Intermittent Fasting: Chart, Benefits, Types and Side Effects


Medically reviewed by

Bajaj Finserv Health


11 min read

Key Takeaways

  • Check your health conditions before you start a intermittent fasting for weight loss.
  • When you follow an intermittent fasting, belly fat reduces considerably.
  • 16:8 is the most effective intermittent fasting window to follow.

How would you feel about losing weight without following fad diets or spending hours at the gym? Sounds interesting, right? That’s where intermittent fasting for weight loss comes into play.  To lose weight, consistency is key. Following strict diets that may not be sustainable in the long run cannot help you shed those extra kilos. More than a diet, an intermittent fasting weight loss plan is a healthy eating pattern that has been gaining popularity recently. The vital question here is when you eat rather than what you eat. However, eating in moderation is also important when you are considering intermittent fasting for weight loss.

Keep in mind that some people may not find an intermittent fasting weight loss diet effective either due to health reasons or rigid work schedules. It is better to try intermittent fasting only after assessing your health. If you are suffering from diabetes, taking medications, breastfeeding or pregnant, this form of weight loss is a big no-no. Even adolescent children should refrain from intermittent fasting.

To know more about intermittent fasting for weight loss, read on.

Intermittent Fasting and Weight Loss

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

Often called the best fasting for weight loss, intermittent fasting allows you to eat what you normally do, but by following a certain eating schedule. Studies reveal that your body is capable of surviving without food not just for hours but even for several days [1]. Usually you may not be following a proper eating pattern, for which you can blame your fast-paced lifestyle in this technologically advanced world! You may even tend to binge on snacks and processed foods post dinner or even after midnight. Minimal physical activity and increase in calories can cause heart ailments, obesity and many other illnesses apart from obesity.

Tackling all these issues, intermittent fasting can promote good health. While there are different ways to do it, be consistent and follow the same eating pattern throughout. Until you get comfortable with the whole process, stick to the same schedule before you increase your fasting window.

When you fast for long hours, your body gets into starvation mode. This means your body is depleted of its sugar reserves and starts to burn fat for energy. This process is also called metabolic switching. This is exactly why during intermittent fasting belly fat gets drastically reduced. As you increase gaps between your meals, your body also starts to burn fat reserves rapidly. It also helps in the autophagy process. In this process, your body removes waste materials. This happens only when glycogen reserves in the liver are depleted.

Intermittent Fasting Affect on Cells and Hormones

While you fast, several cellular and molecular transitions happen in your body. For example, your body alters hormone levels to boost the use of body fat that has been accumulated.

Your cells also initiate critical repair processes and change gene expression. Here are a few changes that happen to your body while you are fasting: 

  • Human Growth Hormone (HGH): HGH levels skyrocket, frequently by a factor of five. This helps with fat loss and muscle strengthening, among other things.
  • Insulin: Insulin sensitivity increases, and insulin levels sharply decline. Lower insulin levels increase the use of body fat reserves.
  • Cellular repair: Fasting causes your cells to begin the process of mending themselves. This includes autophagy, a process by which cells digest and get rid of accumulated waste proteins.
  • Gene expression: Genes involved in ageing and disease prevention undergo changes in function.

Modifications in hormone levels, cellular makeup, and gene expression are the basis for intermittent fasting's health benefits.

The human growth hormone levels increase, and insulin levels fall when you fast. Your body's cells also alter gene expression and initiate important cellular repair processes.

Intermittent Fasting Diet Chart:-

The following infographic shows you a diet plan for intermittent fasting for losing weight.

weight loss diet plan

Intermittent Fasting Types

16:8 Intermittent fasting:-

The most effective intermittent fasting plan is the 16:8 plan. Here, your fasting window is 16 hours and your eating window is 8 hours. This is one of the most feasible plans that can be followed by anyone and is called time-restricted fasting.

However, it is better to start with a 12:10 plan before you proceed to 16:8. If you are a beginner, you can initially start with a 12:12 plan, wherein you fast for 12 hours and eat during the remaining 12 hours. This is also known as an overnight fasting plan.

