What Is 16/8 Intermittent Fasting? A Beginner’s Guide


Intermittent fasting involves limiting your daily food intake to a certain window of time. It has gained popularity as a means of losing weight and enhancing general health. Knowing what to consume during intermittent fasting will help with weight loss.

Fasting is a significant custom in many different religions and civilizations around the world, having been done for thousands of years.

This ancient tradition is given a modern twist by new types of fasting.

16/8 intermittent fasting is one of the most well-liked methods of fasting.

Its proponents contend that it’s a simple, practical, and long-term approach to reduce weight and enhance general health.

This article explains how to do 16/8 intermittent fasting and whether it’s right for you.

What is 16/8 intermittent fasting?

The intermittent fasting technique known as 16/8 entails restricting your daily meal and beverage consumption to a window of 8 hours.You are not allowed to eat for sixteen hours, but you are allowed to consume water and other calorie-free beverages like coffee or black tea.

This cycle can be repeated as often as you’d like, ranging from once or twice a week to every day, depending on your schedule.

This form of fasting has become increasingly popular with people who want to burn fat and reduce weight. Additionally, 16/8 intermittent fasting is thought to lengthen life and improve blood sugar regulation.

While other diets have a lot of rules, 16/8 intermittent fasting is easy to follow and can yield quantifiable outcomes with little to no diet disturbance. It fits into most lifestyles and is often thought to be less restrictive and more flexible than many other diets.

Meal plan and getting started

This is what you need to know to do 16/8 intermittent fasting.

Choosing a time window

Choose an 8-hour timeframe and restrict your food intake to that window of time to get started.

Popular 16/8 time windows include:

  • 7am to 3pm
  • 9am. to 5pm
  • 12pm to 8pm
  • 2pm to 10pm

Many people prefer to eat between noon and 8pm, since you need to fast only overnight and skip breakfast but can still eat a balanced lunch and dinner, along with a few snacks throughout the day.

Others opt to eat between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., which allows plenty of time for a healthy breakfast around 9 a.m., a standard lunch around noon, and a light, early dinner or large snack around 4:30 p.m. before starting your fast.

You can experiment, though, to find the window of time that works best for you.

To assist you remember when to start and stop eating, it could be helpful to set timers for the beginning and end of your eating window.

Meal plan with list of foods

During your eating intervals, it’s critical to consume nutrient-dense whole foods and beverages to optimize the possible health advantages of your diet.

Eating a diet high in nutrients will help you maintain a healthy weight and balance out your diet. Consider including a range of whole foods in each meal to create a balance, such as:

  • Fruits include tomatoes, pears, apples, bananas, berries, oranges, peaches, and peaches.
  • Vegetables, such as leafy greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and cucumbers.
  • Whole grains: barley, buckwheat, quinoa, rice, oats, etc.
  • Healthy fats: olive oil and avocados
  • Sources of protein include fish, eggs, meat, poultry, legumes, nuts, and seeds.

Drinking calorie-free beverages like water and unsweetened tea and coffee, even while fasting, also helps control your appetite while keeping you hydrated.

The majority of frozen dinners, packaged snacks, deep-fried foods, and sugary drinks are examples of highly processed foods that should be avoided. The benefits of 16/8 intermittent fasting are offset by these.

Advantages of 16/8 sporadic fasting

Convenience is one of the key benefits of 16/8 intermittent fasting. It can reduce the amount of money and time you must spend each week on food preparation and cooking.

Increased weight loss

Limiting the amount of time you spend eating to a few hours each day will help you consume fewer calories overall, which may help you lose weight.

In fact, studies suggest that fasting may promote weight loss.

For instance, a review discovered that participants in 11 out of 13 research on intermittent fasting experienced statistically significant weight loss.

Enhanced regulation of blood sugar

It has been demonstrated that intermittent fasting lowers blood sugar and fasting insulin levels, which may lower your chance of developing diabetes.

Increased longevity

Although there is little evidence pertaining to humans, certain animal research suggests that periodic fasting may increase lifespan.

It’s thought that fasting affects metabolic pathways, improves insulin sensitivity, and leads to behavioral changes that together may lengthen your lifespan. However, these mechanisms aren’t fully understood

Drawbacks of 16/8 intermittent fasting

Although 16/8 intermittent fasting is associated with several health benefits, it has a few side effects and may not be right for everyone.

Make sure you begin your fasting program gradually, and if you have any worries or encounter bad symptoms, think about halting or seeing your doctor.

Overeating and potential weight gain

Some people may overeat during eating periods if their intake is limited to 8 hours per day, hoping to make up for the hours they spent fasting. Unhealthy eating habits, digestion issues, and weight gain could result from this.

It’s interesting to note that existing data doesn’t support the idea that intermittent fasting promotes weight loss any more than standard diets that call for total calorie restriction. A small amount of weight reduction may result from either eating style.

If losing weight is your main objective, you might therefore opt to avoid the overeating that might happen when limiting intake to a specific time frame by consuming less calories, exercising more, eating more whole foods, or getting enough sleep rather than intermittent fasting.

