How To Do The 16/8 Intermittent Fasting Method
The Intermittent Fasting 16/8 Method (or Leangains)
There are many different ways of doing intermittent fasting. Many people find the 16/8 method to be the easiest, most sustainable and simplest to stick to. It’s also the most popular. It involves skipping breakfast and restricting your daily eating period to 8 hours, like 12-8 like I do. Then you fast for 16 hours in between. Basically it’s just skipping one meal!
16 hours (14 for women) is thought to be the magic number when it comes to reaping the numerous intermittent fasting benefits.
Some people only eat in a 6-hour window, or even a 4-hour window. This is “feasting” and “fasting” parts of your days and the most common form of intermittent fasting.
It fits pretty seamlessly into most lifestyles, seeing as how you can choose to skip either breakfast or dinner, depending on your personal preferences. Also, you’re sleeping during a good part of the fasting window, which makes it easier. Noticeably, this schedule skips breakfast and AM snack.
Did you know that there’s a great deal of research that states that skipping breakfast can help you reach your maximum human performance, improve both your mental and physical health, maximize muscle retention, and lose body fat at the same time?
The 16/8 principle is flexible enough to be overlapped with any other diet. It’s important to try to limit carbs as they tend to cause cravings. Try to avoid pasta, bread, cereal, rice, potatoes, and fruit juices in order to have the most success. It’s absolutely essential to consume a sensible amount of healthy food during that window because if you eat junk or too many calories, fasting for weight loss will all be in vain.
This is the way I fast. I think it’s the most natural way to go about intermittent fasting, as it’s pretty much effortless.
If you’re the type of person that feels hungry in the morning and enjoys eating breakfast, this method of eating may take some getting used to. But, if you are a regular breakfast skipper, you’re most likely instinctively fasting like this without even realizing it.
The 16/8 Method is the Most Popular
Over the years, this particular fasting method has grown in popularity. Amongst the most devoted followers are those looking to lose weight.
This is because intermittent fasting can effortless reduce your calorie intake and produce weight loss.
This is as long as you can keep your meal portions unchanged and don’t compensate for the lack of meal by eating more.
Some Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Improves blood sugar levels, better brain functions, and longevity to name a few.
Because intermittent fasting is free from food-based rules and limitations, it’s virtually effortless.
It’s easy to follow, hassle-free, and requires minimal effort. If you’ve been thinking of starting intermittent fasting, the 16/8 fasting is a good place to start.
Below is a 1-day sample 16/8 fasting schedule to get started.
Other 16/8 Fasting Benefits
- It’s easy for beginners to adopt.
- It’s efficient at helping you remain in a caloric deficit and therefore lose weight.
- It helps prevent snacking, which allows you to ‘fix’ your hungry cues.
- You get to eat balanced, fulfilling meals during your eating window so that you feel satisfied and not like you’re on a ‘diet’.
- A lot of people either skip breakfast or fast for 12+ hours anyway.
- It helps mental clarity.
- You’re not always thinking about food, which leads to you being more productive during your fasting hours, particularly in the morning.
- It’s easy to stick to.
- It’s not an extreme lifestyle change.
The main benefit to the 16/8 fasting split is that it’s really easy for people to implement into their lives.
Most people already skip breakfast so just need to put a slightly more regimented eating schedule in place. All you have to do is hold off on anything other than water or black coffee until lunch time and you’re golden.
Or, if you get hungrier earlier in the day, have your lunch around 10am and dinner at 6pm. As long as you’re eating the correct amount of proteins, fats, calories, and fibre, and drinking enough water, you shouldn’t feel hungry.
The easier an eating schedule is to slot into your life, the more likely you’ll be to stick to it and therefore lose weight long-term.
16/8 Intermittent Fasting Tips
- If you already skip breakfast, you don’t need to change anything. Don’t try and force a change that feels unnatural to you because it’s less likely to be sustainable for your lifestyle. Simply skip breakfast, eat lunch when you’re hungry and fit your eight-hour eating window around that.
