Daily Fasting vs. Weekly Fasting

04.09.2018 |

Episode #2 of the course The beginner’s guide to intermittent fasting by Theo Brenner-Roach


After yesterday’s lesson, you should have a good idea of what IF is, what it entails, and why you would want to do it.

Today’s lesson is going to dig a bit deeper and look at the two primary methods of fasting:

• daily fasting

• weekly fasting

As we touched on yesterday, daily fasting is a method of eating where you split your day into two parts, a fasting period and feasting period. What I didn’t tell you is that the fasting period is typically twice as long as the feeding period (more on this in a moment).

Weekly fasting, on the other hand, sees you alternate between fasting days and feeding days, typically on a schedule or five to six feeding days and one to two fasting days.

Let’s look at each in turn.


Daily Fasting

By far, the most popular method of daily fasting is the 16:8 protocol, first popularized by Martin Berkhan and more recently, Greg O’Gallagher.

As the name suggests, this protocol has you fast for 16 hours and then eat your daily calories in an 8-hour period.*

The 16:8 IF protocol has you start fasting in the late evening after you’ve had dinner, maintain this fast for 16 hours and generally break the fast around 12-2pm the next day, depending when you started.

Setting up like this allows you to complete the full 16 hours of fasting with about half of it spent asleep, thus making the fast easier.

*During the eight-hour eating window, your meal structure is up to you. Many people opt for either a small snack and two large meals or just two meals depending on calorie allowance and lifestyle.

Now, although this is the most common setup, you can arrange it in whichever way works best for you. If you prefer to eat breakfast and skip dinner, then that can also work.


Weekly Fasting

When it comes to weekly fasting, the most common setup is to use either one or two full 24-hour fasts per week.

Perhaps the two most well-known methods of doing this are Dr. Michael Mosley’s 5:2 diet and Brad Pilon’s Eat Stop Eat diet, both of which have you fasting for two 24-hour periods per week.

In terms of setup, you can either do these two days back to back for a full 48-hour fasting or split them up with a day or two in between each fast.

Additionally, some protocols (5:2 diet) allow you to eat a small meal (circa 500 calories) on fasting days, while others (Eat Stop Eat) only allow zero-calorie drinks.

On non-fasting days, guidelines encourage you to eat “mindfully” and of course, not go overboard.


Which Setup Is Better?

The answer to this question is largely dependent on what works best for you.

• What do you find easiest to stick to?

• What works best with your lifestyle?

You need to consider all the following and more:

• your workout schedule

• your working hours

• your sleeping patterns

• your social life

However, that being said, it’s my opinion that daily fasting is much more suitable for most people for the following reasons:

• It’s easier to adhere to than full day fasts, due to the fact you can eat every day, are not fasting for as long, and spend approximately half of your time fast asleep. [1]

• It’s more lifestyle friendly, as there are no days where you’re not eating at all; this means you don’t have to turn down social occasions or other events where food or drink are involved.

• It’s a better introduction to those not used to fasting, due to the shorter fasting times and the structure of each day being the same setup; it’s an easier introduction into the lifestyle than the on-off setup of weekly fasting.

Regardless of which you choose, the benefits are plentiful for both, which brings us to the topic of tomorrow’s lesson: the science of IF and the benefits it can provide you.

See you then.


Recommended book

Delay, Don’t Deny: Living an Intermittent Fasting Lifestyle by Gin Stephens et al.



[1] Effect of Alternate-Day Fasting on Weight Loss, Weight Maintenance, and Cardioprotection among Metabolically Healthy Obese Adults


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