By Faye M Smith
Thinking about starting the 16:8 diet, but want to find out more before you do? Well, you've come to the right place. This intermittent fasting diet has grown in popularity over the last few years and it's no wonder why. Changing the hours you eat can be a simple way to change your mindset about food, and it has great results.
Here's our expert advice on why the 16:8 diet may work for you...
What is the 16:8 diet?
"The 16:8 diet is an intermittent fasting diet," says dietitian, Dr Carrie Ruxton from The Health & Food Supplements Information Service. "16:8 intermittent fasting involves limiting consumption of foods and energy (calorie)-containing beverages to a set window of eight hours per day and abstaining from food for the remaining 16 hours. This cycle can be repeated as often as you like – from just once or twice per week to every day, depending on personal preference.”
How does the 16:8 diet work?
"Restricting food intake to eight hours a day helps to cut calories," says Dr Ruxton. "It may also help weight loss if the diet is healthy and the person does not make up for fasting by eating large amounts of foods during the eating period of eight hours. As well as cutting calorie intake, the diet may reduce resting energy expenditure and contribute to weight loss.”
What can you eat each day on the 16:8 diet?
Don't worry about starving, you won't on this diet.
“Start by picking a time frame for fasting, say 8pm until midday the following day or 5pm until 9am until the following day," says Dr Ruxton. "So, you’d eat during the hours of 12 noon until 8pm or from 9am until 5pm. You could eat anything you like although any benefits that might be gained from the diet would not be so great if you choose a high proportion of less healthy foods. It’s important to stick to nutritious whole foods during the eating period. Drink calorie-free beverages, like water and unsweetened teas, during the fast period to curb appetite and maintain hydration.”
- The Mediterranean Diet - key benefits and what to eat
- The dangerous new fad diet with serious side effects
- Is the DASH Diet for you?
Why could the 16:8 diet work for you?
“While other diets often set strict rules and regulations on what can be eaten, 16:8 intermittent fasting is easy to follow and requires minimal effort," says Dr Ruxton.
It is really simple to follow. "It is generally considered less restrictive and more flexible than some other diet plans and is easier for some people to fit into their lifestyle, which can contribute to weight loss,” adds Dr Ruxton.
Is the 16:8 diet bad?
“Restricting food intake to just eight hours per day can cause some people to eat more than usual during eating periods in an attempt to make up for hours spent fasting," says Dr Ruxton. "This may lead to weight gain, digestive problems and the development of unhealthy eating habits. The 16:8 diet may also cause short-term negative side effects at the start such as hunger, weakness and fatigue – though these often subside once a routine is established."
And that's not the only thing to look out for. “Restricting food intake could also reduce intake of vitamins and minerals," says Dr Ruxton. "In fact, any change of food/diet regime can prejudice vitamin and mineral intake.”
How much weight could you lose on the 16:8 diet?
"This depends on your calorie intake during the eight hours you eat," says Dr Ruxton. "Research on this diet is limited, but has shown similar weight loss on an intermittent fasting diet and a low-calorie diet although intermittent fasting may be more effective for retention of lean tissue (e.g., muscle).”
Is the 16:8 diet worth a try?
Yes, this one is definitely worth trying. "The 16:8 diet can be a safe and easy way to improve your health when managed with a healthy nutritious diet and a healthy lifestyle," says Dr Ruxton.
"However, it shouldn’t be viewed as a substitute for balanced, healthy diet rich in whole foods. Though 16:8 intermittent fasting is generally considered safe for most healthy adults, it’s important to talk to your doctor before giving it a try. This is especially the case if you have any underlying health conditions, such as diabetes, low blood pressure, a history of disordered eating or if you take any medication. Plus, intermittent fasting is also not recommended for women who are trying to conceive or those who are pregnant or breastfeeding.”
How much does the 16:8 diet cost?
Here's the great news. "You don’t have to sign up to anything," says Dr Ruxton. "There are plenty of 16:8 plans online. The cost of the diet is your choice as you choose what to put in your shopping basket. You may spend less eating during eight hours each day.”
Good luck if you try the 16:8 diet - we hope it works for you.
Faye M Smith is an award-winning journalist with over 15 years experience in the magazine industry. Her continued work in the area of natural health won her the coveted title of theHealth Food Manufacturers’ Association (HFMA) Journalist of the Year Award 2021.
Currently Acting Health Editor across several brands including woman&home, Woman and Woman’s Own, Faye specialises in writing about mental health, the menopause, and sex and relationships. In fact, having previously been the go-to sex columnist for Now magazine, there isn't much she won't discuss when it comes to women's health. This makes her the best person to review must-buy sex toys, describe how to have a mind-blowing orgasm or explain how to navigate sex in the shower without it ending in a medical emergency.
While not anti-gym, Faye’s fitness routine is more focussed on finding inner balance rather than burning excess calories. An advocate of mindfulness, she loves power breathing, yoga and plenty of walking in nearby woodlands rather than a sweaty HIIT class. Follow her @fayetuned
The Starling is expected to be Netflix's next hit—here's everything you need to know about Melissa McCarthy’s tearjerker
The Starling release date is just days away as Melissa McCarthy stars in this tale of grief and healing
By Emma Shacklock •
Who left The Great British Bake Off tonight and who won star baker?
Who left The Great British Bake Off this week? Spoiler alert! Here's the details if you missed the first episode
By Caitlin Elliott •
Will we ever find a cure for Alzheimer's? Research points to new treatments for symptoms of the disease
The latest research into a cure for Alzheimer's provides a glimmer of hope for those with early stages of the disease
By Allie Anderson •
How to sleep better by making a few simple changes to your daily routine
Mastering how to sleep better can change your life—and these nine expert-approved tips will have you snoozing in no time
By Sarah Finley •
'Running is my therapy'—Katie Piper on mental health, half marathons and her rallying cry to non-running women everywhere
In an exclusive interview with woman&home, Katie Piper shares her inspiring journey from reluctant runner to half marathon finisher
By Emma Dooney •
Is your bad breath halitosis? How to recognize it and treat it yourself
We outline the causes, diagnosis, and treatment of halitosis—plus the signs your bad breath is a symptom of something serious
By Ciara McGinley •
Female sexual dysfunction affects around half of older women and many don't know it—are you one of them?
If you're experiencing female sexual dysfunction, you're not alone—our experts reveal the signs and how to deal with it
By Rachael Davies •
Why does my pee smell? Five possible causes of smelly urine
Wondering 'why does my pee smell'? Here are five common causes, according to an expert
By Ciara McGinley •
The best pillows for back pain offer comfort and support while you snooze
Reduce pain and discomfort with one of the best pillows for back pain
By Ciara McGinley •
Doctor calls for investigation into covid vaccines effect on the menstrual cycle
A medical expert has called for an investigation into the vaccine's effect on the menstrual cycle after 30,000 reported menstrual changes
By Laura Harman •