- Drink plenty of water when you’re fasting to prevent you from getting tired if you’re not used to fasting. Drink black coffee if you’re struggling.
- Keep yourself busy during your fasting hours – you’ll be surprised how productive you can be.
- If after a few weeks you are still struggling with hunger outside of your eating window, your calories may be too low. Make sure you’re not eating at too large of a caloric deficit.
- Check you’re getting enough protein. If you’re weightlifting 5+ times a week, the general consensus in the fitness community is that you should be getting 0.8g of protein per 1 lb of bodyweight. If you don’t lift weights, you won’t need as much as this.
- Make sure you’re getting enough fat. Fat is essential for brain function, mental health and hormones in women. It also helps you feel satisfied after a meal. Women especially should be getting 44g – 77g of fat per day. Try to get these fats in the way of avocado, olive oil, coconut oil and nuts.
- If you’re not used to working out while fasted, take it easy during your first week of fasting. However, after that you should be fine. Personally, I prefer working out fasted – both weightlifting AND cardio.
- Stay in a caloric deficit. One of the reasons intermittent fasting is so good for weight loss is that it allows you to remain in a caloric deficit (the real ‘secret’ to weight loss) while enjoying foods you enjoy.
For example, if you plan to eat 1700 calories a day, it’s much easier to be flexible with your diet and eat more calorie-dense foods when you’re trying to fit all of these into just three meals over eight hours. This stops you from feeling as if you’re ‘dieting’ and makes it easier to stick to.
However, you do still need to be in a caloric deficit in order to lose weight.
9. Eat fewer meals. Try to eat just two or three meals during your eight-hour window. This will mean eating more calories during your meals, leaving you more satisfied than if you were just snacking all day.
10. Although this step isn’t crucial, try fasting for at least four hours after you wake up before starting your eating window. Overnight and the morning are supposed to be the optimal fasting times but, honestly, I wouldn’t worry about this too much.
Throughout your fast, drink lots of water and black coffee or tea. This will not only help you remain hydrated, but it will also help reduce any hunger pangs that you might experience while fasting.
Because I stick to a ketogenic diet and barely consume carbs, my appetite is somewhat suppressed. Usually, I don’t feel that hungry until around 1ish in the afternoon, so that’s when I’ll begin my eating window.
Why this type of fasting is so appealing is because of its simplicity. All you have to do is eat within an 8 hour period to see results!
I typically make my last meal of the day between 6-9 in the evening, which means that I can end up fasting from anywhere between 16 and 19 hours on a daily basis.
When combined with proper nutrition, regular exercise, and a complete plan, your weight loss results can increase dramatically!
Some Common Questions
How do I start 16/8?
Slowly. Most people eat over a 14-hour window, so shrinking suddenly to just eight hours will likely be jarring. Experts suggest beginning with a 12/12 schedule — for example, having dinner by 8 pm then breakfasting at 8am — and slowly shortening the eating window as you adjust.
Hour by hour, every day or every week, is ideal to get the swing of it.
In those early stages of 16/8, brace for hunger and its notorious side-effects: lightheadedness, dizziness, nausea, moodiness. They might be enough to rule out fasting, especially if you have a very physically or mentally demanding job.
How do I exercise on the 16/8 diet?
This is a very common concern for people starting the 16/8 fast. Typically those in the habit of exercising before most people wake up.
You can adjust your exercise to match your fasting window. For example, exercising right before you break your fast, or exercising within your eating window, or towards the end of it. You can also work out during a fasted state. You’ll learn to get used to it just like all the other aspects of intermittent fasting.
Some athletes or gym rats won’t be able to adjust their fitness schedules. While that might rule out full-time 16/8, fasting on as little as three days a week could still benefit long-term health.
Therefore you could do harder training on non-fasted days. Then on the days you fast, you might do some lighter weights or take a walk or do yoga or something, so the fasting period is not as harrowing.
So, as you can see the 16/8 method is a great way to lose weight and reap the benefits of intermittent fasting. Many people find the 16/8 method to be the easiest, most sustainable and simplest to stick to.