Hands down, the 16:8 intermittent fasting method is one of the most popular ways to practice intermittent fasting, and today I want to uncomplicate this practice for you and help you get started.
Whether you’re looking to incorporate intermittent fasting into your lifestyle for health reasons, weight loss, or its benefits, having a simple schedule to follow can help (a lot).
This post will break down the 16:8 intermittent fasting method and explain:
- What is Intermittent Fasting 16:8
- How to Start 16:8 Intermittent Fasting
- 16:8 Intermittent Fasting Results
First, you should consult a licensed medical physician before you jump into intermittent fasting. IF isn’t for everyone, and therefore, it’s something to discuss with a licensed professional.
The purpose of this post is to give you a simplified version of the confusing rules you’ll find on the internet when it comes to the 16:8 intermittent fasting method; it is not to provide any professional/medical advice.
What is Intermittent Fasting 16:8
Fasting is when you omit to eat; so intermittent fasting is a pattern in which fasting and eating are cycled. The 16:8 refers to 16 hours of fasting (not eating) and 8 hours of eating.
16:8 is one of the most popular methods to practice intermittent fasting; since it requires (at a minimum) 12-hours of fasting for the body to begin to benefit from this practice.
For women, this is also a flexible enough eating/fasting pattern to keep up with the demands of a family, life, a job, and an active lifestyle.
Is 16:8 Intermittent Fasting Good for Beginners?
The 16:8 intermittent fasting method is considered less restrictive and more flexible, and therefore it’s a great option for beginners.
It is one of the most sustainable ways to benefit from intermittent fasting without feeling deprived of food and nutrition.
One of the biggest mistakes beginners make with any fasting schedule is restricting their caloric intake (the calories consumed). Because of this, many beginners struggle with energy and blame intermittent fasting.
The truth is that culprit for low energy isn’t intermittent fasting but not eating enough and the body not having enough fuel to function.
For this reason, I highly suggest grabbing a copy of my Intermittent Fasting eBook and Meal Plan so you can learn everything you need to know and not feel tired!
How to Start 16:8 Intermittent Fasting
The best way to start the 16:8 intermittent fasting method is to pick a reasonable time to start your eating window, add 8 hours, and then commit to only enjoying meals during that time.
For the other 16 hours, you’ll refrain from eating and enjoy 0-calorie liquids (more on this below).
For example, I like to close my eating window at 8 pm so I can get a before-bed snack to help me fuel my morning workouts. This means that my eating window is noon-8pm (more or less) each day and I don’t eat anything between 8 pm and 12 pm (noon) the next day.
Learn all about the stages of intermittent fasting here.
Best Foods to Break a 16 Hour Fast
The best way to break a 16-hour fast is with nutrient-rich foods that can fuel your body with the nutrition it needs to stay healthy.
Nutrition refers to more than just calories, protein, carbohydrates, and fats (macronutrients). It also includes micronutrients like vitamins and minerals; both essential for many body functions.
As you can imagine, it’s not about the number of calories alone that will determine your success with intermittent fasting but the quality of the foods that make up those calories.
The top nutrient-dense foods to break a 16:8 fast include:
- Lean proteins: chicken and poultry, meat, fish, legumes (beans), eggs, nuts, and seeds.
- Vegetables: fresh or frozen, the richer in color the better.
- Fruits: fresh or frozen, a variety of fruit is the best option.
- Whole grains: rice, oats, quinoa, wheat (if you can have it), and other ancient grains.
- Healthy fats: olive oil, avocado (also a fruit), coconut oil, and fats from nuts (in moderation).
The most important thing to remember is to provide your body with a variety of foods from which it can get the nutrition it needs.
Eating the same foods each day can lead to nutritional deficiencies and meal boredom.
Learn more about foods great for breaking your fast here.
16:8 Fasting Meal Plan
A 16:8 fasting meal plan is helpful in order to succeed with intermittent fasting long-term and not feel deprived of food.
