By now, you’ve probably heard from someone you know about how ‘intermittent fasting’ is changing their life for the better. This might have also been followed by a series of confusing numbers or letters as they explain exactly what kind of fasting they’re doing – but what does it all mean? Well, most likely they were talking about the 16/8 method or one its many variations.
The 16/8 fasting program, also known as leangains fasting, is a form of intermittent fasting made popular by weight loss and fitness expert Martin Berkhan. The basic principle behind 16/8 fasting is that you fast for 16-hours and then have an eight-hour ‘feasting window.’
Starting 16/8 fasting is one of the easiest ways to get started on intermittent fasting as it normally involves simply skipping breakfast, eating healthily from 12 pm onwards, and stopping eating at 8 pm.
This makes it perfect for beginners and an easy fasting system to fit into many routines or lifestyles. So, if you’re trying to lose weight or are interested in the wider health benefits of fasting, read on to find out if 16/8 fasting is right for you.
How Does 16/8 Fasting Work?
As with any form of fasting, 16/8 works by restricting the period of time during which you can eat. The 16/8 part of the program comes from the fact that you eat all your meals during an eight-hour period and fast for the remaining 16-hours.
During the fasting period, the body uses the easily available glucose stored in the liver as fuel. Once that glucose has been burned up, the body starts to eat into its fat reserves to fuel itself, resulting in weight loss.
It takes around 10 to 12 hours for the glucose stores in the liver to be consumed, so each 16-hour fasting period includes 4 to 6 fours where the body is turning fat into fuel.
As with any new diet, there are pros and cons to intermittent fasting. However, if done consistently, the health benefits can outweigh most of the difficulties in getting used to this new approach to eating.
What Are the Benefits of 16/8 Fasting?
The primary benefit associated with 16/8 fasting is weight loss. However, multiple studies have shown that there are other health benefits the can be accessed through fasting, including:
- A stabilization in blood sugar levels
- Increased resistance to stress
- Suppression of the inflammation response
- Decreased blood pressure
- Lowered cholesterol levels
- Improved resting heart rate
- Improved brain health and memory function
- Increased levels of energy during the day
While 16/8 fasting isn’t a miracle diet that will cure all your ailments and still make you lose weight, it easy to adopt for an intermittent fasting beginner, easy to stick to, and its benefits are backed up by medical science.
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What Are the Downsides of 16/8 Fasting?
Any new diet is going to take some adjusting to and 16/8 fasting is no different. During the first two weeks to a month, 16/8 fasting does have some drawbacks, including:
- Increased hunger pangs
- Feelings of lethargy and irritability
- Sudden cravings
- A reduction in energy levels
You might also find you need to change your workout and exercise routines to adapt to your new fasting periods. It can also be difficult to eat and drink socially, as these events tend to happen outside the 12 pm to 8 pm window most 16/8 fasters use.
However, after the first two weeks, most of the physical downsides fade away to be replaced by a feeling of being more energized during the day.
Is 16/8 Fasting Right for Me?
When it comes to dieting, 16/8 fasting is easy to implement, can be adjusted to fit into your lifestyle, is easy to stick too and has more benefits than just weight loss. So, if you’re interested in feeling brighter, more energized, and less bloated, as well as dropping a pound or two, 16/8 fasting might be entirely right for you!