Please note that I am not a health or medical professional. All of the information contained within this blog are based on my own experience and research, and should not be taken as medical advice. Please consult with your own health or medical professional before starting any new weight loss, health or fitness program.
What is 16/8 Intermittent Fasting?
There are 2 types of intermittent fasting schedules.
In the first type you fast daily and have an eating window.
In the second you practice alternate day fasting, where you fast on non-consecutive days of the week.
16/8 intermittent fasting falls into the first category. The daily fast is 16 hours and the eating window is 8 hours.
During the 16 hour fast no food is consumed. I prefer to drink only black coffee, black tea and water during my fasting hours.
Having an 8 hour eating window does not mean that you eat for 8 hours straight. Thank goodness, because even though that sounds great in theory, I’m pretty sure even a food lover like me couldn’t do that!
An 8 hour eating window means that there is an 8 hour period during the day where you consume all of your meals and snacks, and then you don’t eat outside of those 8 hours.
Start the 8 hour countdown from when you consume your first bite of food, and make sure you’ve finished eating 8 hours from then.
You can choose to schedule your food however you like within the 8 hours. You may want to have 2 main meals, 2 meals and a snack, or even 3 smaller meals.
Why You Should Try It
16/8 intermittent fasting is great if you’re new to intermittent fasting.
While you may need to build up to it at first if you’re used to eating all day long, it’s one of the easier intermittent fasting schedules.
It’s a pretty simple method where you’re usually only skipping one meal, or even just delaying it by a few hours or finishing it earlier depending on your preference.
This is a particularly popular method among people who practice a special type of eating plan like keto or veganism.
If you question whether fasting is something you are able to do, this method is perfect for you. Try it out and see how it works!
How to Do 16/8 Intermittent Fasting
You can structure your 16 hours of fasting and 8 hours of eating any way that you want to fit into your life schedule.
Many people find that the easiest way is to skip breakfast. I know that I’ve never been big on eating first thing in the morning anyway, so this is definitely the easiest for me.
The breakfast skipping method of 16/8 intermittent fasting could look like the following:
- Fast from 7pm-11am and eat from 11am-7pm
- Fast from 8pm-12pm and eat from 12pm-8pm
- Fast from 9pm-1pm and eat from 1pm-9pm
If you prefer to just delay breakfast instead of skipping it altogether, you could make your 16/8 intermittent fasting look like one of these options:
- Fast from 5pm-9am and eat from 9am-5pm
- Fast from 6pm-10am and eat from 10am-6pm
If you do prefer to eat first thing in the morning, there are lots of options for that as well. Just skip dinner or finish it much earlier than usual.
- Fast from 2pm-6am and eat from 6am to 2pm
- Fast from 3pm-7am and eat from 7am-3pm
- Fast from 4pm-8am and eat from 8am-4pm
Perhaps your work schedule makes it easier for you to fast during the day and you prefer an eating window later into the evening. Try one of the following:
- Fast from 10pm-2pm, eat from 2pm-10pm
- Fast from 11pm-3pm, eat from 3pm-11pm
- Fast from 12pm-4pm, eat from 4pm-12pm
Do you work the night shift or just like staying up all night? Just switch out the “AM” for “PM” in any of the above examples to suit your schedule and your preference.
Of course you don’t have to start and stop fasting exactly on the hour. Having an eating window from 12:11pm-8:11pm or 3:37am-11:37am works just as well!
16/8 Intermittent Fasting Meal Plan Examples
The following are some samples of what doing 16/8 intermittent fasting might look like. It is important to eat what you and your body prefer to eat. These are examples only. 😊
Example #1 – Skip Breakfast
7am: Wake up and drink black coffee and water.
12pm: Have a chicken Caesar salad for lunch.
4pm: Enjoy a snack of cheese and crackers and some grapes
7pm: Have some pulled pork tacos for dinner.
8pm: Consume nothing but water until bedtime.