5:2 Intermittent fasting:-

Another popular fasting method is 5:2 fasting. In this plan, you eat normally without keeping a calorie count for 5 days. However, on the remaining 2 days you restrict your calorie intake to 500 or 600 calories. The number of calories you need to consume is determined by your BMI.

Whole Day Fasting:-

Another mode of approach is called the whole day fasting method, you only eat once in 24 hours. It is essential to consume nutrient-dense foods as you are eating only a single meal in a day.

You can choose a plan you are comfortable with after understanding your health and related needs. It is also ideal to have water during your fasting window and consume a well-balanced diet. Avoid processed foods during this time to ensure your body gets all the required nutrients.

Intermittent Fasting Foods

A healthy eating plan should adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Eat mostly whole foods that haven't been processed much
  • Balance your diet by including lean protein, fruits, vegetables, smart carbohydrates, and healthy fats
  • Make tasty, scrumptious foods that you like
  • Eat your meals carefully and slowly until you are satiated

Diets that involve intermittent fasting don't call for any set meals. However, there are some food categories that are better to eat and some you should restrict if you're following healthy eating guidelines.

Intermittent Fasting Diet Plan

On an intermittent fasting diet, you should make sure to eat from the three food groups:

  • Healthy proteins
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables

Healthy Proteins

When fasting, it's crucial to eat lean protein since it makes you feel fuller for longer than other foods and helps you keep or gain muscle, according to Maciel. Red meat, such as bacon, sausage, and hamburger meat, is one example of a protein that is rich in fat and contains LDL cholesterol, the "bad" variety of cholesterol linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Lean, nutritious protein sources include, for instance:

  • Poultry breast
  • Unflavored greek yogurt
  • Lentils and other legumes
  • Shellfish and fish
  • Tempeh and tofu


It's crucial to eat a variety of nutrient-dense meals when intermittent fasting, as with any diet plan. Vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients (nutrients found in plants), and fiber are frequently abundant in fruits and vegetables. These nutrients, vitamins, and minerals can support intestinal health, blood sugar regulation, and cholesterol reduction. Vegetables and fruits are low in calories, which is another benefit.

According to the 2020-25 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, most adults should consume roughly 2 cups of fruit per day to maintain a 2,000-calorie diet.

When intermittent fasting, try to eat certain kinds of fruit, for instance:


Vegetables might play a big part in an intermittent fasting plan. According to a study, a diet rich in leafy greens may reduce your risk of acquiring heart problems, diabetes type 2 cancer, cognitive impairment, and other disorders [1]. According to the government's 2020-25 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the majority of individuals should consume 2.5 cups of vegetables per day for a diet of 2,000 calories.

Veggies that are accessible and suitable for a program including intermittent fasting include:

  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Tomatoes
  • Cauliflower
  • Beans

Leafy greens are a great option as well because they are full of minerals and fiber. Consider including these foods in your diet:

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Chard
  • Cabbage
  • lettuce greens
  • Arugula

Foods to Avoid in Intermittent Fasting Diet

Some meals aren't as beneficial to eat as part of a fasting plan. Foods that are heavy in calories include saturated fat, which is bad for your heart, and salt should be avoided.

Additionally, they offer very little to no nutrition.

Limit the following items to keep a balanced intermittent eating schedule:

  • Chips as a snack
  • Crackers and pretzels

You should also stay away from meals that include a lot of added sugar. Processed sugar is nutritionally worthless and only provides sweet, empty calories, which is not what you want if you're occasionally fasting. They will make you feel hungry since sugar metabolizes so quickly.

The following are some examples of sugary things you should avoid if you're fasting intermittently:

  • Cookies
  • Candy
  • Cakes
  • Fruit beverages
  • Teas and coffees with a lot of sugar
  • Granola and sugary cereals with minimal fiber
 Intermittent Fasting and Weight Loss

Intermittent Fasting For Weight Loss

While intermittent fasting can reduce obesity, it also helps in boosting your energy. Following this specific eating pattern may also help in decreasing body inflammation apart from regulating your blood sugar levels. A study also revealed the normalization of blood pressure in extremely obese patients by following a three-week fasting diet [2]. It can also improve your heart health by decreasing your bad cholesterol levels.

