Does the 16:8 diet really help you lose weight?
The 16:8 is an intermittent fasting diet that has a fairly simple premise. You eat in an 8-hour window and then fast for the remaining 16 hours of the day. Other than that, there are very few guidelines – simply eat ‘as normal’ in your 8-hour window.
As with many intermittent fasting diets, there are two main factors that contribute to weight loss. Firstly, the shorter food intake window means you are more likely to consume fewer calories. It will also eliminate common windows where people tend to eat excess empty calories, for example, late at night.
The other factor is that fasting can enhance hormone function. “Fasting can increase your metabolic rate, helping you burn more calories,” explains nutritionist Shannon Young. “Lower insulin and higher growth hormone levels, as well as an increased amount of the hormone Norepinephrine can result in the breakdown of body fat and facilitate its use for energy.”
Ultimately, the main upside of the 16:8 is that it’s easy to follow and more sustainable than other, more restrictive diets. “People tend to find the 16:8 approach much easier to follow than needing to limit daily calories for an extended period,” says Shannon.
It’s not 100% necessary to follow the diet every day, either. “Most people choose to do this every day and it becomes a long-term lifestyle rather than a diet, while others prefer to only do it a few days a week, while still seeing beneficial results,” says Shannon.
How do I get started?
You can choose whatever eight-hour window suits you best. If you’re a morning person who enjoys breakfast, you might prefer a 9am-5pm window. Simply have a snack or early dinner before you start fasting. Alternatively, if you prefer to eat later in the day, you might choose to skip breakfast and eat in a 12-8pm window. Eating right before bed is not generally recommended, so it’s best not to opt for a “late night” window.
Otherwise, there are no real “rules” on the 16:8 diet – although you should aim to have healthy, balanced meals in your fasting window. They’ll help sustain you throughout your fast and give you the nutrients you need!
It may also be beneficial to commit to the diet for a month to see if it works for you, then reassess. “It’s best to follow an intermittent fasting eating pattern for at least one month and then incorporate the new eating pattern into your lifestyle long term based on your personal needs and preferences,” advises Shannon.
It’s important to point out that the 16:8 diet is not right for everyone and you should always consult a health professional before starting out. “The 16:8 diet is not appropriate for those with conditions that require food at regular intervals due to metabolic changes caused by factors such as medication,” advises Shannon. “People with the following conditions should not follow an intermittent fasting diet: diabetes, eating disorders that involve unhealthy self-restriction (anorexia or bulimia nervosa), those taking medications that require food intake or those in an active growth stage, such as in adolescents and pregnant or breastfeeding women.”
As the saying goes, the best diet is the one you stick to. The 16:8 diet ultimately has this working in its favour. It’s a simple and flexible diet, so you can incorporate it into your lifestyle.