16:8 intermittent fasting is a type of eating plan that requires you to cycle between periods of eating and fasting. It’s a popular and effective way to improve health and lose weight, and has become one of the trendiest diets in recent years. The goal of intermittent fasting is for your body to switch from burning glycogen to burning fat stored during the fasting period, but it offers additional health benefits than just weight loss. Keep reading to find out the many health benefits of 16:8 intermittent fasting as well as our best tips to help you get started!
What Is 16:8 Intermittent Fasting?
With the 16:8 intermittent fasting method, you fast everyday for 16 hours and restrict your eating window to 8 hours. This eating window allows you to fit in at least two to three meals. Most people who use this method start fasting after dinner and don’t eat anything until lunch the next day. You can drink water, black coffee, and black and green tea during the fasting window to help you feel less hungry.
What Are The Benefits of 16:8 Intermittent Fasting?
- Weight loss
- Reduced visceral fat
- Improved cognition and brain function
- Decreased insulin resistance/risk of type 2 diabetes
- Reduced blood pressure and cholesterol
- Reduced inflammation
What Are The Disadvantages of 16:8 Intermittent Fasting?
- Many people experience initial, short-term discomfort including:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Mood swings
- Low energy
- Long periods of fasting can cause some people to overeat and/or consume higher calorie foods during their eating window, which can lead to weight gain
- Some research suggests that longer fasting periods can negatively impact hormones and fertility in women
Consult with a doctor if you have a medical condition such as diabetes or low blood sugar levels, a history of eating disorders, are underweight, have nutritional deficiencies, are pregnant or have fertility problems before starting 16:8 intermittent fasting.
What To Eat While Intermittent Fasting
While there are no rules about what you can and cannot eat on the 16:8 intermittent fasting plan, it’s important to focus on wholesome, good-for-you foods.
FOODS TO AVOID:
- Refined carbs
- Processed foods
- Fatty foods
- Liquid calories
FOODS TO FILL UP ON:
- Fruits and vegetables
- High fiber foods
- Fatty fish
Ten 16:8 Intermittent Fasting Tips for Beginners
1. Start slowly
Intermittent fasting can result in short-term discomfort, including hunger, fatigue, and mood swings. These symptoms tend to subside as your body gets used to your new eating regime, and a great way to avoid significant ups and downs during the transition is to start slowly. You can begin with longer eating windows and slowly decrease them overtime, like this: 12:12, 14:10, 16:8. Or, if you really want to jump into 16:8 intermittent fasting, you can start by only doing it 2 or 3 times a week and increase as your body adjusts.
2. Pick Your 8-Hour Window
Look at your schedule and figure out the best time to organize you 8-hour eating window. Many people find a 12 pm to 8 pm window easiest as this allows them to skip breakfast and still enjoy lunch and dinner with family and friends before closing their kitchen for the night. But there are no hard and fast rules around this, and you can choose a schedule that works best for you.
3. Eat Well During Your Eating Windows
Although there are no rules on what you can and can’t eat while intermittent fasting, it’s important to fill your body with nutritious, healthy foods to reap the weight loss benefits this plan offers. If you eat a large amount of unhealthy, high-calorie foods during your eating window, you’re much less likely to experience weight loss and the other health benefits of intermittent fasting. See above for a list of foods to eat and avoid to maximize weight loss.
4. Make Sure Your Fast Is ‘Clean’
If you’ve been researching about intermittent fasting, you’ve probably heard of ‘clean’ versus ‘dirty’ fasting.
- Clean fasting means that you only consume tap or mineral water, plain sparkling water, black coffee, black tea, or green tea while fasting.
- Dirty fasting allows for foods and beverages under 50 calories during the fasting window, such as artificial sweeteners, milk, creamer, mints, and gum.
Everyone seems to have their own opinion on whether to do a clean or dirty fast, but if you want to avoid spikes in insulin, maximize fat burning, and reduce hunger pangs, stick with a clean fast. The book Delay, Don’t Deny by Gin Stephens does a great job explaining the science behind this if you’d like more details.
5. Pay Attention to Your Hunger Cues
When you start to crave food, take a moment to assess how you’re feeling. Are you truly hungry, or are you bored, stressed, anxious, sad, angry, lonely, or depressed? Changes in our emotions tend to make us crave comfort foods that are high in sugar and refined carbohydrates, but when we’re truly hungry, we’d be just as happy with an apple or a plate of veggie sticks. Hunger also causes our blood sugar to decrease, making it harder for us to focus and concentrate. Pay attention to the signals your body is sending you before deciding if you’re truly hungry.
6. Don’t Overeat
When you break your fast, make sure to do it slowly. While you may feel like eating everything in sight, this will make it difficult for you to notice when you are satiated, and you will end up feeling bloated and uncomfortable. Fill your plate with lean proteins, healthy fats, and good-for-you carbs, chew your food slowly, and take the time to enjoy the smell, taste, and texture of your meals and snacks. The more mindful you are of the things you are eating, the easier it will be to notice when you start to feel full so you don’t overeat and erase all of your weight loss efforts.
7. Be Flexible
Allowing for flexibility is key in ensuring long-term weight loss success. If you know you have an extra busy day or week coming up, you can reduce your period of fasting as needed. This will reduce stress and help keep you fuelled on days you need more energy, and you can return to your regular 16:8 intermittent fasting plan the next day.
Since you lose muscle as you get older, it’s important to continue to exercise and build muscle. If you’re eating a balanced diet and following a proper training program, it’s safe and recommended to exercise while following a 16:8 intermittent fasting plan.
9. Stay Hydrated
Drinking plain water, unsweetened black coffee and tea, and green tea will ensure you remain hydrated while also helping to reduce hunger pangs and cravings throughout the day. Remember that thirst can present itself as hunger, so make sure you’re drinking enough water!
10. Listen to Your Body
While 16:8 intermittent fasting is a great tool for weight loss, it’s not for everyone. If you have a history of disordered eating and/or diabetes, are pregnant or breastfeeding, engage in intense training, and/or experience negative side effects from fasting such as dizziness and changes in your menstrual cycle, make sure to talk to your doctor to decide if intermittent fasting is safe for you.
If you’re interested in trying 16:8 intermittent fasting for weight loss, I hope the tips in this post prove useful to you!