Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, Hollywood stars, and social media influencers alike prescribe to the 16/8 diet, a form of intermittent fasting also known as the 8-hour diet. Proponents claim that restricting mealtimes help with everything from weight loss to lowering the risk of chronic disease.
I heard about intermittent fasting (IF) from my wife. She is a health addict and always trying to implement new, healthy ideas in our family’s lifestyle.
“Igor,” said my wife, “ you should try this! The latest Harvard study showed that IF is safe, easy and incredibly effective! This type of fasting can lead to weight loss, stabilized blood sugar, lowered blood pressure, reduced inflammation, improvements in memory and stress resistance, and slower aging.”
I was incredibly skeptical at first and unspeakably surprised at the end of my one-month intermittent fasting experience. I’ve dropped 10 pounds and improved my sports performance, and even got rid of my high blood pressure that has been tormenting me. So, let’s dig deeper and see why this type of diet is number one among celebrities, corporate executives and famous bloggers.
WHAT IS INTERMITTENT FASTING?
On the 16/8 diet, you spend 16 hours each day consuming nothing but unsweetened beverages like water, coffee, and tea. During the remaining eight-hour window, you eat all your meals and snacks. While the term, intermittent fasting, (or IF) may be new to many of us, the practice isn’t all that different from the way our ancestors likely lived: Hunt, gather, and eat during daylight; sleep and fast during darkness.
WHY IT’S SO POPULAR
A major reason many people start and stick to IF is to lose weight. A 2015 systematic review of 40 studies, published in Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology, showed that IF was effective for weight loss, with a typical loss of seven to 12 pounds over 10 weeks.
INTERMITTENT FASTING METHODS
There are several different variations of intermittent fasting, all of which involve splitting the day or week into eating and fasting periods. During the fasting periods, you eat either very little or nothing at all. These are the most popular methods:
- The 16/8 method: It involves skipping breakfast and restricting your daily eating period to 8 hours, such as 12–8 p.m., and fasting for the remaining 16 hours.
- Eat-Stop-Eat: This involves fasting for 24 hours, once or twice a week. For example, not eating from dinner one day until dinner the next day.
- The 5:2 diet: With this method, you consume only 500–600 calories on two non-consecutive days of the week and eat normally the other five days.
Many people find the 16/8 method to be the simplest, most sustainable and easiest to stick to, and I agree with them.
BENEFITS OF INTERMITTENT FASTING
When you fast, several things happen in your body on the cellular and molecular level.
Human Growth Hormone (HGH): The levels of this hormone skyrocket, increasing as much as five-fold. Benefits include weight loss and muscle gain, to name a few.
Insulin: Insulin sensitivity improves and levels of insulin drop dramatically. Lower insulin levels make stored body fat more accessible.
Cellular repair: Your cells initiate cellular repair processes including autophagy. Autophagy is the process of cells digesting and removing old, dysfunctional proteins that build up inside cells.
Gene expression: Changes are seen in the function of genes related to longevity and protection against disease.
Cancer prevention: Promising evidence from animal studies indicate that IF may help prevent cancer. There is also some evidence from human cancer patients that suggest fasting reduced various side effects of chemotherapy.
DRAWBACKS OF 16/8 INTERMITTENT FASTING
16/8 intermittent fasting may be associated with many health benefits, but it does come with some drawbacks and may not be right for everyone. Restricting your intake to just eight hours per day may cause some people to eat more than usual during eating periods to make up for hours spent fasting. This may lead to weight gain, digestive problems and the development of unhealthy eating habits.
SHOULD YOU TRY 16/8 FASTING?
Ultimately, it’s a personal choice. I really fell in love with the 16:8 hours’ lifestyle but, of course, it won’t work for everyone. If you are considering intermittent fasting, I’d encourage you to try it by starting small and keeping it as simple as possible: close your kitchen after dinner, aim to get more sleep, make sure to have enough fruits and veggies in your fridge and avoid fast food and sugar, which is hidden everywhere. By following these easy steps, you’ll feel better and be surprised how your energy batteries have been recharged!
CELEBRITIES WHO HAVE TRIED INTERMITTENT FASTING
- Joe Rogan
- J Lo
- Gary Vee
- Hugh Jackman
- Kourtney Kardashian
- Halle Berry
- Nicole Kidman
- Jimmy Kimmel
- Chris Hemsworth
- James Clear