Though there are many pros to intermittent fasting, you should also be aware of its disadvantages. While intermittent fasting can help you with weight management, you shouldn’t be following it if you have blood sugar problems or suffer from any other health ailments. If you are on certain medications or trying to conceive, this weight loss method is not suitable for you.

Those who are underweight or have eating disorders should also refrain from following intermittent fasting. When there is prolonged starvation, you may be tempted to overeat during the eating window, which is also not good for your body [3]. So, it is best to ensure you don’t fall into these categories or to start slow when you begin this process. 

Additional read: Important Diabetes Tests

Intermittent Fasting Benefits

It is proven to have benefits beyond only weight loss. The body and the brain are affected when alterations to this metabolic switch occur.

Data on a number of health advantages connected with the practice were disclosed in one of Mattson's research that was reported in the New England Journal of Medicine. Some of these benefits include a longer lifespan, a thinner body, and mental clarity. 

According to him, various physiological processes that occur during intermittent fasting can shield organs from chronic conditions, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, age-related neurological illnesses, even inflammatory bowel disease, and many malignancies.

Here are some of the benefits of skipping breakfast that research has discovered so far:

  • Memory and thought: As according to studies, it increases adult verbal memory and animal working memory [2]. 
  • Heart health: It improved blood pressure, steady heart rate, and other heart-related metrics.
  • Physical activity: After 16-hour fast, young guys lose fat while maintaining muscle mass.
  • Obese people with type 2 diabetes: It prevented obesity in animal trials. Additionally, in six quick experiments, obese adult adults shed pounds by Intermittent Fasting. Type 2 diabetics could gain from intermittent fasting. The majority of the existing data demonstrate that intermittent fasting can reduce insulin resistance, and decrease fasting glucose, fasting insulin, and fasting leptin levels while boosting adiponectin levels and reducing body weight. According to certain research, some patients who practiced intermittent fasting under their doctors' supervision were able to stop requiring insulin medication [3].
  • The health of the tissue: In rats, intermittent fasting reduced tissue damage during surgery and improved results.

Intermittent Fasting Safety and Side Effects

Hunger is the main adverse effect of intermittent fasting.

Additionally, you can experience fatigue and trouble thinking clearly.

This could just be a temporary condition as it might require some time for your body to adapt to the new eating plan.

You should see your doctor before trying intermittent fasting if you have a medical condition. This is especially crucial if you:

  • Possess diabetes
  • Have issues controlling blood sugar
  • Their Blood pressure is low
  • Consume medicine
  • Have a low weight
  • Possess a background in eating problems
  • Possess a history of amenorrhea as a woman

All things considered, there is really little risk associated with intermittent fasting. If you are normally healthy and well-nourished, going without food for a while won't do any harm. 

Hunger is one of the intermittent fasting's most prevalent negative effects. Therefore, those who have certain medical issues should not do fasting without first seeking medical advice.

While intermittent fasting may be associated with lower BMI levels, it is all about adapting yourself to this lifestyle and following it consistently. If you need more advice on how to go about this, connect to the best nutritionists and dieticians on Bajaj Finserv Health within minutes. Choose a specialist near you and get all your queries on intermittent fasting solved as quickly as possible. This way, you can start your weight loss journey with confidence!

Published on 29 Sep 2021Last updated on 16 Jan 2023

Please note that this article is solely meant for informational purposes and Bajaj Finserv Health Limited (“BFHL”) does not shoulder any responsibility of the views/advice/information expressed/given by the writer/reviewer/originator. This article should not be considered as a substitute for any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with your trusted physician/qualified healthcare professional to evaluate your medical condition. The above article has been reviewed by a qualified doctor and BFHL is not responsible for any damages for any information or services provided by any third party.


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