Many cultures and religions practice fasting and have done so for centuries. Today, intermittent fasting, especially the 16/8 version, has become very popular and is gaining increasing attention.
This version of fasting involves limiting your food and beverage consumption to eight hours a day and not eating for the remaining 16 hours. The cycle can be repeated as often as you like – every day or a couple of times a week.
Why is 16/8 fasting so popular?
Intermittent fasting is a safe, sustainable way to improve your health when it is paired with a healthy lifestyle and a nutritious diet.
One reason why people like 16/8 intermittent fasting is that it is more flexible than many diet plans and fits easily into a lifestyle. It is easy to follow as you don’t have to count every calorie you eat or limit yourself to a specific food group.
How it works and some benefits
If you want to find out more about how intermittent fasting works, LifeApps.io describes the five different stages: ketosis, autophagy, growth hormone, insulin reduction, and immune cell rejuvenation.
Various animal and human studies have shown how simple fasting can lessen inflammation which has a number of health benefits. It helps to clear out damaged cells and toxins, which enhances brain function and lowers the risk for cancer. One study showed how fasting could boost metabolism and increase weight loss.
A review published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that 16/8 fasting helps with stress resistance and offers a decreased incidence of diseases.
How to get started
Eating between noon and 8 pm means you fast overnight and skip breakfast. Many people choose this window because they can eat a balanced lunch and dinner. Others prefer to eat between 9 am and 5 pm, which means they can eat a late breakfast, a normal lunch and a light snack at about 4 pm. It’s best to experiment and find out what schedule suits your lifestyle most.
To make sure you’re getting enough nutrients, your meals should include fruits, veggies, whole grains, healthy fats and proteins. Spacing several small meals throughout the period when you’re eating helps to stabilize your blood sugar levels and prevent you from feeling hungry.
While fasting, you need to stay hydrated. Drinking water and unsweetened tea or coffee not only helps to keep you hydrated but also helps to keep your appetite under control.
When you first get started, you may experience some weakness, fatigue and hunger but as your body gets used to the routine, these side effects should subside.
When you restrict your food intake to eight hours, you may feel as though you need to eat more when you can eat. Overeating during this time can make you gain weight and suffer from digestive problems.
If you eat junk food instead of nutritious food, you won’t experience all the positive health benefits of intermittent fasting.
Start gradually and consider stopping if you experience negative symptoms or have any concerns. If you have a history of disordered eating, low blood pressure, diabetes or you’re taking any medication, you should talk to your doctor before trying intermittent fasting.
A final word
Intermittent fasting is simply cycling between periods of eating and fasting. Body fat is just food energy that is stored away and if you don’t eat, your body “eats” its own fat for energy. If 16/8 fasting is done right, it could have significant health benefits, including weight loss, improved blood sugar and cholesterol control, enhanced brain function and increased life span.