Deprivation = feeling miserable = not happy.
What’s the point of doing intermittent fasting if you’re not going to be happy and live joyfully? Exactly.
You can easily create a weekly meal plan that includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks and consume all the food during the 8-hour eating window.
A lot of people combine breakfast and lunch into a larger and more filling meal as their first meal.
If planning your meals is “one more thing” on top of intermittent fasting, check out the intermittent fasting meal plan I include inside my Intermittent Fasting for Women eBook where both a Low-car/Keto and Clean Meal Plans are available.
Drinks & Coffee for 16:8 Fasting
During the 16 hours of fasting, you’ll omit from eating and only drink 0-calorie drinks -this includes drinking black coffee during your fast!
Adding cream to your coffee also adds calories which will break your fast. While it takes some time to get used to drinking black coffee, it’s doable. This is a time where spending a little bit more on higher-quality coffee that tastes good black is important.
Besides water, there are many 0-calorie drinks you can enjoy during intermittent fasting. Some of my favorites are:
- La Croix Sparkling Water (any flavor)
- Zevia Zero-Calorie Drinks (any flavor)
- Vitamin Water (any)
- Propel Powder Packets (electrolytes & flavor)
- Green Tea (hot or iced)
- Fiji Water (my favorite, cold)
Can You Drink Alcohol on the 16:8 Fasting Schedule?
Alcohol has calories and therefore, it should not be consumed during the 16-hour fasting window. If you want to enjoy an alcoholic drink while practicing intermittent fasting, it should be done during your 8-hour eating window.
Remember that the goal of intermittent fasting is to reap its benefits, not to feel restrictive and miserable. If you want to celebrate or have a drink, by all means, do so.
This comes with the understanding that alcohol will break your fast and therefore if you don’t want to break it, drink during your eating hours.
Exercise while 16:8 Intermittent Fasting
Yes, you can exercise while practicing the 16:8 intermittent fasting method as long as you provide your body with the nutrition it needs during your eating window.
For hard HITT workouts and 60 and 90+ minute cardio sessions (like runs) it’s recommended you fuel your body for this activity.
If you live an active lifestyle and want to know how to incorporate intermittent fasting into your routine safely without sacrificing fitness this is for you!
Intermittent Fasting for Women
If you want to dive deeper, I’ve created a book with everything you need to know about intermittent fasting & a 1-week meal plan so you know exactly what to eat during your eating windows. Check out my Intermittent Fasting Guide here.
Does 16:8 Intermittent Fasting Work?
The 16:8 intermittent fasting method can help with weight loss, increase focus and energy, and improve blood sugar. Intermittent Fasting works for most people when incorporated in a safe and consistent manner.
While men tend to see rapid weight loss results, women tend to struggle or reach plateaus more often due to hormonal differences. I share more about hormones in my post, Intermittent Fasting for Women Over 40.
It’s best to talk to your doctor especially if you have any underlying health conditions.
16:8 Intermittent Fasting Results
One of the main benefits of intermittent fasting is weight loss and it’s absolutely possible to get results with 16:8 fasting while following a healthy and balanced diet.
Exactly how much weight loss will vary by each person’s lifestyle, eating habits, health conditions, and activity levels. Fasting alone will not shed the weight; living a healthy lifestyle combined with intermittent fasting will help tremendously.
I urge you to be wary of anyone that promises weight loss from intermittent fasting alone, especially if combined with expensive monthly supplements.
The most immediate results most women notice within the first week of intermittent fasting include:
- better sleep patterns
- more energy
- increased hydration
- reduced cravings for sugar and snacks
- increased mental focus
- reduced bloating
These benefits alone are enough to help anyone stay motivated and incorporate intermittent fasting long-term into their lifestyle.
For a step-by-step guide explaining intermittent fasting for women, how to get started, and a meal plan, check out the Intermittent Fasting for Women eBook and Meal Plan.