Intermittent fasting is a popular eating plan that has garnered a following in most every circle. From famous celebrities, to fitness and nutrition enthusiasts as well as friends and family around you – everyone seems to love and rave about this plan.
That said, how do you know if this plan is for you and which schedule might work best for you? Read on to learn more about this eating plan, its possible benefits, the distinct schedules and whether or not an intermittent fasting by age chart is necessary for success.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is an eating plan/pattern that cycles between periods of eating and fasting. During the fasting hours people avoid consuming any source of calories, be it from food or drinks. Once this period passes, you can eat as much as you want.
Unlike other eating plans, intermittent fasting (or IF for short), does not restrict certain foods or insist on the counting of calories – it rather dictates when you should consume calories. However, for success – especially for weight loss – people prefer to watch what they eat, not binge on high-calorie foods, and sometimes watch their portion sizes.
Do You Determine The Intermittent Fasting Schedule By Age?
No, you do not. Intermittent fasting based on age is not a thing. The schedule is determined by ability and above all time, as seen below.
Different Intermittent Fasting Methods
As seen above, IF dictates when you should eat. For this plan, people can fast for just 12 hours a day while others can go up to 40 hours without calories (19). Here are some of the most popular intermittent fasting schedules and how they work
The 16:8 method
Of all the different IF schedules, the 16:8 is the most popular one. On this schedule, you have a 16-hour fasting window where you cannot consume calories and an 8-hour eating window where you can eat to your heart’s content.
On this schedule, most people start fasting right after dinner and will only break their fast at around noon – no midnight snack or early morning breakfast.
The 14:10 method
This schedule is similar to the 16:8 schedule. The 14:10 method is considered an easier version of the 16:8, as it has a shorter fasting and longer eating window. This method is for those who find the 16:8 method too hard to get used to.
The 12:12 method
The 12:12 is basically the same as the 16:8 and the 14:10. This method is often recommended to beginners who have never fasted before.
Because the eating and fasting windows are even, it’s easier to follow and stick to. Once you get used to the 12:12, you can get into the 14:10 and eventually aim for the 16:8 schedule.
The 5:2 diet
On this schedule, you are required to eat as you normally would for 5 days of the week and only consume 500 to 600 calories for 2 fasting days of the week.
It should be noted that on the fasting days, women have no more than 500 calories, while men have 600 calories, or 25% of their energy needs. If you choose to do the 5:2 diet, it is important to not do the fasting days back to back. For example, the fasting days can be Monday and Wednesday, Sundays and Thursdays, etc.
The Eat-Stop-Eat diet
Also known as the 24-hour fast, this method involves fasting for a full 24 hours once or twice a week. Remember that calories from food and drinks are not allowed during the 24-hour fasting days.
However, like every other fasting window on all other IF schedules, you are allowed to have water, tea, and other calorie-free drinks. Once the 24-hour fasting window passes, you can go back to eating as you normally do.
An important factor to note – If you choose to do the 24-hour fast twice a week, it is best to have a couple of days in between the fasting days.
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Alternate day fasting
You fast every other day on this regime. This is a mashup of both the 5:2 diet and the eat-stop-eat diet. You can either choose to not eat completely or simply limit your calorie intake to 500 to 600 kcal on fasting days, depending on how you feel or what is safe for you.
The Warrior Diet
Also known as the 20:4 method, it is arguably the hardest and most extreme version of intermittent fasting there is. On this diet, you fast for 20 hours and only have a 4-hour eating window.
To make this schedule more manageable you are allowed to have some small portions of raw fruits and vegetables during the fasting window. This is very much unlike other schedules where you aren’t allowed to eat anything in the fasting cycle.
Despite being allowed to eat a little during the fasting window, you are still required to save most of your calorie intake for the 4-hour eating window.
Who Is Intermittent Fasting Good For?