Example #2 – Skip Dinner
8am: Wake up and eat an omelet, some fruit and coffee with cream for breakfast.
12pm: Eat an English muffin pizza and a small garden salad for lunch.
3pm: Finish your window off with another small lunch consisting of a half a grilled cheese sandwich and some tomato soup.
4pm: Drink only water (or black tea or coffee if you don’t mind the caffeine) until bedtime.
Example # 3 – Evening Eating Window
8am: Wake up and enjoy black coffee, black tea and water
4pm: This is a great time to enjoy breakfast for dinner. Just because you skipped “breakfast”, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy breakfast foods. Serve yourself up a delicious breakfast sandwich with some berries on the side.
8pm: Have your second main meal, a hearty bowl of chili topped with shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream.
11pm: End the day with a snack of chips and veggies with ranch dip.
Example # 4 – Night Shift
4pm: Wake up and enjoy some black coffee, tea or water.
10pm: Have a nice bowl of taco salad before heading for work.
2am: Time for a “lunch” of an egg salad sandwich and some veggies and dip, with a cookie for dessert
5am: Have a breakfast type snack like a smoothie or yogurt parfait
As you can see, it’s pretty easy to fit 16/8 intermittent fasting into your life.
All you have to do is decide when you want your first meal of the day to be, and finish eating for the day within 8 hours.
Another way to look at it is deciding when you want to finish eating for the day, and then not eating again for 16 hours after that.
Do you have to fast at the same time every day?
Honestly, it would probably be easier in a lot of ways if you do, but you certainly don’t have to. The most important thing is fitting intermittent fasting into your life so that you will stick with it.
If you would like to have an eating window of 12pm-8pm during the week, and then 8am-4pm on the weekends go for it. It will all add up to the same number of fasting/eating hours in the end, but you will have to fast longer on some days and shorter on others.
In the above example, you would only be fasting from 8pm to 8am Friday night to Saturday morning for a 12 hour fast. Then you would fast from 4pm – 12pm Sunday night to Monday morning for a 20 hour fast.
Pros of 16/8 Intermittent Fasting
Unlike some of the stricter fasting regimens like one meal a day, 16/8 intermittent fasting isn’t too difficult which is what makes it perfect for beginners.
You can easily adjust it to fit your life and social schedules making it easier to stick to, even on the weekends.
Only fasting for 8 hours means that you could potentially still enjoy all of your meals, if you adjust your timing accordingly. This is great if you really don’t like the idea of skipping meals, but still want to experience some of the benefits of fasting.
Cons of 16/8 Intermittent Fasting
Unless you combine 16/8 intermittent fasting with another weight loss plan like keto or an intense exercise regimen, it may not get you the results you’re looking for. You may have to eventually switch over to a stricter plan depending on how your body reacts to fasting.
Unlike stricter plans with longer fasts, 16/8 may not trigger appetite correction where your body naturally starts to need less food, making the fasting time more difficult than it might be with other schedules.
You can still eat a lot of food in 8 hours. If you choose to squeeze 3 meals into an 8 hour window, you may find that you’re exceeding the amount of food that your body needs. While fasting is not all about the calorie deficit like many other weight loss plans, you can still definitely eat too much.
Success With 16/8 Intermittent Fasting
Don’t let the cons throw you off, 16/8 intermittent fasting might be just the fasting schedule that allows you to meet all of your health goals.
It seems to be a very popular plan with celebrities who are in amazing physical shape. I’ve read that it’s the preferred eating method of Terry Crews and Hugh Jackman, for example. Both very good examples of health from what I can see!
16/8 was the method I used when I first started intermittent fasting. It’s still my preferred fasting schedule on the weekend, though I’ve shortened my eating window through the week. I would definitely recommend you give it a try and see if it’s the intermittent fasting plan for you!
Have you tried 16/8 intermittent fasting? Let me know in the comments how it worked or is working for you!