Intermittent fasting is a dietary approach that alternates between periods of eating and fasting. The 16/8 method is one of the most popular and straightforward types of intermittent fasting. It involves fasting for 16 hours daily and restricting your eating window to 8 hours. This means you consume all your daily calories for 8 hours and abstain from eating for the remaining 16 hours.
Here’s an explanation of the 16/8 method for a complete beginner:
- Choose Your Fasting Window: With the 16/8 method, you can choose the 8-hour window during which you’ll eat your meals. The most common approach is to skip breakfast and start the fasting period after dinner. For example, you might eat from 12:00 PM to 8:00 PM and fast from 8:00 PM to 12:00 PM the next day. This is my first time on any diet really and my eating window starts at 6pm, then I have another meal 8pm ish. I may consume some more calories into the night in the form of red wine. I have been doing this for around two weeks and it is working well.
- Stay Hydrated During Fasting: While fasting, it’s essential to stay hydrated by drinking water, herbal teas, or black coffee. These beverages are calorie-free and won’t break your fast. I start the day with a pint of water infused with fresh ginger and turmeric, once it’s boiled I squeeze in the juice of a lemon. I make enough for two days worth, then another 2 pints of water through the day. At around 5pm I pour about 4tsp of apple cider vinegar in my glass and then fill it with water to a pint. I take this to help with the digestion of my upcoming meals.
- Plan Nutritious Meals: During your 8-hour eating window, focus on eating balanced and nutritious meals that include a mix of protein, healthy fats, vegetables, and whole grains. This helps ensure you get the necessary nutrients within the limited eating period. I am sensitive to most grains except, barley rye and borage oats so its a new journey for me. Basically its looking like a keto intermittent fasting lifestyle after my food sensitivity test results.
- Control Portion Sizes: Since you have only 8 hours to eat, you must be mindful of portion sizes and avoid excessive calorie intake. Intermittent fasting is not a licence to indulge in unhealthy or excessive foods during the eating window. Currently I am not calorie counting but if my BMI and body fat stops reducing I will have to reconsider it. However, I have actually started to eat more and the weight is around the same. I used to be full quiet quickly probably because of my high sensitivity. When I did the kids a chicken curry I would take a large chicken breast, slice the end of for me and the rest was for the 2 kids. Just a couple of weeks ago I managed to eat a full chicken breast to myself over 2 meals.
- Be Flexible: The beauty of intermittent fasting is that it can be flexible and adjusted to fit your lifestyle. You can shift the eating window based on your daily schedule or social commitments. As long as you maintain the 16-hour fasting period, you can adapt the eating window to suit your needs.
- Start Gradually: If you’re new to intermittent fasting, consider starting slowly and gradually lengthening your fasting period. You might begin with a 12/12 fasting approach (fasting for 12 hours and eating within a 12-hour window) and then gradually progress to 14/10 or 16/8 as you become more comfortable. I unknowingly started gradually because the bloat of my belly was getting worse overtime which meant I never really felt hungry throughout the day.
- Listen to Your Body: Intermittent fasting may not suit everyone, and some may experience side effects like headaches, fatigue, or dizziness. If you feel unwell or uncomfortable during fasting, it’s essential to stop and consult with a healthcare professional. For me so far so good, I have plenty of energy throughout the day and no side effects as yet. In fact I have started doing a 10 minute exercise routine on Apple + fitness before I eat.
How Do You Lose Weight on The Intermittent Fasting Eating Plan
- Reduced Caloric Intake: Intermittent fasting helps limit the eating window, which often reduces overall calorie intake. When you have a shorter period to eat, consuming the same number of calories you might typically eat throughout the day can be more challenging. This caloric deficit can result in weight loss over time.
- Improved Insulin Sensitivity: Intermittent fasting can improve insulin sensitivity, which is how effectively your body responds to insulin. Improved insulin sensitivity helps regulate blood sugar levels and reduces the risk of developing insulin resistance. Lower insulin levels can also promote the breakdown of stored body fat for energy, aiding in weight loss.
- Increased Fat Burning: During fasting periods, especially when glycogen (stored glucose) levels are depleted, the body relies more on stored fat for energy. This increased fat utilisation can contribute to weight loss.
- Enhanced Hormonal Response: Intermittent fasting can lead to changes in hormone levels, including increased release of norepinephrine and growth hormone. These hormonal changes can support fat-burning and metabolism.
- Reduction of Emotional and Mindless Eating: By setting specific eating windows, intermittent fasting can help some people develop a more structured relationship with food. It may reduce emotional eating or snack out of habit rather than hunger.
- Preservation of Lean Muscle Mass: Intermittent fasting, when combined with a balanced diet and appropriate exercise, can help preserve lean muscle mass while promoting fat loss. This is essential for maintaining a healthy metabolism.
- Simplified Eating Patterns: Intermittent fasting can simplify meal planning and preparation since you eat fewer daily meals. This simplicity makes it easier for some individuals to adhere to their dietary goals.
The Role Of Ketosis
Ketosis is a metabolic state that occurs when the body is primarily fueled by ketones, produced from the breakdown of fats, rather than glucose from carbohydrates. This state is induced by deficient carbohydrate intake, moderate protein intake, and higher consumption of fats. Ketosis plays a significant role in some fasting diets, particularly those with an extended fasting period or a very low-carbohydrate eating approach.
In the context of intermittent fasting, ketosis can be relevant in the following ways:
- Enhanced Fat Burning: During periods of fasting, especially during extended fasts or when following a low-carbohydrate diet, the body’s glucose reserves become depleted. As a result, the body starts breaking down fats to produce ketones for energy. This increased reliance on fat for fuel can lead to more effective fat burning and contribute to weight loss.
- Appetite Suppression: Ketosis has been associated with appetite suppression, which may help individuals adhere to their fasting schedule and reduce overall calorie intake.
- Steady Energy Levels: Ketosis provides an endless supply of energy from fats, which can lead to improved energy levels and mental clarity for some individuals.
- Improved Insulin Sensitivity: Following a low-carbohydrate approach or entering ketosis may improve insulin sensitivity, potentially benefiting individuals with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes.
It’s important to note that while intermittent fasting can be effective for weight loss in many individuals, it may not work the same way for everyone. Weight loss is a complex process influenced by individual factors such as metabolism, activity levels, age, and overall health. Additionally, the food quality consumed during the eating window is crucial for overall health and successful weight management. I cook 99% of my meals from scratch and as I explore the new diet I will share the recipes on Cheap Dinner Ideas.
For optimal results, it’s essential to pair intermittent fasting with a balanced and nutritious diet, regular physical activity, and a lifestyle that supports your weight loss goals. Before starting any weight loss or dietary program, it’s always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or concerns.
Follow my journey as I start my journey of getting healthy in my fifties.
The Mayo Clinic Intermittent fasting here
BUPA Intermittent fasting here