16 Hour Fast Benefits: Follow A 16:8 Fasting Schedule For Great Results

There are any number of common intermittent fasting diet schedules with the time-restricted eating approach, but the 16/8 intermittent fasting diet is one of the most popular intermittent fasting diet routines.

This intermittent fasting diet schedule involves having a 16-hour fast every day and confining your eating window to an eight-hour period for each 24-hour cycle.

But is 16:8 intermittent fasting effective? What are the benefits of a 16-hour fast? Are the 16 hour fasting benefits as good as stricter intermittent fasting schedules when fasting more than 16 hours?

In this article, we will discuss the benefits of 16 hour fasting intermittent diet routines, how to do a 16 hour fasting diet, and how to maximize the 16 hour fast benefits to support weight loss and health goals.

We will cover: 

  • What Is a 16 Hour Fast?
  • How to Do a 16 Hour Fasting Diet
  • What Are the 16 Hour Fast Benefits?

Let’s dive in! 

A plate of food and the word fast.

What Is a 16 Hour Fast?

Intermittent fasting is currently one of the most popular approaches to a sustainable weight loss diet.

Rather than restricting specific foods and dictating what you can and cannot eat, intermittent fasting limits the window of time in which you can eat whatever foods and caloric beverages you choose to consume.

Thus, an intermittent fasting diet stipulates when you can eat (or not eat), not what you can eat or not eat.

A 16 hour fast per day is one of the popular intermittent fasting diet schedules that fall under the umbrella of “time-restricted feeding“ or “time-restricted eating“ intermittent fasting diets.

This means that there is a certain number of hours per day, or a given window of time, in which you must consume all of your total calories for the day. The rest of the day and night is spent fasting.

There are any number of common intermittent fasting diet schedules with the time-restricted eating approach, but the 16/8 intermittent fasting diet is one of the most popular intermittent fasting diets.

The 16 refers to a 16-hour fast every night, and the 8 refers to an eight-hour daily eating window.

The numbers 16 and 8 on a plate, a fork, knife, apple and clock.

How to Do a 16 Hour Fasting Diet

While there are 16 hour fast benefits, it can take some time to modify your current daily dietary intake schedule to build up to fasting for 16 hours per day. 

Studies suggest that most adults in America consume food over approximately 15 hours per day or so. 

With a 16 hour fast every day, you will only have eight hours to eat and drink all of your calories, so this is just over half as much time as the typical American adult normally spaces out his or her eating for the day.

Therefore, it can take a little bit of time to adjust or build up to following a 16/8 intermittent fasting diet schedule, and you may find that, at first, it is difficult to go a full 16 hours without eating.

The good thing about intermittent fasting protocols such as 16:8 fasting is that you can schedule your 16 hour fast at any time you want over the 24-hour period.

A plate with food only in a section, representing intermittent fasting.

For example, you might finish dinner at 6 PM and then begin your 16 hour fast until 10 AM the next morning, when you would have your first meal. 

If you prefer a late dinner, you might have your first meal at 12:00 PM and then stop eating at 8 PM. Then, you would begin your 16-hour fasting window from 8 PM until noon the next day.

You have the latitude to decide when to fast and when to eat with any intermittent fasting diet schedule.

You also don’t have to follow the exact same fasting schedule every day.

The benefits of fasting 16 hours will be realized any day that you follow the 16/8 intermittent fasting routine, or so you don’t have to be militant about the exact same schedule on weekdays versus weekends or shifting things around a little bit from day to day as long as you are trying to stick with the full 16-hour daily fast.

A good rule of thumb for any diet is to make the diet work for you by allowing some flexibility as needed; this will help improve adherence in the long term, which will ultimately help you get the most 16 hour fast benefits and health improvements.

That said, most people find that it is easiest to try to keep the exact same fasting and eating schedule both for practical reasons as well as to help your body adjust to the restricted eating window and the prolonged 16 hour overnight fast.

A plate that says fast and eat with clock hands.

What Are the 16 Hour Fast Benefits?

Because fasting 16 hours a day can be tough, knowing the benefits of a 16 hour fast every day can help provide the motivation to stick with your intermittent fasting diet goals.

Studies show that there can be 16 hour fasting weight loss benefits and that fasting 16 hours a day can help promote fat loss. 

The primary way in which you can experience weight loss benefits of a 16 hour fast is because the 16 hour fast restricts your permissible eating window to only eight hours. 

Because you no longer have “free range“ of when you can eat, a 16 hour fast imposes limitations on mindless grazing and overeating at night.

It may also help you be more deliberate in making smart food choices so that you are nourished and satiated since you will have to go 16 hours without eating.

Essentially, a benefit of a 16 hour fast is that it forces you to think about the foods that you are eating so that you choose more satiating, nutrient-dense foods that will keep you full over the fast.

Post it notes that say benefits.

However, keep in mind that if you are doing 16 hour fasting for weight loss, you need to be mindful of what you are eating and how much you are eating relative to your caloric expenditure. 

Weight loss requires a caloric deficit, so be careful not to binge eat once your eating window opens.

Due to the hormonal and metabolic effects of time-restricted eating, additional 16 hour fast health benefits can include the following:

Someone on a scale.

As can be seen, there are both health benefits of fasting 16 hours as well as psychological/practical benefits of a 16 hour fast as a weight loss diet compared to many other popular weight loss diets.

For example, intermittent fasting doesn’t ban any specific foods or food groups so long as you are consuming them in your eating window.

When no foods are “off-limits,” there’s often less of an intense craving or longing for them, and adherence to the diet can be better because you don’t feel like there are foods you “can’t” have.

Plus, the flexibility to choose when you do your fasting and eating allows you to make the diet work well in your life.

These practical 16 hour fast benefits for weight loss and health, compared with other popular diets, improve the sustainability and adherence to this dietary approach.

Even among all of the various intermittent fasting schedules, 16/8 intermittent fasting is one of the most popular. 

A person eating.

It tends to be fairly sustainable in the long term because it is not overly severe or restrictive in terms of how long you have to fast, yet there are enough 16 hour fasting benefits to substantiate the discomfort and challenge that is imposed.

Many people find that the 16 hour fast benefits work perfectly from a logistical standpoint as well as a health and weight loss perspective, so they choose to stick with 16:8 intermittent fasting for the long term. 

Other people use the 16 hour fast as a great starting place for a foray into longer fasting periods, such as the 20/4 intermittent fasting diet or even an occasional 24 hour water fast. 

If you would like to build up to a 16 hour fast, consider trying intermittent fasting 14/10 and seeing how you feel. You can learn more about the 14 hour fast here.

A clock with utensils as hands.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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