The 8 Hour Diet (and 16 Hours not): Does It Really Work and How Exactly?
To lose weight it is nowadays very popular to do some form of intermittent fasting. There are many forms to choose from which you can lend a hand to your fat burning. The most popular form is the 8-hour diet.
The benefits of an 8-hour diet would outweigh the disadvantages and the diet also ensure that you can achieve much more results in the area of losing weight. There are even people who claim that you can eat as much as before but will only lose weight through the intermittent fasting process.
Whether this is true is still the question. That’s why I’m going to explain exactly what this article is the 8-hour diet and if you find it useful.
In addition, you will learn in this blog:
- What intermittent fasting is exactly
- What are the benefits of the 8-hour diet (and intermittent fasting)
- What are the disadvantages of this particular eating pattern
What is the 8-hour diet?
If someone told you that there is such a thing as the ‘low-carbohydrate diet’, then you can probably suggest something there.
If someone tells you that he/she started a high-fat diet yesterday, then you can undoubtedly think of a number of products that you can eat with such a diet.
But then you suddenly hear that your best friend has started on the 8-hour diet.
The first thing you probably think is, it:
“What the hell are you eating with this diet? A clock?”
The name of the 8-hour diet is a bit misleading. It has nothing to do with what you eat but more with when you eat something.
You can not really call it a diet because it does not really concern yourself with what you eat. It mainly focuses on the so-called eating window in which you eat or do not eat.
At the 8-hour diet, you also eat your calories within a period of 8 hours and the rest of the day you do not eat anything. That may sound super heavy and fiercely…
… but that is not the case at all since most of this fast takes place in your sleep.
The 8-hour diet has become one of the most popular forms of intermittent fasting in recent years due to its effectiveness and relative ease.
If you have ever heard someone speak about the subject of intermittent fasting, then in 99% of the cases the person will actually talk about the 8-hour diet.
More explanation does not really require the 8-hour diet.
The principal speaks for itself. But to better understand the effectiveness of this eating pattern, it is good to meet the ‘umbrella’ where this diet comes under:
What is intermittent fasting?
The most important thing to know is that intermittent fasting is a diet. It does not really focus on what you can eat but only when you eat. You eat between certain hours and then you steady for the rest of the day. It is the intention that you don’t eat ‘for a lot longer‘ than you ‘eat‘.
By combining intermittent fasting with high-quality food (and a slight calorie deficit), you can speed up a lot of weight loss. In addition, it also has other positive effects for your body, your brain and even prolongs your lifespan.
The main health benefits of intermittent fasting are due to the production of the human growth hormone (HGH Human Growth Hormone) and the improvement of your insulin sensitivity.
In addition, improving your autophagy also plays a role. This is the process whereby your body cleans up its own dead cells and residual waste. When you are constantly eating, your body rarely gets the time to CLEAN everything up.
This allows the accumulation of waste matter and remains of dead cells and thus kill healthy cells. Or even to mutate them into cancer cells.
It has therefore also been shown that periodically a whole day or two can clean up your body to a certain extent. You allow your body during this period the time and opportunity to really clean the body.
Lose weight with intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting is an ideal way to lose weight. Regardless of which time window you decide to choose. In addition, research shows that it is also easy to maintain when you are working on it.
What makes intermittent fasting even more enjoyable is that recent research has shown that losing weight in this way causes you to burn more fat than when following a regular diet with a large caloric restriction.
Why do you lose more weight with intermittent fasting is quite special. Of course, it can be because you forget to eat more often. Or that you skip meals through the ‘short’ time window. But it also appears that if you continue to eat as many calories as normal, you will also lose weight. You do not necessarily have to eat less to lose weight with the 8-hour diet.
The power of this diet is what positive effects it has on your hormones and improve your insulin sensitivity. The main hormones that play a role here are:
- The human growth hormone
Hormone 1: Human Growth Hormone
By fasting long periods, your levels of human growth hormone (HGH) will increase by as much as 500%.
According to another study, you can even get higher levels. This research showed that it can even increase by 2000% in men and by women by 1300%. But for this, you have to fast for 24 hours or longer. Maybe a bit too long for you but good to keep in mind when you need more hormones in your life;).
The human growth hormone also ensures that you can lose more body fat.
Not only does it ensure that you can lose more fat but can also make more and easier muscle mass. That is ideal since your ‘bad’ mass shrinks more easily and your ‘good’ mass grows more easily. What is also a reason why HGH is now used much more by professional bodybuilders than ‘old school’ testosterone.