Intermittent fasting is not for everyone, but if you are a healthy adult with no history of an eating disorder and are not pregnant or breastfeeding, you might be able to give it a try. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have any medical conditions or are taking any medications, as those will need to be taken into consideration.. Some benefits you may experience if you choose to start this plan include
Weight & Fat Loss
Research has suggested that fasting in general can help with both fat and weight loss.
One article published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal stated that fasting anywhere between 10 to 16 hours forces the body to start burning stored fat for energy. As long as you don’t overeat during your eating window, you also reduce your overall calorie intake. This can eventually lead to weight loss over time (14).
A small pilot study done on obese men found that men who fasted and ate using the 16:8 schedule, not only lost some weight but also ate 350 fewer calories than those who ate normally. This caloric restriction happened without requiring calorie counting (8).
This goes to show that when intermittent fasting, you may lose weight by unknowingly eating fewer calories than normal. Remember, a calorie deficit is a key to weight loss.
Appetite control is also another factor in calorie restriction and weight loss. A small study published in the Obesity journal found that intermittent fasting reduced appetite and increased fat oxidation in participants (5).
A study published in 2021 in the Nutrition & Diabetes journal found that a combination of the 14:10 fasting schedule and a commercial weight management program led to impressive weight loss results in study participants (7).
We can conclude from this data that intermittent fasting can be a useful tool for weight loss, but it is only one piece of the puzzle. You still need to eat fewer calories overall, consume healthy balanced meals during your eating windows, and stay physically active.
Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic illness with many risk factors, some of which may be modifiable. Visceral obesity and insulin resistance are two of the most common potentially modifiable risk factors of this illness.
One review comparing the effects of intermittent fasting and daily calorie restriction for type 2 diabetes prevention found that they produced similar reductions in visceral fat mass, fasting insulin, and insulin resistance (18).
Another review on the effects of intermittent fasting in the treatment of diabetes found that this eating plan, under a physician’s supervision, may help reduce body weight, decrease fasting glucose, decrease fasting insulin, and reduce insulin resistance, all the factors that could help with the treatment of type 2 diabetes (13).
Inflammation, especially chronic inflammation is a contributor to many chronic illnesses, namely diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, as well as arthritis and other joint diseases (3). Research has suggested that intermittent fasting may reduce some inflammation markers, which might lower your risk of chronic illnesses (9).
Read more: Is Fasting for 24 Hours Once a Week Healthy?
Improved brain health & reduced risk of cognitive disorders
Animal studies on the benefits of intermittent fasting on the brain have suggested that it may help with the growth of new nerve cells and even protect the organ against damage caused by strokes (15, 1).
Studies on intermittent fasting and cognitive disorders done on rats have shown that this eating plan may protect against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s disease (17, 4, 20)
Improved heart health
A review published in the Frontiers in Nutrition journal in 2021 suggested that this eating plan may
- reduce total cholesterol,
- Lower blood triglycerides
- Reduce blood pressure
- Lower fasting insulin and insulin resistance
All these factors can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular illnesses (6).
Some research has suggested that fasting could help with the prevention of cancer, particularly those cancers that are related to obesity, through weight loss (12, 16). In humans, this eating pattern has been shown to be safe but challenging in patients undergoing cancer treatments, and more research is needed to determine any benefits (10, 11).
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Which Intermittent Plan Is Best For Me?
No IF schedule can be said to be perfect for everyone. To find which one works for you, we suggest experimenting with different schedules to see which one seems easier for you. As previously stated, the 16:8 and 14:10 schedules are the most popular but you should find one that works best for you.
Does Intermittent Fasting Vary By Age?
No, it does not.
The theory of intermittent fasting by age is a fad made up by people trying to trick and sell unscientific eating/meal plans to people. As seen above, the only rule of this eating plan is when to eat. The age group has nothing to do with it. Other factors, such as health conditions and medication use, may affect how or if you should fast and should be discussed with your healthcare provider.
Is Intermittent Fasting By Age Group A Real Thing?
No, it is not.
