Part-day fasting, otherwise known as time-restricted feeding or 16:8, is generally the most user-friendly and sustainable method of intermittent fasting. Simply put, you fast for 16 hours each day, then follow your normal diet for the balance of the day (eight hours).
The 16:8 diet is popular because there is no need to count calories, watch portion sizes, feel deprived or restricted or miss out on social occasions. Of all the fasting methods, compliance is the highest on 16:8.
Exactly when you fast and eat on a part-day fasting day is up to you. Choose an eight-hour window that is best for you to eat in or, perhaps, more importantly, choose a 16-hour window of time that works best for you to fast in.
Why intermittent fasting works
Most people start eating or drinking early in the morning and still be nibbling late into the night. However, research suggests eating for more than 15 hours of the day is associated with metabolic problems. This not only leads to weight gain, it can also impair the functioning of our cells and accelerate the ageing process.
Fasting, on the other hand, gives our body a break from processing constantly. When we eat, food moves from our stomach to our small intestine, where it begins the complex job of sending off nutrients in different directions. The energy or calories we consume gets used right then and there to fuel our daily functions of breathing, walking, digesting, even thinking!
Some fuel will also be stored as a quick-access source of energy in the form of glycogen in our muscle and liver cells. Then if we have eaten a high-calorie meal or simply consumed more energy than our body needs and there is excess energy left over, we store that as fat, causing us to gain weight. Generally, though, if we eat only as much energy as our body requires, our weight will stay the same.
What you can eat on the 16:8 diet
In a nutshell, you do not need to be in “diet” mode. Unlike a traditional calorie-controlled diet, you need to think more about foods you do need to eat in order to meet your nutritional requirements rather than what you should be eating. This is really important, particularly when you are limiting your eating day and potentially missing one or two meals or snacks where you’d normally get certain nutrients.
How the 16:8 diet is different from other diets
* Unlike other diets, you do not need to fast every day or even every hour of the day.
* When you are not fasting, you can eat with no restrictions.
* It can be more sustainable in the long-term than a traditional low-calorie diet.
* It can help with weight loss, but the benefits go beyond weight loss.
* You do not have to omit any food groups.
* It may help to reduce “junk food” cravings.
* It targets abdominal fat, which is associated with an increased risk of chronic disease.
* It can help to reduce the risk of most major chronic diseases.
* It can help reduce blood sugar levels, insulin, cholesterol, blood pressure and inflammation.
* It can help to protect the brain against degenerative diseases.