Furthermore, weight loss can happen while fasting, but it’s typical to gain the weight back when you resume your regular eating schedule.

Short-term physical symptoms

When you first start 16/8 intermittent fasting, you may experience short-term negative side effects including hunger, weakness, and exhaustion; however, they usually go away after you establish a habit.

Menstrual cycles and hormonal fluctuations

Intermittent fasting has been linked to undereating and hormonal abnormalities in animals, according to some study. These alterations may have a detrimental impact on menstrual periods and fertility in those who have ovaries.

Nevertheless, the majority of research is outdated and was done on animals. Human studies are needed to fully understand how intermittent fasting may affect reproductive health.

Moreover, postmenopausal people could react differently to intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting may help address the weight gain and decreased insulin sensitivity that are associated with menopausal changes.

Is intermittent fasting 16/8 appropriate for you?

It is true that when combined with a balanced diet and active lifestyle, 16/8 intermittent fasting can be a safe, simple, and long-lasting strategy to improve your health.

It shouldn’t be seen as a replacement for a well-balanced diet full of entire foods, either. Furthermore, if you don’t practice intermittent fasting, you can still be in excellent health.

Though 16/8 intermittent fasting is generally considered safe for healthy adults, you should talk with your doctor if you have any underlying health conditions.This is crucial if you have diabetes, low blood pressure, a history of disordered eating, or are currently taking any drugs.

Additionally, if you are nursing a baby, attempting to conceive, or are pregnant, intermittent fasting is not advised.

If you have any concerns or experience any side effects while fasting, be sure to consult your doctor.

The bottom line

The practice of 16/8 intermittent fasting involves eating only during an 8-hour daily window and fasting for the remaining 16 hours.

It might improve blood sugar regulation, weight loss, and longevity.

Nonetheless, it’s imperative to maintain a nutritious diet during the feeding phase and consume calorie-free liquids like water, unsweetened teas, and coffee during the fasting phase.

Before attempting intermittent fasting, it is advisable to see your doctor, particularly if you have any underlying medical concerns.

One of the most well-liked health and fitness fads in the world right now is intermittent fasting (IF).

It is being used by people to simplify their lives, reduce weight, and enhance their health.

Numerous studies indicate that it may even lengthen your life and have profound impacts on your body and brain.

This is the best intermittent fasting guide for beginners.

What is intermittent fasting (IF)?

Intermittent fasting (IF) is a pattern of eating in which periods of fasting and periods of eating alternate.

It outlines when you should eat certain foods rather than which ones.

In this way, it’s better to refer to it as an eating pattern rather than a diet in the traditional sense.

Two common strategies of intermittent fasting are to fast for 16 hours every day or for 24 hours twice a week.

Fasting has been a practice throughout human evolution. The hunter-gatherers of ancient times did not have year-round access to food, supermarkets, or refrigerators. There were moments when they had nothing to eat.

Humans thus evolved the capacity to go for extended periods of time without eating.

In actuality, intermittent fasting is more natural than consuming three to four meals a day, or more.

In many religious and spiritual traditions, such as Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Buddhism, fasting is also practiced for these reasons.

Intermittent fasting methods

Intermittent fasting can be done in a variety of ways, but they all entail dividing the day or week into eating and fasting times.

You either eat nothing at all or very little during the fasting periods.

These are the most popular methods:

  • The 16/8 method: Also called the Leangains protocol, it involves skipping breakfast and restricting your daily eating period to 8 hours, such as 1–9 p.m. You then observe a 16-hour fast in between.
  • Eat-Stop-Eat: This is depriving yourself of food for a full day, usually once or twice a week. For instance, you could skip dinner one day and not eat anything till the next day.
  • The 5:2 diet is eating regularly for the other five days of the week and consuming only 500–600 calories on two nonconsecutive days.

All of these strategies should help you lose weight by cutting calories, provided you don’t overeat during mealtimes to make up for it.

Many people find the 16/8 method to be the simplest, most sustainable and easiest to stick to. It’s also the most popular.

How it affects your cells and hormones

Your body experiences a number of cellular and molecular changes during a fast.

For instance, your body modifies hormone levels to increase the accessibility of stored body fat.

Additionally, your cells alter gene expression and start critical repair processes.

Your body goes through the following changes when you fast:

  • Growth Hormone (HGH) in Humans: Growth hormone levels soar, sometimes tripling in magnitude.
  • This has benefits for fat loss and muscle gain, to name a fewInsulin: Insulin sensitivity improves and levels of insulin drop dramatically.Reduced insulin levels increase the body’s ability to reach stored fat.
  • Cellular repair: Your cells start the process of repairing themselves when you fast. This includes autophagy, a process by which cells break down and eliminate accumulated, faulty proteins from within the cell.
  • Gene expression: Genes linked to longevity and immunity to disease have altered functions.

