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16/8 Intermittent Fasting and How It Can Change Your Life
Intermittent Fasting

16/8 Intermittent Fasting and How It Can Change Your Life

HR_author_photo_Thalia
Written by Thalia Oosthuizen | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on October 22, 2022
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11 min

Intermittent fasting has taken the world by storm, but it’s time to see if the most popular 16/8 fasting method is really worth the hype.

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Intermittent fasting is one of the most popular diets, with millions of people following it each year. 

It’s a relatively simple diet to follow, and if you’ve clicked on this article, you’re probably looking to learn more about it.

If that’s the case, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll be looking at the popular 16/8 fasting method, how it works, and whether or not it’s able to produce effective results. Read on for more.

16/8 Intermittent Fasting: What Is It?

The 16/8 intermittent fasting method is a form of time-restricting fasting. The method involves eating foods throughout an 8-hour eating window, after which you abstain from eating anything for 16 hours, repeating daily. It is believed that this method works by supporting the body’s circadian rhythm or internal clock.

There are at least 7 different regimens of intermittent fasting and it is most commonly used as a weight-loss method, though it does offer a range of other health benefits that we’ll mention a bit later.

Most people who follow the 16/8 plan abstain from eating at night and for part of the morning and evening, then have their eating window be throughout the middle of the day.

There are no restrictions on the kind of food you can eat during your eating window, and it’s this flexibility that makes this one of the easier intermittent fasting plans to follow. The plan is far easier to follow when you’re able to track your progress, which is why we recommend the DoFasting app. It allows you to monitor your caloric intake, when your eating window occurs, and when you should be fasting. 

Such celebrities as Jennifer Aniston, Nicole Kidman, and Hugh Jackman are following the 16/8 regimen as well.

How to Do Intermittent Fasting

The easiest way to follow the 16/8 fasting method is to have your 16-hour fasting window be around the same time you sleep. 

Most experts will recommend that you finish eating early in the evening since this is when our metabolisms slow down. Of course, this doesn’t work for everyone.

Some people have difficulty eating their evening meal before 7 PM. If you’re one of them, we still recommend avoiding food for at least 2–3 hours before you go to sleep. 

Here are some of the most popular eating windows for the 16/8 intermittent fasting method:

  • 12 PM – 8 PM
  • 10 AM – 6 PM
  • 9 AM – 5 PM

Within each of these timeframes, you would be able to eat your regular meals and snacks at convenient times. It’s important to eat regularly when performing intermittent fasting to avoid dips in your blood pressure and blood sugar.

Low blood sugar is a common plight in intermittent fasting, so eating a healthy diet with a reasonable calorie intake will help you lose weight and stay healthy while fasting.

How to Start Intermittent Fasting

It might surprise you to learn that you have probably already performed many intermittent fasts throughout your life.

If you have eaten your evening meal, then slept late and not eaten until lunchtime the following day, you have already fasted for 16 hours before. This is an intuitive way of eating that many people follow without realizing it because many people don’t feel like eating in the mornings.

The 16/8 intermittent fasting method is considered the simplest and most sustainable way to fast for this exact reason. It works even better in conjunction with an app based on intermittent fasting, such as the DoFasting app. This app allows you to view all of your fasting statistics in one place, such as when last you fasted and when your next eating window is. 

DoFasting also allows you to set weight loss goals, then monitor your progress toward those goals, helping you stay motivated and goal-oriented. 

If you find that the 16/8 method is not working, you could always try another intermittent fasting strategy or simply abstain from any structured approach instead of fasting whenever it’s convenient by skipping meals from time to time.

What Are the Intermittent Fasting Rules?

There aren’t many rules for the 16/8 intermittent fasting method, other than the fact that you should be eating for 8 hours a day, then fasting for the other 16. So long as you’re following a balanced diet and aren’t falling into a disordered eating pattern, you’ll be good.

However, there are a few tips we can give you that will help you stick to this fasting method.

  • Drink water regularly throughout the day.
  • Drink tea during your fasting window to suppress your appetite.
  • Exercise just before or during your eating window, as exercise can trigger hunger.
  • Practice meditation while fasting to alleviate feelings of hunger.
  • Practice mindful eating during your eating windows.
  • Reduce your screen time to lower exposure to images of food, which can stimulate hunger and cravings.