Time is the only thing that determines when you should eat and when you should stop and start fasting. The kind of schedule you choose is all dependent on you, your age has nothing to do with it – neither does it determine how much weight you can lose or the benefits you can get. Just be sure to discuss your plans with your healthcare provider, especially if you have any medical conditions or take any medications.
Which Are The Best Intermittent Fasting Hours By Age?
Once again, age has nothing to do with when you should fast or break the fast while doing IF. Individual factors such as lifestyle, schedule, and health conditions may need to be taken into consideration.
Is Intermittent Fasting Good For Seniors?
It can be for some, as long as it is safe for them.
As seen above, this eating pattern may help with weight loss, protect brain health, and heart health, and even reduce chronic inflammation markers. Always talk to your healthcare provider before starting a fasting regimen.
Is Intermittent Fasting Good For Older Adults?
Yes, it can be, as long as it is safe for them.
As seen in the benefits section above, this eating plan has numerous potential advantages that can be incredibly beneficial to older adults. With that said, we strongly recommend that older adults seek medical advice before starting this eating plan.
Older adults are more likely to have certain medical conditions or be on medications that need to be taken into consideration when thinking about fasting. To be on the safer side, seek some guidance from a health professional.
The Bottom Line
Intermittent fasting by age chart is not a real thing. If someone is trying to sell you such a thing, they are selling you a fad that has no basis or scientific backing. With that said, this eating plan clearly has numerous benefits that anyone can benefit from, regardless of age.
Whichever schedule you choose, be sure to try eating as healthy as possible during the feeding window, mind your calorie intake, and try working out. A combination of these 3 ensures that you will get the best results from this plan. Always talk to your healthcare provider before starting.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Abstract WP138: Intermittent Fasting Prevents Ischemic Progression and Promotes Long-Term Recovery (2020, ahajournals.org)
- A randomised controlled trial of the 5:2 diet (2021, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Chronic Inflammation (2022, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Dietary restriction increases the number of newly generated neural cells, and induces BDNF expression, in the dentate gyrus of rats (2000, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Early Time-Restricted Feeding Reduces Appetite and Increases Fat Oxidation But Does Not Affect Energy Expenditure in Humans (2019, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Effect of Epidemic Intermittent Fasting on Cardiometabolic Risk Factors: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials (2021, frontiersin.org)
- Effect of time restricted eating on body weight and fasting glucose in participants with obesity: results of a randomized, controlled, virtual clinical trial (2021, nature.com)
- Effects of 8-hour time restricted feeding on body weight and metabolic disease risk factors in obese adults: A pilot study (2018, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Effects of intermittent fasting diets on plasma concentrations of inflammatory biomarkers: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (2020, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Effects of short-term fasting on cancer treatment (2021, jeccr.biomedcentral.com)
- Fasting: Molecular Mechanisms and Clinical Applications (2014, cell.com)
- Fasting to enhance Cancer treatment in models: the next steps (2020, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Intermittent fasting: is there a role in the treatment of diabetes? A review of the literature and guide for primary care physicians (2021, clindiabetesendo.biomedcentral.com)
- Intermittent fasting: the science of going without (2013, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Intermittent fasting increases adult hippocampal neurogenesis (2019, onlinelibrary.wiley.com)
- Intermittent fasting in the prevention and treatment of cancer (2021, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Intermittent fasting protects against the deterioration of cognitive function, energy metabolism and dyslipidemia in Alzheimer’s disease-induced estrogen deficient rats (2018, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Intermittent fasting vs daily calorie restriction for type 2 diabetes prevention: a review of human findings (2014, sciencedirect.com)
- Physiological responses to acute fasting: implications for intermittent fasting programs (2021, academic.oup.com)
- Preventing mutant huntingtin proteolysis and intermittent fasting promote autophagy in models of Huntington disease (2018, actaneurocomms.biomedcentral.com)
- Time limited eating in adolescents with obesity (time LEAd): Study protocol (2020, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)