Hormone 2: insulin
This is one of the most powerful hormones that your body can make. It also plays an important role in your metabolism. Perhaps it is not surprising that bodybuilders also decide to inject this substance into their buttocks because they can grow more easily.
But as a normal person, you do not want to have as much insulin in your bloodstream. The dust is normally present to ensure that sugars and fats can be stored in your body. This allows you to store what you eat for when you need it.
If you have continuous high insulin levels, your body will often be in ‘storage’ mode instead of ‘burning’ mode. To lose weight, you ideally want to have as low as possible insulin values.
There even appears to be a clear link between chronically high insulin levels and having prevalence or obesity.
A good way to get and keep your chronic insulin levels low (and thus promote fat burning) is to eat low carbohydrate or to do intermittent fasting by, for example, following the 8-hour diet.
A combination of both is of course even better.
Hormone 3: norepinephrine
The hormone norepinephrine is a stress hormone. This is created to make you sharper and more alert. It is the brother of adrenaline chemically.
If you have nothing to eat for a long time (or whole day), your body will produce the hormone norepinephrine from ‘stress’. Because of the stress, you would be able to take action evolutionally faster to find food. In addition, the hormone causes you to release more fat to use this as an energy source.
Because of the effects of norepinephrine, fat burning can increase by up to 14%.
This, of course, makes it a lot easier to lose weight. Especially in combination with the benefits of the decrease of insulin and increase of the human growth hormone.
Benefits of the 8-hour diet
As you have read above, intermittent fasting has a lot of general advantages. Below I will give you some more specific benefits of intermittent fasting that you will also experience with the 8-hour diet.
# 1: losing weight and losing belly fat
Your weight is one of the most important parameters of your overall health. Is your BMI good? Then it will usually mean that you have little to complain about as a healthy person.
The 8-hour diet is a perfect way to ensure that you lose weight. This is because you create a larger negative energy balance with it.
That is because on the one hand – intentionally or unintentionally – you defeat a meal so that you eat ‘less’ and thus waste.
On the other hand, you burn more calories because your metabolism can accelerate up to 14% through intermittent fasting.
The decreasing insulin values also make it easier to lose weight and even see improvements in type 2 diabetes. That is not a bad side effect.
Research shows that you can lose 3 to 8% of your weight in a period of 3 to 24 weeks. The same study also showed that you can lose 4 to 7% of your waist circumference, which indicates that you lose belly fat.
# 2: recovery of body cells and genes
If you relatively often eat a meal, your body is actually constantly digesting and processing food.
Once you finally are fasting, then your body has the energy (and especially the time) to repair damaged cells, to clean up dead cells and to metabolize the waste that is between the cells.
Research shows that different genes and molecules involved in healthy aging – and your immune system – are positively influenced by a long period of fasting.
Never fasting is like having a car that is constantly on. Because of this, you offer your car (read: body) never rest. Do you really want it? Then it will last a lot longer.
# 3: reduction of oxidative stress and inflammation
Another additional advantage of not eating for a long period is that you will also cause fewer ‘problems’ in your body that normally happen.
Oxidative stress is a biological mechanism that makes you age faster (and is also involved in many chronic diseases). Free radicals released from oxidative stress damage different parts of healthy body cells such as your DNA, proteins and fats.
You often see oxidative stress in people with an unhealthy lifestyle. For example, it is often the result of obesity, low blood sugar levels, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. But medication, too much exercise and long sunbathing can also cause things to go wrong in your body.
It is fortunate that intermittent fasting can also help with this. Your body improves its resistance to oxidative stress when you do not eat for a long period of time. This is mainly due to the fact that your immune system functions much better by temporarily stopping food.
Also, the number of inflammations is much lower by following a form of intermittent fasting such as the 8-hour diet. Again, this has to do with getting your body a bit of rest, which in the long term reduces the chance of a lot of chronic illness.
# 4: reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is one of the biggest health problems the world is currently struggling with.
Every year more than 1.5 million people die from the direct effects of type 2 diabetes.
The main reason for this is that people ingest a lot of sugars and at the same time have high insulin levels. As a result, the pancreas is overloaded and at the same time, insulin sensitivity deteriorates rapidly.
Intermittent fasting like the 8-hour diet will cause your blood sugar level to drop and your insulin sensitivity increases. All this by simply not eating several hours a day.
# 5: lowers cancer and Alzheimer’s risk
Your body is not perfect. Cells occasionally go to pieces and parts of them too. If nothing is done, the cells can die completely and even destroy surrounding cells.