If you follow these tips, you might find that you have an easier time following intermittent fasting.

What to Eat During Intermittent Fasting

During the 16-hour fasting window, you can eat nothing.

The 16/8 intermittent fasting method does not specify any particular foods you should be eating and avoiding in the eating window, but maintaining a healthy diet will always yield the best weight loss results.

Eating too many unhealthy foods can halt your weight loss progress and make burning away those fat stores more challenging, preventing your body weight from budging.

Here are some healthy foods you can focus on eating in your 8-hour window:

  • Whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, barley, and oats
  • Fresh, frozen, or canned fruits and vegetables
  • Healthy fats are found in olives, coconuts, avocados, and nuts. Healthy fats are particularly satiating and can fend off hunger for longer.
  • Lean sources of protein, like chicken, seafood, lentils, beans, eggs, cheese, and seeds

Furthermore, fruits, vegetables, and grains are rich in fiber, so they will help you feel full and satisfied for longer. They can also alleviate constipation. Proteins also contribute nicely to your satiety, which can help with weight loss and fat loss.

Remember to hydrate well, especially during the fasting period.

Does Intermittent Fasting Work?

Several processes occur in your body on the molecular and cellular levels when you fast. For instance, your body begins to adjust your hormone levels to make your stored fat more accessible. At the same time, your cells initiate essential repair processes to change the expression of your genes.

Here are some of the most notable changes that happen in your body:

  • Human growth hormone – The levels of HGH, which is the growth hormone in humans, begin to skyrocket, increasing as much as five times. This offers a range of benefits, including fat loss and muscle gain, to name a few.
  • Cellular repair – When your body is in a fasted state, your cells begin a process of cellular repair. Autophagy occurs within this process, where your cells digest and remove old, dysfunctional proteins that accumulate within cells.
  • Insulin – Your insulin sensitivity improves, and your insulin levels will drop dramatically. Lower insulin levels in the body mean that your stored body fat is more accessible, making it slightly more manageable to lose weight when you manage your calorie intake.

These changes in your cell function, hormone levels, and gene expression are responsible for many of the health benefits of intermittent fasting.

How Often Should You Do 16/8 IF?

You can fast one day a week, or you can do it every day. This method is safe and doesn’t require the supervision of a healthcare professional.

Of course, this will all depend on your blood pressure, heart health, weight loss goals, and any advice your doctor gives you.

There is also conflicting evidence as to whether or not it’s healthy to perform intermittent fasting all the time. Research has proven the metabolic benefits of short-term fasting, while other studies have shown that longer fasting sessions can suppress your metabolism and slow it down significantly.

Furthermore, going without food for a long time can lead to increased cholesterol levels, dehydration, morning sickness, and a higher chance of disordered eating.

How to Choose the Fasting Window

The fasting period you choose to follow should be based on your schedule, rather than disrupting your schedule to fit fasting.

We recommend starting with time-restricted eating windows. It’s the most popular way to start fasting because it is far less demanding than many other plans. You’ll pick a window of a few hours each day to eat, then fast during the other hours, which is the entire premise of the 16/8 fasting method.

The 16/8 is probably the most common fasting window and is one of the easiest to start with. Since it doesn’t involve pretty long fasting periods, it’s a more manageable schedule to start with.

Does Sleeping Count as Fasting?

Yes, sleeping does count as fasting. 

Most people who follow the 16/8 diet choose to place their fasting window close to the time they go to sleep so that the majority of the time that they spend not eating is also spent sleeping.

So, if you’re looking for an easy way to lose weight fast, having your sleeping window close to the time you are sleeping is a good practice.

16/8 Intermittent Fasting Benefits

Several studies are proving the health benefits of intermittent fasting. Here are some of the most powerful ones:

#1 Weight loss

Eating during a predetermined period can reduce the number of calories you consume, which can also boost your metabolism. 

Studies suggest that intermittent fasting leads to more significant fat loss and weight loss in men with obesity when compared to regular caloric restriction.

Furthermore, men who followed the 16/8 approach for eight weeks while resistance training showed a decrease in fat mass while maintaining muscle mass throughout. While this trial only featured male participants, it goes without saying that the effect would be similar, if not the same, for women. 

The DoFasting app helps track your fasting progress and when you last entered a fasted state, which helps you track your weight loss progress as well.

