16/8 Intermittent Fasting:
- What exactly is 16/8 Intermittent Fasting? It’s a relatively new dieting trend, and despite its name, it’s not really about what you eat—it’s about when you eat.
- The idea behind 16/8 Intermittent Fasting (IF) is that you fast for an extended period of time and then consume all of your calories in one or two meals, depending on the type of IF protocol you follow.
- This article will cover everything you need to know about this trendy diet plan, including how it works, if it’s safe, and if it might be right for you.
What is intermittent fasting?
You’ve probably heard of people following a fasting diet, where they consume little to no calories for an extended period of time.
But these fasts are typically extreme, restricting intake to a small window of time (usually between 3 and 7 days). The fasting diet is based on a simple premise—eat when you want and fast when you don’t.
In other words, intermittent fasting allows you to eat all your meals in any 8-hour window that you choose and fast during all other hours.
This type of eating schedule does not lead to muscle loss as many might assume. It actually supports muscle gain because it lets your body feast more effectively when calorie consumption isn’t spread throughout 24 hours of feeding windows.
Why eat only in an 8-hour window?
Eat less by cutting your meals into a shorter period of time. Proponents of 16/8 Intermittent Fasting claim that it helps with weight loss, enhances cognitive function, and improves overall health.
All three of these goals can be achieved through diet alone. However, proponents also claim that intermittent fasting can help achieve them more quickly.
While there is not yet scientific evidence to back up those claims, many people do find intermittent fasting useful for general health and well-being because it relieves stress on your body and promotes better sleep patterns.
When should you eat?
The key to intermittent fasting is eating your meals in a specific window of time. It’s not a diet, but more of a lifestyle change that allows you to easily incorporate intermittent fasting into your routine. Here are some tips on how and when to implement intermittent fasting in your daily life.
First thing in the morning — upon waking up — isn’t an ideal time for an extended fast, since you just slept through several hours of overnight fasting. However, it can be done if necessary.
If you have an early-morning meeting or appointment, try breaking your fast with a small snack before leaving home. Or if you have a few extra minutes at home in the morning before heading out, drink down a small glass of water and enjoy it while reading a book or checking email.
Another option is to simply sip on water throughout most of your morning meal—you may find that it helps curb hunger pangs until lunchtime!
How to find the best time of day for you.
Unlike every other habit we’ve discussed so far, intermittent fasting is best done on a schedule that fits into your life — and your normal sleeping routine.
So pick a time of day and stick with it, rather than choosing a random six hours to start your fast. If you’re a morning person, consider fasting between noon and 8pm.
If you hate morning workouts, try fasting between 10am and 6pm. Once you find a good fit, consider sticking with it for three months before adjusting.
The flexibility built into intermittent fasting should allow you to enjoy your meals without feeling deprived. Plus, if you wind up skipping a meal or two but still end up losing weight, any benefit will be negated.
Just remember: There’s no point in going hungry if there’s food available to eat! The key is figuring out what works best for you and then sticking to it consistently over time.
What are your options for eating during your 8-hour window?
Now that you’ve read about how to begin an intermittent fasting protocol, it’s time to decide what you’re going to eat. This will vary from person to person and is dependent on a few factors like weight loss goals, lifestyle preferences, food allergies, etc.
While many people aim for fat bombs or keto-friendly foods during their feeding window, others prefer slow digesting proteins or whole foods with higher fiber content.
When beginning a new IF protocol (or any new eating plan), start slowly and monitor your progress as you go along so that you don’t overdo it with your first meal.
If you need help getting started, ask a friend or family member for some ideas on easy-to-prepare meals during your feeding window!
What can I expect from intermittent fasting?
You may notice a change in how you feel, such as increased energy and greater mental clarity. One of the most common effects of intermittent fasting is a reduced appetite, which can help people reduce overall calorie intake.
This is especially helpful for those who have problems sticking to a healthy eating plan for an extended period of time.
However, studies have shown that some people do experience headaches during fasting and rarely, some also suffer from low blood sugar levels.
Do I need to exercise while doing this protocol?
You don’t need to exercise while doing a fast, but you certainly can. You will lose weight faster if you do exercise during a fast, as your body is expending more energy than it is taking in. And it will probably be less of a struggle to not eat over a long period if you are also being active.
However, there’s no reason you can’t do an intermittent fast without exercising; many people prefer to take advantage of downtime from eating (as when sleeping or traveling) and use their extra time for other activities such as reading, writing, or walking for pleasure.
Exercise helps make life enjoyable! In chapter 7 we will cover how much exercise is needed and how much you should strive for every week.
Frequently Asked Questions About This Dieting Strategy
Isn’t fasting dangerous? No, as long as you don’t do it for days at a time and as long as you’re in good health to begin with. If you’re worried about fasting because of its effects on your mental or physical health, check out my other guide here.
The biggest problems I see arise when people try to force their body into using its own fat stores, but those who take more relaxed approaches lose weight just fine.
Can I drink coffee while intermittent fasting? Yes, as long as you drink it before 12 p.m., which is when many people start eating breakfast. Can I exercise while intermittent fasting? Yes, but make sure not to work out too close to dinner (roughly 2-3 hours).
What should I eat after intermittent fasting? After your fast is over, go ahead and eat normally until dinner time rolls around again tomorrow morning—but now that you’ve been fasting, you’ll probably find that even if you do want some food later in the day, nothing sounds very appealing!