The 16:8 method (eight-hour diet) involves restricting eating for 8 hours a day, followed by a 16-hour fast. But how do you best implement the 16:8 diet? And for whom is intermittent fasting actually suitable?
If you like to eat everything, don’t like diet plans and restrictions, and sometimes go longer without meals, the 16:8 diet is ideal for you.
It is a variant of intermittent fasting, or interval fasting, and has helped many people lose weight.
This is how intermittent fasting works with the 16:8 method
There is an 8-hour window when all three meals should occur. During the remaining 16 hours, the body gets to rest – this is the fasting phase.
Experts also speak of an eight-hour diet, since you actually only fast for 8 of the 16 hours. The second half of the 16 hours of fasting is for sleeping.
The alternation of eating and fasting phases is carried out in the daily rhythm – this promotes fat burning overnight until the next meal.
In practice, this means eating very early in the evening and not having breakfast until very late. Or have the last meal of the day in the afternoon if you want to have breakfast very early in the morning. The main thing is that there are 16 hours between the last meal of the previous day and the first of the next day.
Of course, in the eight hours in which eating is allowed, masses of fat and sugar should not be consumed, but there are a lot of leeways. By the way: Even a moderate form, such as 14:10 or 15:9, can have positive effects on the body.
Experts also recommend boosting your metabolism in the morning, at the end of the fasting phase – preferably in the form of an exercise unit or workout.
This is what a day looks like during the 16:8 diet
Eat 8 hours, fast for 16 hours: In theory, that doesn’t sound that difficult at first. But in practice, this type of intermittent fasting is easier to implement than you might think.
It is most suitable for everyday life to have your first meal around 11 a.m. and then stop eating eight hours later. So you’re hungry again at noon and can have dinner around 7 p.m. Those who have breakfast later (around 12 p.m.) usually get by with two large meals throughout the day.
Before breaking the fast, it is permissible to drink water, unsweetened teas, and black coffee.
Are you a breakfast lover or do you find it difficult to leave the house in the morning without breakfast? No problem – this variant is also possible at 16:8. However, if you eat at 8 a.m., you have to bring “dinner” up to 4 p.m. accordingly.
Who is the 16:8 diet suitable for?
There are people who love dietary rules, like counting calories, and don’t mind giving up if they want to lose weight. None of this is required on the 16:8 diet. It is, therefore, suitable for people who…
- Enjoying food and not wanting to do without certain foods
maintain or lose weight
- have no time or desire to cook according to strict diet plans in their everyday lives
- want to fast for a short time
- Another advantage: 16:8 fasting is possible for all forms of nutrition from vegans to omnivores.
Who shouldn’t use the 16:8 method?
However, 16:8 intermittent fasting is not recommended for people who:
- have problems with the pancreas
- have thyroid dysfunction
- are severely overweight because the adrenal glands are overburdened. Experts recommend sticking to a low-carb diet first
- Diabetics should only fast under medical supervision
Other forms of intermittent fasting
- 5:2: Eat for five days, and fast for two days. The 5:2 method is suitable for anyone who finds it easier to only eat around 500 calories in two days than to eat little in the long run.
- Relief day: A gentle form of intermittent fasting in which you relieve your gastrointestinal tract once a week by either eating only vegetables or fruit or by having a complete juice day. On the relief day, it is also important that you drink enough – 3 to 4 liters is recommended.
Risks and disadvantages of intermittent fasting
The German Society for Nutrition (DGE) has spoken out very clearly against intermittent fasting such as the 16:8 diet: “The DGE does not consider intermittent fasting to be useful for regulating weight in the long term, as there are no specific recommendations for food selection. A change in diet towards a nutritionally favorable food selection does not usually take place.”
According to the DGE, the risk is that 16:8 part-fasters cannot really eat healthily during the eight hours, but may even use the 16 hours of fasting as an excuse to eat a lot of fats and carbohydrates during the eating window.
There is also the risk of developing so much appetite or hunger with the 8-hour diet that calories are then loaded unchecked.
However, recent studies indicate that fasting does not entail any health disadvantages – even if it is practiced over a longer period of time.
What can you eat on the 16:8 diet?
Basically, there are no regulations as to what can and cannot be eaten. It is important that healthy food ends up on the plate and in the breakfast bowls during the hours when people are eating.
The diet should consist mostly of fresh vegetables and fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and good fats.
- Colorful vegetables form the basis – the more colorful and varied, the better. Many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants are found in green leafy vegetables in particular: broccoli, spinach, savoy cabbage, kale, or chard.
- Cauliflower, beets, fennel, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, and salads are also perfect for adding volume to dishes while providing important micronutrients.
- Olive oil, chia seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts, fatty fish such as herring, sprat, or mackerel, and hemp oil also provide essential omega-3 fatty acids.
- Complex carbohydrates from starchy vegetables (e.g.: sweet potatoes, squash, or root vegetables), legumes, whole grains, and pseudo-cereals such as quinoa or buckwheat have a satiating effect than products made from white flour and also provide a good portion of the fiber.
- Protein can be pulled from legumes, fish, eggs, yogurt, and low-fat meat.
- Spices such as cinnamon, cumin, and turmeric, and other power foods such as ginger, also activate the metabolism.
Alcohol and sweets are generally permitted with the 16:8 variant, but should only be consumed as an exception and not on a daily basis.
No solid food may be eaten during the fasting windows, otherwise the fast will be broken. Unsweetened tea or water is of course allowed without exception and black coffee is also okay.
Latte macchiato and cappuccino must be avoided during the fasting phase. If you absolutely do not want to drink your coffee black, you can add a small shot of milk. It is best to use plant drinks with few carbohydrates, for example, coconut milk, hemp drinks, or unsweetened almond drinks.
A trick against a little morning slump: a cup of coffee with a mini shot of unsweetened almond milk and a cardamom pod. The essential oils taste pleasantly fresh and hunger is curbed.
Intermittent fasting nutrition FAQs
- How long does it take to lose weight on the 16:8 diet?
In the beginning, you lose weight relatively quickly if you don’t eat more meals in a shorter time. As with any diet, if you are in a calorie deficit for longer, you will lose weight. The sport factor also plays a role: the more muscle mass you have, the higher your basal metabolic rate.
- Can you eat whatever you want during intermittent fasting?
Theoretically yes. But because of the health benefits, a healthy diet is recommended, with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, fiber, and valuable ingredients. With intermittent fasting, you shouldn’t eat during a specific time that you set.
- Are sweets allowed during intermittent fasting?
Yes, sweets are allowed. You can eat and drink anything you want. However, make sure that you have a healthy basis so that your body receives all the important nutrients and ingredients.