8-Hour Diet: How it Works

Updated on April 16th, 2020
8-Hour Diet
“Periodic fasting can help clear up the mind and strengthen the body and the spirit.” Ezra Taft Benson

Fasting is advocated as one of the oldest methods of therapy in medicine, practiced by nearly all major cultures and religions of the world. Whether it was the ancient Greeks or renaissance doctors(1), or even the Ayurvedic practices from ancient India, fasting as a form of healing therapy is not a new concept. In the last decade, it has come back in the public conscience with a modern twist of intermittency.

The 8-hour diet is one of the most popular diets for intermittent fasting. It allows you to eat whatever you want and as much as you want, as long as you do it within a chosen period of eight hours. And, because you go without food for the other 16 hours, this diet is also called 16/8 intermittent fasting.

Ancient Japan had banned meat (not seafood) for consumption due to Buddhist influences of the time. The punishment for breaking this law was to fast for three days initially and for 100 days when enforcement got stricter in later periods. 

Why Follow an 8-Hour Diet?

It is not uncommon to doubt a diet that lets you eat to your heart’s desire when every other diet plan out there consists of precisely what not to eat. However, the 8-hour fasting diet has research-backed benefits that are hard to ignore.

1. Increases Weight Loss

The easiest and most effective way to lose weight is to follow a plan that increases the rate at which the calories in your body are burned and decreases the rate at which you consume them. The 8-hour diet allows for both.

Intermittent fasting increases the secretion of growth hormones(2), which, according to a study(3), has a direct impact on the reduction of fat mass. Intermittent fasting also reduces your insulin level, in turn, accelerating the breakdown of body fat(4).

An experimental study(5) consisting of over 51 men has proven that this boost in metabolism brought on by the 8-hour diet has a direct relation to an increase in weight loss. Another study(6) claims intermittent fasting to be an effective strategy to combat the current obesity epidemic.

2. Prevents Type 2 Diabetes

cure diabetes

A 2018 study claims that therapeutic fasting regimens can not only minimize the use of pharmacological interventions in patients with type 2 diabetes but can help reverse the condition altogether.

Another study(7) found that a strategy such as the 8-hour diet plan can reduce fasting insulin and insulin resistance, lowering the chance of the development and progression of diabetes.

3. Increases Lifespan

With proven benefits for weight loss, diabetes, heart diseases, and brain health, intermittent fasting can also consequently affect your lifespan positively.

In an animal study, rats that were made to fast lived 83% longer than the ones that didn’t. A similar study also reported increased longevity in adult rats.

Jain monks also practice intermittent fasting, with their eating window being sunrise to sunset. 

How to Plan Your 8-Hour Diet?

Firstly, you need to choose eight hours for yourself in which you will be consuming calories. This calorie window can be set depending on your schedule. While it is easier for your body to get used to the diet if you follow the same window, it is alright to change the diet period from one day to another if you want to. The important thing is that you only keep eight hours for the window and no more than that.

For instance, you can have a window from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm. This would allow breakfast around 9.00 am and an early dinner around 4.00 pm, with lunch and snacks in between. You could also keep your window from 11.00 am to 7.00 pm with a delayed breakfast instead. If your breakfast is set to be later than 10.00 am, you can start the day with water, tea, or coffee.

Another thing to note is to increase the number of days gradually. You can start by dieting every alternate day and slowly increase from three to seven days of the week. This guarantees your body time to adjust to the diet and ensures that you don’t overexert yourself.

While the selling point of the regimen is that you can eat as per your regular diet, it is a good idea to include some 16:8 diet power foods in your meals so that your body doesn’t miss out on essential nutrients.

[ Read: Benefits of GOLO Diet ]

1. Fruits

Fresh Fruits health
  • Apple
  • Blueberry
  • Banana
  • Orange
  • Pear

2. Vegetables

  • Carrots
  • Leafy greens
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Radishes
  • Cucumbers

3. Grains

  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Quinoa
  • Brown rice

4. Nuts and Seeds

nuts and seeds for better health
  • Almonds
  • Peanuts
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Cashews
  • Pumpkin seeds

5. Beans and legumes

  • Lentils
  • Kidney Beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Split peas

6. Protein sources

  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Egg

Ensure that you maintain a reasonable portion size.

[ Read: Cutting Diet ]

Are You Ready to Start the 8-Hour Diet?

If you were unable to follow a diet despite trying your best because of its restrictions, the 8-hour diet is an easy solution. However, there are some things you should make a note of so that you’re not caught off guard.

  • You may be tempted to overeat in the eight-hour window to make up for the fasting time. But remember that this can lead to digestive problems, weight gain, and the development of unhealthy eating habits. So, refrain from that as much as you can.
  • In the initial days, you may experience mood swings, fatigue, and weakness. This is only temporary. Your body gets used to the diet in due course of time.
  • You may also feel hungry and inclined to munch on snacks after dinner in the first few days.
  • If your blood sugar is unstable, fasting for such long periods may prove risky.
  • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid such diets.

Consult your doctor before starting on the 8-hour diet. While intermittent fasting is generally considered safe for healthy adults, getting confirmation from your doctor is always a good idea.

[ Read: Warrior Diet Benefits ]


1. How often should you do 16:8 intermittent fasting?

The 16:8 intermittent fasting is a lifestyle change, so, ideally, it should be followed all seven days of the week. However, ensure that you increase the number of days gradually. Also, the results are expected to be visible in even three days a week so you can change your diet schedule depending on your goal.

2. Will intermittent fasting work without exercise?

Yes, intermittent fasting will work without any exercising as well. However, just like nutritious foods should be included in your meals, it is also important to keep yourself fit by exercising to expedite the effects of the diet.

3. How long do you have to fast before you start burning fat?

Your body goes into the fasting stage 12 hours after your last meal. Once the body is in that stage, it starts burning the fat that was inaccessible before.

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