Intermittent fasting: What is the 16:8 diet – and how can it help you lose weight?

Intermittent fasting is one of the popular ways used by people to lose weight. One such diet plan is called 16:8, which has been endorsed by celebrities and nutritionists alike – here’s what you need to know

Woman weighing herself
The 16:8 diet helps you burn fat and lose weight

When it comes to popular diets, the 5:2 diet has received a lot of attention. An equally popular but much less restrictive diet plan is the 16:8 diet.

The 5:2 diet popularised by diet guru Michael Mosley, has dieters eating normally for five days of the week and restricting calories to 500-600 per day for the remaining two days.

Meanwhile, the 16:8 diet, popularised like celebs like Jennifer Aniston and Hugh Jackman, focuses on helping people lose weight by reducing the amount of time they have available to eat.

Here’s what you need to know about the 16:8 diet including how it works and the best foods to eat.

What is the 16:8 diet?

People consume water or unsweetened drinks in the first 16 hours of the day


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The 16:8 diet is a form of intermittent fasting in which you break the day into two periods consisting of 16 hours and eight hours.

Under this diet, people will fast for 16 hours in a day – consuming only things like water, unsweetened soft drinks or drinks without milk – and then consume all their calories for the day during the remaining 8 hours.

There are no restrictions regarding the types of amounts of food you can consume during the eight-hour period.

The diet has been designed to works fast, with the longer fasting period intended to give the body the time it needs to process food and burn away extra fat.

What food can you eat on the 16:8 diet?

While the 16:8 doesn’t place any restrictions on what you can eat, it’s still important to choose whole foods and ones that are high in vitamin content.

Some of the foods that are best to consume on the 16:8 diet are:

  • Whole grains like rice, oats, barley, wholegrain pasta and quinoa
  • Protein such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds
  • Fruits like apples, bananas, berries, oranges and pears
  • Veggies like broccoli, spinach as well as other leafy greens
  • Healthy fats such as olive oil, coconut oil, avocados

How does the 16:8 diet work?

The best foods to consume including fruits, veggies and high-protein foods


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The 16:8 diet works on an hourly basis, which means you eat within an eight-hour time frame and then fast for the remaining 16 hours of the day.

This kind of diet plan helps with weight loss by helping you eat fewer calories and also boosting metabolism. After several hours without food, your body exhausts its sugar reserves and starts burning fat, in a process called “metabolic switching.”

This is a natural process, which happens when the body runs out of energy given by food. When this happens, the body starts drawing energy from ketones stored in the fat cells, which helps us lose weight.

The 16:8 diet also helps speed up your metabolism, by causing a rise in a stress hormone called norepinephrine, which makes larger amounts of fat available for your body to burn.

When your metabolic rate is faster, it means you burn calories by doing even basic activities like sitting down, eating and sleeping. However, exercising while intermittent fasting is also encouraged to help build muscle mass.

If you’re considering losing weight you should consult a GP, who can give you advice.

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