#2 Better concentration

There are some brain benefits to intermittent fasting too. Recent clinical trials suggest that sustained fasting routines maintained over a period of months or even years can also improve your memory, executive function, and overall cognition.

#3 Disease prevention

Intermittent fasting has also been suggested to prevent several conditions and diseases, including heart conditions, type 2 diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, and even cancer.

Most notably, the diet can have many benefits to your heart health as well. There are a number of risk factors that are associated with an increased risk of heart disease, but intermittent fasting has been proven to improve several of the risk factors, such as:

  • Blood pressure
  • Blood sugar
  • Inflammatory markers
  • Bad cholesterol

Most of this evidence is based on animal studies, so the effects of fasting on heart health would require further human study to be considered totally sound. 

#4 May extend your lifespan

Animal studies have suggested that intermittent fasting can help animals live longer. For instance, it was discovered that short-term repeated fasting increased the lifespan of female mice.

Interestingly, even after decades of research, scientists still can’t explain why intermittent fasting can lengthen life spans. As a result, they cannot confirm the long-term safety of this practice.

16/8 Intermittent Fasting Side Effects

Like most things, some side effects associated with the 16/8 fasting method would make the diet not suitable for everyone.

#1 Tiredness and fatigue

Some research has shown that some people who practice various methods of intermittent fasting experience fatigue and low levels of energy. 

Low blood sugar that is brought on by intermittent fasting can also make you feel weak and tired as well as disturb your sleep.

Naturally, this leads to tiredness during the day, so if you already suffer from a sleeping disorder such as insomnia, then intermittent fasting might not be the right weight loss solution for you.

#2 Excessive hunger

It should come as no surprise that hunger is one of the most common side effects related to intermittent fasting. When you reduce your caloric intake or go an extended period without eating any calories, you are likely to experience increased hunger levels.

However, as we mentioned earlier, there are ways to curb your appetite while in your fasted state, such as drinking herbal teas or practicing yoga. However, you are still getting extremely hungry during your fasting periods. You should perhaps consider another method of weight loss that does not involve any kind of fasting.

#3 Eating disorders

While intermittent fasting can be a fantastic weight-loss tool, it becomes problematic when it leads to eating disorders or even something more severe as malnutrition.

IF you engage in very long periods of fasting and do not replenish your body with sufficient nutrients, you could cause malnutrition in your body. The same goes for poorly planned continuous energy restriction diets.

As humans, we can generally meet our nutrient and caloric intakes based on a range of different fasting programs. But, if you do not plan and practice your fasting method carefully over a more extended period, or if you are deliberately restricting calories to an extreme level, you could cause yourself to become malnourished, along with other health complications.

This is why it is essential to ensure that you are eating a nutrition-rich, well-rounded diet while you practice intermittent fasting. Ensure that you are never over-restricting your caloric intake.

A Word From Our Nutritionist

Intermittent fasting can be a fantastic tool for losing weight and practicing mindful eating.

There’s a reason that it’s become so popular over the last few years – it’s an easy way to get into dieting and is also a low-maintenance way for your body to shed those excess pounds.

However, I can’t stress enough how important it is to ensure that you’re getting a good number of calories each day while consuming a balanced diet with plenty of foods from different food groups. If you don’t, you run the grave risk of depriving your body of the essential nutrients it needs to survive and function properly.

What’s more, if you are eating too few calories in a day, you could slow down your metabolism and halt your fat loss progress, which defeats the whole purpose of intermittent fasting.

Wrapping Up

The 16/8 intermittent fasting method is one of the most effective fasting methods globally and is also the easiest to follow. If you are looking to get into fasting, this is a great place to start. 

When you need a little more motivation to keep you going, the DoFasting app is a powerful tool that will help you stick to your weight loss goals through intermittent fasting.

HR_author_photo_Thalia
Written by
Thalia has always wanted to be a writer, starting her first local newspaper at the age of 11. She also has enjoyed a passion for health and fitness since a young age, playing many sports through her schooling career, and still enjoys biking, running, and swimming today. She studied English Language at University for 3 years, developing a passion for spelling, grammar, and research. She now has over 10 years of experience writing, proofreading, and editing, and has paired this with her love for health and fitness by writing health content.
Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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