • There was also no difference in lean muscle mass, fat mass, and visceral fat.
  • Biomarkers like blood pressure and heart rate were also the same in the two groups
  • The dropout rate in the ADF group was higher. 38% vs. 29% in the caloric restricted group

Studies like this prove that ADF has more cons than pros. Daily caloric restriction in this case looks like the better option.

Any Practice That Involves Breaks From Eating Can Be Effective

By looking at the research,  we can see that ADF doesn’t have more to offer than other fasting protocols.

The truth is any break from eating can be effective for steady weight loss. 

Many people in the West have an eating window that’s over 15 hours. This is one of the reasons why obesity is so prevalent.

We’re not giving our bodies any break from digestion. 

If you were to narrow your eating window to even 10 hours, over time you would automatically consume fewer calories. This would result in effortless weight loss.

One study showed that 32 healthy adult men reduced their caloric intake 20% by narrowing their eating window to 10 hours.

This protocol is commonly known as time-restricted eating (TRE).

The benefits of TRE include:

  • A wider eating window than traditional fasting. This encourages long-term compliance.
  • More stable blood sugar and insulin levels. Constant eating causes blood sugar to spike and fall which creates feelings of hunger.
  • Weight loss. Provided that your diet is healthy and filled with minimally processed foods.

TRE creates an environment that facilitates weight loss without much resistance. It’s one of the best ways to reduce calories without feeling restricted.

Bottom Line

Eating windows wider than 10 hours per day creates the perfect environment for common lifestyle diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

Intermittent fasting is proven to be better than ADF. If you have a small meal on your fasting day this makes ADF a bit more bearable.

TRE is one of the best ways to effortlessly reduce caloric intake. You’ll also lose weight in the process without employing “traditional” diet methods

You can start your weight loss journey today by adapting the protocol that you resonate with most.

Here’s a Guide That’ll Help You With Hunger As You Narrow Your Eating Window

Download the Stop Hunger Guide. Implement the 5 tips suggested. You’ll have a smoother fasting experience.