Intermittent fasting is a health trend that has taken the world by storm. Many people swear by this approach to eating to help them lose weight, boost their metabolism, and possibly even help them live longer.
There are many different approaches to intermittent fasting. One is not necessarily more effective or better than the others. When choosing an intermittent fasting method, it really comes down to figuring out which one works well with your body and your schedule. Because intermittent fasting does require some planning and adjustments to your typical eating habits, you must find the time to sit down and do your research about this method of eating before diving into it.
To help you learn more about the different ways you can incorporate intermittent fasting into your life, let’s look at one of the most popular fasting methods: the 16/8.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Before we dive into the 16/8 method, let’s make sure we have the basics down. You may have heard the term intermittent fasting but may not know exactly what it means. If you are fasting at any time of the day, you are intermittent fasting. This term specifically refers to any set period of the day that you do not eat.
During the hours that you fast, you are allowed to have any zero-calorie drinks you would like. These include things like water, coffee, tea, sparkling water, or diet soda (though diet sodas are not typically encouraged on any diet plan). As long as you steer clear of any drinks with calories and all food during the fasting times, you are successfully intermittent fasting. You can also eat Fast Bars in between meals without breaking the fast. Use coupon code “PRIME” to get $10 off.
The Science Behind Intermittent Fasting
When people hear this term, they often think of people starving themselves. This is certainly not the case. The point of fasting is not to starve yourself and put your body into a potentially unsafe state. On the contrary, intermittent fasting is something that, when done responsibly, can boast some serious benefits for your body. Research done on rats has shown that intermittent fasting helped them lose weight, lower their blood pressure, lower their cholesterol, and improve their blood sugar. The testing that has been done on humans shows that intermittent fasting is highly effective, but some people question how much more effective it is than other approaches to dieting.
The secret to its effectiveness lies in the timing of the fast. We will get into that down below.
When you think about it, intermittent fasting does make sense. As explained by Harvard Health Publishing, “the food we eat is broken down by enzymes in our gut and eventually ends up as molecules in our bloodstream. Carbohydrates, particularly sugars and refined grains (think white flour and rice), are quickly broken down into sugar, which our cells use for energy. If our cells don’t use it all, we store it in our fat cells as, well, fat. But sugar can only enter our cells with insulin, a hormone made in the pancreas. Insulin brings the sugar into the fat cells and keeps it there.”
Between meals, as long as we don’t snack, our insulin levels will go down, and our fat cells can then release their stored sugar to be used as energy. If those insulin levels can go down far enough, you can burn off fat, which means you can lose weight.
What is the 16/8 Method?
As mentioned above, there are several different ways you can approach intermittent fasting. One of the most popular and most effective ways is called the 16/8 method.
The way this method works is that you fast every day for anywhere from 14-16 hours, and you only allow yourself to eat within an 8-10 hour window.
If you plan your meals correctly, you should still be able to get three full meals into that 8-10 hour window. Thus, you aren’t cutting back on how much you eat. Instead, you are simply changing the time in which you eat.
The key to finding success with this method is eating an early dinner and not allowing yourself any snacks or dessert before bed (except for tea, of course). If you finish your dinner at 8 p.m. and don’t eat anything until noon the next day, you have successfully fasted for 16 hours. It doesn’t sound so terrible, does it? Especially when you realize the majority of the time you’re fasting, you’ll be sleeping.
One of the things that we love about the 16/8 intermittent fasting method is that you don’t have to count calories or restrict the number of calories you are consuming. You can eat the same amount you’ve been eating (as long as it is in a healthy range for your body) – you simply limit the hours in which you eat those foods.
The Nutrition and Healthy Aging journal published a study on a group of people who tested out the 16/8 method for 12 weeks. Throughout the study, the group of adults who limited their eating to 8 hours resulted in eating fewer calories and lost more weight than those who did not restrict their eating window. And those who were consuming fewer calories were not doing so because they were counting their calories – it was simply because they were not as hungry in the 8 hour time frame they were allowed to eat.
However, this is one study, and it is important to note that more studies need to be done to determine the efficacy of this method of intermittent fasting.
How to Find Success With the 16/8 Method
Though you can technically eat whatever you want on the 16/8 diet and not have to make any calorie restrictions, filling your 8-hour eating window with a bunch of junk food is not going to give you any sort of lasting success.
To be successful in your 16/8 method and lose the weight you want to lose, you want to plan out your meals to all be a healthy balance of protein, fat, and carbs. The more real food you eat and the less processed snacks and treats you have during your 8 hour eating period, the better chance you’ll have at sticking to the 16/8 intermittent fasting diet and finding success with it.
In the beginning, it will be a bit of a struggle. Your stomach will growl, and you will be tempted to reach for snacks late at night and in the morning. However, when those pangs of hunger hit during your fasting period, grab some water, some tea, or some coffee to give you something to satiate you. We realize that water is not the same as a stack of pancakes for breakfast, but you’ve got to be willing to make a bit of a sacrifice and persevere.
Rather than jumping from zero to 100 and going from a normal eating schedule to fasting for 16 hours, consider slowly limiting your window of eating until you get to the 8 hours of the 16/8 method. Your approach to this diet is what will determine your level of success with it.
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The other key to weight loss with this diet is patience. Don’t expect to see results in a week, but you can expect to see results if you keep after it, stay consistent, and be patient.