Well, the idea of intermittent fasting is certainly NOT a new one. The 5:2 diet has been around since 2012 when UK television viewers were first introduced to the fast diet phenomenon.
If you have been hiding under a rock (paleo style) the 5:2 diet basically involves eating normally for 5 days of the week.
However, for any 2 days of your choice you can only consume around 500 to 600 calories per day. Hence, the 5:2 name tag.
The 16 8 diet works on similar principles, and boasts similar health benefits to the 5:2 diet.
Strictly speaking though, the 5:2 diet is a modified fasting diet whereas the 16 8 fasting plan is more a ‘time-restricted feeding’ diet.
What Exactly is the 16 8 Fasting diet?
Fasting diets have been around a while but all the recent twittering comes from a 2018 pilot study1 by Gabel, Hoddy and Haggerty (et al).
Basically, a group of obese adult participants ate as much as they like of whatever food they fancy between the hours of 10:00 and 18:00.
Furthermore, there were no calorie restrictions or calorie monitoring during the eating window.
So, what’s the bad news ? Well, the eating window is followed by a 16 hour fasting period between the hours of 18:00 to 10:00. During the fasting period water, black tea, coffee and diet soda drinks are permitted.
The trial lasted for 12 weeks and the results were compared to a matched history control group.
What is the aim of the 16 8 fasting diet?
The aim of this recent research study was to examine the effects of 8 hour time restricted feeding on both body weight and metabolic disease risk factors.
Weight Loss on the 16 8 Fasting Study
Interestingly, the time restricted feeding group did lose weight in comparison to the control group.
Participants were asked to consume their usual diets and physical activity routines.
The study subjects who stuck to eating only between the hours of 10:00 and 18:00 lost around 3% of body weight relative to the control group.
Furthermore, the time restricted participants consumed around 300 calories less per day without any conscious effort or dietary restrictions.
Other Health Benefits of the 16 8 fasting diet
Interestingly, there were few improvements in the metabolic markers that were tested. Reductions in insulin, insulin resistance, triglycerides, and homocysteine were also observed over time, but these change were no different to the control group.
However, the study concludes that the systolic blood pressure also improved in the 16 hour fasting group compared to the control group.
Disadvantages of the 16 8 Diet
Well, early signs are looking hopeful for this type of fasting plan. However, we do need to look at some of the disadvantages.
So, here goes:-
- Sometimes it is not made clear that it is important to eat a healthy, balanced diet during the feeding hours of this plan. Just because there is a long fast does NOT mean that a sugar and fat feast is going to lead to weight loss
- It can be difficult to maintain a social life. For example, going out to dinner may be difficult due to the relatively early hour of the evening when the fasting begins.
- This particular research study is small in both quantity of participants and duration. More robust research is required to verify the findings.
- Again, the subjects in this study were obese, it is not known if this plan would be as successful for those wanting to lose just a few pounds
- Some people report hunger pains and headaches at the start of this eating plan
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- Gabel K, Hoddy K, Haggerty N, Song J, Kroeger CM. (et al). (2018) Effects of 8-hour time restricted feeding on body weight and metabolic disease risk factors in obese adults: A pilot study. (Retreived 10 Sept 2018) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6004924/
- Collier, R (2013) Intermittent fasting: the science of going without CMAJ. 2013 Jun 11 (Retrieved 18 Sept 2018) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3680567/