The advantages of intermittent fasting for health are caused by these modifications in hormone levels, cell function, and gene expression.
A very powerful weight loss tool

Weight loss is the most common reason for people to try intermittent fasting.

An automatic reduction in calorie intake might result from intermittent fasting, which forces you to consume fewer meals.

Intermittent fasting also modifies hormone levels to promote weight loss.

It also raises growth hormone levels, decreases insulin, and boosts the production of norepinephrine, or noradrenaline, a hormone that burns fat.

A brief fast may produce these hormonal changes, which can raise your metabolic rate by 3.6-24%.

Intermittent fasting alters both sides of the calorie equation, assisting you in eating less and burning more.

Research indicates that sporadic fasting can be a very effective strategy for losing weight.

A 2014 review study found that this eating pattern can cause 3–8% weight loss over 3–24 weeks, which is a significant amount, compared to most weight loss studies.

According to the same study, people also lost 4–7% of their waist circumference, indicating a significant loss of harmful belly fat that builds up around your organs and causes disease.

Another 2011 study showed that intermittent fasting causes less muscle loss than the more standard method of continuous calorie restriction.

But remember, the major reason it works is because intermittent fasting makes you consume less calories overall. You could not lose any weight at all if you binge and eat a lot throughout your eating times.

Advantages for health

Intermittent fasting has been extensively studied in both humans and animals.

According to this research, it can have significant advantages for maintaining your bodily and mental health as well as controlling your weight. It might even prolong your life.

Here are the main health benefits of intermittent fasting:

  • Weight loss: As mentioned above, intermittent fasting can help you lose weight and belly fat, without having to consciously restrict calories.
  • Insulin resistance: By reducing blood sugar by 3-6% and fasting insulin levels by 20-31%, intermittent fasting can mitigate insulin resistance and help prevent type 2 diabetes.
  • Inflammation: A number of chronic diseases are largely caused by reduced levels of inflammation, which is indicated by certain research.
  • Heart health: Blood triglycerides, insulin resistance, inflammatory indicators, blood sugar, and “bad” LDL cholesterol may all be lowered by intermittent fasting. These conditions are risk factors for heart disease.
  • Cancer: Research on animals suggests that sporadic fasting could be a cancer preventive measure.
  • Brain health: Intermittent fasting may promote the development of new nerve cells by raising the brain hormone BDNF. Additionally, it might guard against Alzheimer’s.
  • Anti-aging: Intermittent fasting can extend lifespan in rats. Studies showed that fasted rats lived 36–83% longer.

Remember that research is still in its infancy. A large number of the research were tiny, had short durations, or involved animals. Extensive unanswered questions remain in higher quality human research.

Makes your healthy lifestyle simpler

Eating healthy is simple, but it can be incredibly hard to maintain.

The amount of work involved in organizing and preparing nutritious meals is one of the biggest challenges.

Since you don’t have to prepare, cook, or clean up after as many meals as you used to, intermittent fasting can make life easier.

This is why intermittent fasting is so well-liked by the life-hacker community, since it simultaneously simplifies life and enhances health.

Who should be careful or avoid it?

Intermittent fasting is certainly not for everyone.

You should always get medical advice before beginning a fast if you are underweight or have a history of eating issues.

In certain situations, it may even be dangerous.

Should women fast?

There is contradictory research suggesting that women may not benefit from intermittent fasting as much as males do.

For instance, a 2005 study revealed that while it decreased women’s blood sugar control, it increased men’s sensitivity to insulin.

Numerous anecdotal accounts exist of women whose menstrual cycles halted when they began conducting intermittent fasting (IF) and restarted normally when they resumed their usual eating schedule.

IF can, however, aid with fertility and hormone levels as well as improve indices of metabolic health in patients living with PCOS, according to research done on overweight or obese women.

However, studies have shown that IF can negatively impact reproductive health and performance in athletes and normal-weight women. This is primarily because of inadequate caloric intake.

These factors make women cautious when it comes to sporadic fasting. Overall, there is a dearth of long-term data and relatively little research. Before we truly comprehend the ramifications, more investigation is required.

Women should adhere to different rules, such as starting slowly and quitting right away if they experience any issues, such as amenorrhea (lack of menstruation). Consult a physician or dietician if you’re thinking about IF to determine if it’s a good fit for you.

Safety and side effects

The primary adverse effect of intermittent fasting is hunger.

Not only could your brain not function as effectively as it used to, but you can also feel weak.

Your body may need some time to adjust to the new eating plan, therefore this can just be a temporary situation.

Before attempting intermittent fasting, you should speak with your doctor if you have any medical conditions.

This is particularly important if you:

  • Have diabetes.
  • Have problems with blood sugar regulation.
  • Have low blood pressure.
  • Take medications.
  • Are underweight.
  • Have a history of eating disorders.
  • Are a lady attempting to become pregnant.
  • Has a woman suffered from amenorrhea in the past?

Are nursing or expecting a child.

Having said all of that, intermittent fasting has an excellent safety record. A temporary fast does not pose any risk if you are generally well-nourished and in good health.


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