Low Carb Intermittent fasting is the practice of consuming your food within a pre-designated ‘eating window’, with a focus on limiting Carbohydrate intake.
LCIF is not a diet in the conventional sense and is instead based on meal timing combined with a low Carbohydrate intake. Specifically, you are consuming a low Carbohydrate daily intake of food within a specified ‘caloric window’ and fasting for the remaining hours of the day. Depending on your approach, the ‘eating’ window may be anything from 8 hours or less.
LCIF delivers a number of health benefits and when incorporated with a caloric deficit is a powerful weight loss tool. You can read more about our approach to LCIF in our complete guide found here.
Regardless of the reasons why undertaking an LCIF approach to eating, a central tenant to LCIF is Intermittent Fasting which dictates when you eat rather than what you eat.
The 16:8 Method
There are a number of ways to approach Intermittent Fasting. The most common being the 16:8 method, first made popular by Martin Berkham of leangains.com.
The 16:8 method requires fasting for 16 hours and consuming your calories during the remaining 8 hours of the day. Many people practice this method by abstaining from food after 8:00 p.m. They will then skip breakfast and consume their first meal at midday.
However, this largely depends on your lifestyle. If for instance you work late into the evening and rise later than most people you can simply push back the eating window to best suit your schedule. In the case of a shift worker, this may mean you are waking mid-morning and fasting until much later in the day e.g. 5-6pm.
And while this is the method we recommend especially if new to Low Carb Intermittent Fasting, as it appears to be the easiest in terms of adherence the 16:8 method may not be optimal for everyone. Additionally, in some cases, those who have practiced the 16:8 method when starting out may be looking to test other approaches to see what is the best fit for them.
In the following, I have outlined 5 types of Intermittent Fasting that can work hand in hand with LCIF.
12 Hour Fasting
As the name suggests, the fasting window is 12 hours as opposed to 16. Beginners may find this approach easier than the 16:8 method to begin with before potentially transitioning toward a longer fasting window. We generally recommend a similar approach, to begin with by simply skipping breakfast but eating a little later into the night than you may normally consider.
Not for the faint of heart, the 5:2 approach requires two full days each week where the person undertaking the fast is limited to a very small amount of food e.g. 400 – 600 calories. While you are not required to fast on subsequent days, this approach can take some getting used to.
However over time, 5:2 fasting becomes far more manageable and for some represent a convenient way to incorporate Intermittent Fasting into their schedule.
The Warrior Diet or OMAD (one meal a day) tends to center around consuming one large meal per day, usually within a 4-hour window and fasting, or consuming a very small amount of calories for the remaining 20 hours per day. Much like 5:2 fasting this can be challenging for beginners but once the body has adjusted can be a convenient approach to LCIF.
24 Hour Fasting
This approach is similar to the 5:2 fasting diet, however, requires only one full day of fasting instead of two.
Alternate Day Fasting
Alternate day fasting, as the name suggests requires the person undertaking the diet to fast on alternate days. This does not necessarily mean a zero caloric intake is required on the non-fasting days, however, caloric intake on fasting days is still very low e.g. under 500 Calories.
Where does Sleep Fit in with Intermittent Fasting
*In case you are wondering, yes, the hours you sleep also count as fasting hours. Based on a regular person’s sleeping habits most of us already fast for up to 8 hours every day.
In the case of LCIF, we recommend the 16:8 approach as this is simpler for most people to transition to and seems to be the easiest in terms of adherence however there’s no reason you can’t integrate any of the fasting methods described above into your weekly schedule.
I would however strongly recommend speaking to your doctor prior to undertaking any of the more extreme approaches e.g. 5:2 and OMAD or if you have an underlying condition or have experienced an eating disorder at any time in the past.