The 16:8 Diet is probably the most popular form of IF. It involves a 16-hour fast each day, usually from 8 pm to noon the following day. All your food for the day is eaten during an eight-hour feeding window.
In short, the 16:8 method involves skipping breakfast, making lunch your first meal of the day, and eating dinner no later than 8-9pm.
Does this type of intermittent fasting get results? Or is it just another gimmick that’ll soon be forgotten when the next fad diet comes along?
My intermittent fasting results
My experience with intermittent fasting started in the late 1990s, when I got into the habit of going to the gym first thing in the morning before eating anything. I’d been reading Body-for-LIFE by Bill Phillips, and “fasted cardio” was one of the things he recommended.
The idea was to skip breakfast, train in a fasted state, then leave an hour after your workout before eating anything. So I’d go to the gym on the way to work, train, and then eat something when I got to the office.
But then I quit my job and started my own business working from home. I’d fire up the computer as soon as I got out of bed, work for an hour or two, and then go to the gym.
The main reason I did this was to avoid the rush hour traffic. But there was another benefit I wasn’t expecting. The morning hours were highly productive for me. I found it so much easier to get into that “flow state” where you’re lost in what you’re doing and time seems to pass a lot faster than normal. As a result, I was able to get a lot more work done.
This seems to be one of the more common intermittent fasting results. Plenty of people report feeling more focused and getting more work done during the first few hours of the morning, when they’re deep into a fast. It seemed like a waste to spend my most productive hours of the day in the gym, or even to sit down and eat breakfast.
Gradually, the amount of time I spent working got longer and longer. I ended up going to the gym at around 11am, which would push my “breakfast” back to between 12 and 1pm. This is an eating pattern very similar to the one Martin Berkhan talks about on leangains.com.
Having used intermittent fasting for the best part of 20 years, here’s what I think about it.
Intermittent fasting is a very simple way to create the energy deficit you need to lose fat
You just don’t eat breakfast, and then go about the rest of your day. That simplicity gives it a big advantage over most other diets.
The calories that you normally have in the morning are eliminated from the diet. This means that your calorie budget is distributed across fewer meals. As a result, those meals can be larger and more “normal” than your typical diet fare.
Because your feeding window is smaller than it otherwise would be, you also end up eating less often.