In this post we are going to talk about how you can get started with a 16/8 intermittent fasting plan.
There a lot of conflicting diets and eating advice out there, a lot of it works and a lot doesn’t. From cheat days to running for weight loss, there is no shortage of opinions. Intermittent fasting is one of these things that can, if you know what you’re doing. There a lot of myths and misconceptions around it.
In this full comprehensive guide, we go over everything you really need to know.
What is a 16/8 intermittent fasting plan?
Lets break down exactly what a 16:8 intermittent fasting plan is.
This type of eating strategy revolves around the idea that you fast for 16 hours, giving yourself only a 8 hour window to get your food in.
For example if you decide to have your first meal at 10:00 AM, you would have until 6:00 PM to continue eating.
The rest of the 16 hours in your day would have no caloric intake, but as hard as that sounds remember that time includes sleep.
8 hours is plenty of time to get all your meals in, and advocates for fasting argue that there are a myriad of benefits to the practice.
Benefits of using a 16/8 intermittent fasting plan
1. Reduced inflammation
Intermittent fasting has been shown to be very effective at reducing inflammation in the body.
Inflammation is a normal occurrence, it’s one of the many tools your body uses to keep itself healthy. However, this is not a more is better situation.
Chronic inflammation has been shown to worsen the effects of many diseases including arthritis, diabetes and asthma.
Because of this, using a 16/8 intermittent fasting plan can be even more valuable to your total health.
Through a very intensive and thorough study, researches found that short term fasting can strongly lessen the factors that contribute to increased inflammation.
In a controlled setting, 12 individuals were tested in fasted states versus a fed state.
While fasted, the number of monocytes (key cells to the inflammation process) were significantly reduced, thus confirming this benefit of intermittent fasting.
2. Improves insulin resistance
1 in 10 Americans have type 2 diabetes.
Insulin resistance is a key factor that can cause you to develop this disease. Luckily for us, intermittent fasting plan can tackle this health issue as well.
With diabetes and obesity becoming such a big problem, it’s important to have cost effective and easy to access tools available.
In this meta analysis, it was concluded that fasting can decrease insulin resistance, and even sometimes eliminate the need for insulin therapy.
Consult with a doctor before attempting to treat your own medical conditions, but chances are that a medical professional might recommend fasting after testing.
3. Aids in weight loss
Typically, when somebody decides to go on a diet, their goal isn’t to gain weight but instead lose it.
16:8 intermittent fasting provides a good process to help.
Have you ever been on a diet and found the small meals difficult to deal with throughout a long day? With only a 8 hour window to eat, you might be consuming the same amount, but a shorter time frame can leave you satisfied and feeling fuller after your meals.
Even if you did not have a set meal plan specially for weight loss, your total daily caloric intake can still end up being lower.
Mindless eating and late night snacks can be eliminated because they will fall outside the allotted eating time.
For example a small handful of chips and a can of soda while watching t.v before bed might not seem like much, but that can add to an extra and probably unneeded 300 calories.
Do that every day and you are looking at 9000 extra calories a month, about the same as 2 and a half pounds.
Negatives of using a 16/8 intermittent fasting plan
1. increased hunger
Normally, when you are on a diet, of course you will be hungrier then usual. With intermittent fasting, its a bit unique.
Because of the short window of eating, you might actually feel pretty full during it.
Having meals closer together might actually make you feel like you could be overeating just a little bit until you get used to the pattern.
On the other hand, once you get hungry during your fasting period, you might have to wait quite a long time until your next meal. Depending on how strong your will power, you might fail your diet during this time.
Luckily, if you have a normal sleep pattern, about 8 of the 16 hours you will be fasting will be during your sleep, which makes the process easier, but not a piece of cake.
That’s why before you decide to start a 16/8 intermittent fasting plan, especially as a beginner, you have to understand and expect these hunger strikes.
If not you can be part of the 95% who fail with their diet.
If you are already susceptible to headaches, you might want avoid or consult with your doctor before jumping on to a 16:8 intermittent fasting plan.
This is because headaches can sometimes occur when beginning a fast and are more likely in those who already suffer from them.
Like mentioned before with hunger, having a bad time on a diet is a quick way to failure, and headaches are definitely not something to look forward to.
There are a number of factors that are thought to be linked to headaches while fasting such as;
- caffeine withdrawal
These sources are not surprising.
Being on a long fast especially for those with years of normal eating habits, is itself stressful. The feelings of hunger combined with patiently waiting to eat can be very overwhelming for those who are beginners or even advanced.
Those of you who like having a morning cup of coffee most likely will suffer some withdrawals as well if your fasting window involves the early part of your day.
All of this combined leads to an increased likely hood for headaches to occur.
When fasting, you might notice that your energy levels drop, and fatigue sets in.
This is normal, but very inconvenient.
While in a fasted state, your blood sugar levels can drop significantly, leading to feelings of exhaustion.
This is especially something to keep in eye on for people diagnosed with Diabetes.
Another big factor that causes fatigue while fasting, is disturbed sleep patterns.
The stress we mentioned earlier can lead to poor sleep quality. Waking you up throughout the night or just having trouble falling asleep in the first place.
Once your body adapts to your 16/8 intermittent fasting plan, you might actually notice an improved sleep. The positive effects on your circadian rhythm can occur after fasting for a prolonged period.
So yes, you might have a lot of trouble feeling tired when you first begin fasting, and that can make adherence very difficult, but if your are able to push through you can potentially end up with even greater sleep quality and energy.
4. poor nutrition
Finally, the last negative of fasting I want to emphasize is the probability that you could have poor nutrient intake.
Protein and other nutrients can be lacking in an individuals diets after a extended period of fasting. Extra planning needs to be done in the diet as well the dieter should consider using supplementation to consume enough protein and nutrients.
If you fast carelessly and find yourself suffering from malnutrition, their are several side effects you can end up dealing with.
Most notably, you can have low energy, feelings of weakness, and poor concentration.
Your goal with any diet should be to gain a health benefit, but if done incorrectly, intermittent fasting can put you on the other side of that goal.
How you can start a 16/8 intermittent fasting plan
Now that you understand the potential benefits and risks of using a 16/8 intermittent fasting plan, you can decide if it is right for you.
If you make the decision to go through with it, here is a quick process to get you started.
1. decide on your goal
Before actually getting a sheet of paper and meticulously planning your macros, meals and eating time, make sure you know what your goal is.
Having a end in mind is important to a successful journey.
We are going to use the SMART principle to create a goal. SMART stands for a goal that is Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic and Timely.
We’re going to use someone named Fred who wants to lose weight as an example.
Don’t just say you want to lose weight, or you would like to eat less junk food.
How much weight do you want to shed? How much junk food are you trying to cut out each week.
A general goal doesn’t give you a real point to strive for.
Let’s say Fred wants to lose 10 pounds in 1 month by using a fasting diet.
Next, make sure you have a goal that can be tracked and plan what ways you will record the progress you make towards it.
Having the data and tracking in front of you is helpful to see if you are doing great or need to make adjustments when needed.
This can be accomplished through apps, a fitness journal, or just a regular piece of paper.
For our example, Fred is going to use a app like MyFitnessPal to record his daily weight and how much he eats.
It’s nice to have lofty goals, no one wants to be just ok, most people want to excel.
Setting the bar too high is a quick path to failure.
Instead, set a goal that you feel is challenging yet you know for sure can be done if the work is put in. Once you get there, you can always set another goal.
Fred decides that instead of 10 pounds in 1 month, he wants to start with a 5 pound weight loss because it is more likely to happen.
Look at your lifestyle, and the tools you have around you, and anything else directly affecting the goal you choose.
You goal should be reasonable to your own situation. You need to be honest with yourself about your ability to get your goal done.
All these things considered, is it realistic to implement a 16:8 intermittent fasting plan into your routine?
Will it disrupt your productivity in other areas of your life or worsen the relationships you have?
Fred decides he can use intermittent fasting and 5 pounds in a month can be done. He keeps his goal as is.
Finally, to complete your SMART goal, be sure to have a window of time that is fair to what you want to accomplish.
Intermittent fasting for a long period of time is usually not feasible for most people. So be sure to include a time in which you would like to complete your set goal.
Is this a goal that is going to take one month or a few?
Make sure you know when you want to finish ahead of time to avoid treading water, wasting time, for nothing.
Be reasonable, too short of a time frame can lead to extreme measures or just quitting. Too long and you might just feel comfortable with procrastinating.
In our example Fred decides that 1 month for 5 pounds might be too short. He adds an extra week for leeway, just in case he comes into some kind of difficulty.
2. Plan calorie intake and meals
After a goal is made. Before deciding what you want to eat, find out how much.
This will depend on whether you want to lose weight, gain weight, or just maintain where you currently are.
To accomplish this we are going to use a calorie calculator. Input your information to each field and you will get some recommendations that you can use as a great starting point.
Let’s say Fred is 30, 5 foot 10, and weights 180 pounds. He plans on doing some light workouts when he can about 1 to 3 times a week.
After using the calculator he finds that if he wants to lose about a pound a week, he should be eating roughly 1950 calories each day.
With this information you can start planning meals for weight loss or gain. When things go too slow or too fast, you can adjust your calorie intake.
3. Stay consistent
Now you have your plan, its just time to set it in motion.
Like mentioned earlier in this post, most diets fail. Consistency being a big problem for this.
It’s ok to have slip ups now and then. Those are bound to occur. Whatever your goal for using a 16/8 intermittent fasting plan, its about the long game.
Some days it will feel like you take a step back or you aren’t making any progress. If you are trying to lose weight for example, then your weight is going to fluctuate depending on a lot of factors.
You might diet and exercise but seem like you are gaining weight. Being consistent and paying attention to the overall long-term progress helps eliminate these little blips.
16/8 intermittent fasting beginners guide: conclusion
Alright everybody, hopefully this guide helped you understand what 16/8 intermittent fasting plan is and how to implement it correctly.
Intermittent fasting is a valuable tool that is used for many dieting goals and even occasionally to treat medical conditions. Safe to say there is a lot of well done data to back it up.
Now that you have the tools you need to get started fasting, check out my online fitness coaching so you can get help with your workouts too!