Programmed cell death (autophagy) is the process by which cells break down broken parts, repair or even “finish” themselves.
Fasting ensures that the autophagy process is set in motion to repair or clean up damaged cells.
This autophagy provides protection against various diseases where cell division and the health of cells are central, such as cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
There are even studies that allow animals to fast for long periods with promising results.
It is even possible that you can prevent and partly reverse cancer (in animals) by fasting long periods.
A small study in people with Alzheimer’s disease showed that the symptoms of the disease improve enormously by only doing intermittent fasting.
# 6: improves brain function
Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disease and intermittent fasting improves this brain disease. It is therefore not surprising that other functions of the brain improve a lot.
Intermittent fasting can stimulate and promote the growth of new nerve cells – which is, of course, good for your brain function. Also, following the 8-hour diet ensures that you start to make more BDNF (Brain-derived neurotrophic factor).
This substance is involved in forming new synapses in your brain. It is also important for your memory and the learning process.
# 7: it retards aging
This is perhaps one of my favorite side effects of intermittent fasting.
Especially because you do not have to do anything extra for it at all. Following the 8-hour diet can ensure that you live longer and do not age as quickly.
For example, it has turned out that every fasting can ensure that they live 83% longer every day.
It seems anyway that calorie restriction is the best way to extend your life. Especially studies in rats show very good results with caloric restriction.
However, there is no clear and unambiguous evidence in humans for extending your lifespan by means of calorie restriction.
However, intermittent fasting does improve certain health markers (cholesterol, inflammation, oxidative stress) that you can live on in the long term.
So in all probability intermittent fasting also contributes to healthy aging in people.
You will NOT live shorter in the worst case.
The disadvantage of the 8-hour diet?
Following the 8 hour diet has not only benefits. Below I give you three disadvantages that you should know.
# 1 It can be experienced as hard
Hard is obviously a very relative term. But some find the 8-hour diet hard. Especially the beginning is experienced as difficult after years ‘normal’ to have eaten.
But if you look at it objectively, the 8-hour diet cannot be hard by nature. You can eat 8 consecutive hours. That may sound little compared to the remaining 16 hours, but it is not.
If you start eating at 11 o’clock at night, you can get rid of your last bite at 7 o’clock in the evening.
Personally, I do not find this particularly difficult. During Ramadan, more than one billion people fast from sunrise to sunset.
That means in the summer months in western Europe that they are not allowed to eat AND drink from 6 in the morning until 10 in the evening. Also no water.
Now that’s difficult.
It takes at most 1 to 2 weeks to get used to the 8-hour diet. But with this, you know that it can possibly be experienced as hard.
# 2 You have to have a structured life
Following intermittent fasting automatically ensures that you have to plan your life much more.
You have to decide when you’re going to ‘eat’ and therefore take this into account with every meal you want to eat.
This also means that spontaneous actions and unscheduled extras do not fit very well in your eating schedule.
In the evening, a quick snack or drink will negatively affect your food window.
Because of this, you have to cancel the fun or decide to start eating much later so that you can grab a bite and drink with friends.
Of course, this is not a disaster but it is something that you have to take into account.
Do you have a hectic life or do many spontaneous dinners take place in your life? Then the 8-hour diet may not be the best diet for you to follow.
# 3 It is not a panacea
How wonderful the 8-hour diet and intermittent fasting also seems …
… it will not solve all your health problems or overweight.
You will have to eat healthier.
You will have to move more often.
You will have to sleep better.
The 8-hour diet is at best a diet that you can follow to get the most out of a healthy lifestyle.
But it will not be able to correct or improve an unhealthy diet.
There are no shortcuts for a healthy lifestyle.
You really have to make an effort. So do not start the 8-hour diet with the intention to keep eating less healthy and then lose weight.
Perhaps that works in the short term …
… but in the longer term, it is guaranteed to be wrong.
My honest opinion about the 8-hour diet
I can not imagine that someone on earth will find the 8-hour diet difficult. Although it sounds pretty heavy not to eat at 4 o’clock, this turns out to be very bad in practice.
If you decide to take your first bite at 10:00 in the morning, you have to take your last bite at 18:00 in the evening. To make it more practical, you can also start eating at 10:30. Then you have until 18:30 to take your last bite.
As a result, you have an 8-hour eating window and you get stuck for the rest of the day (most of which is your sleep).
Of course, it will take some getting used to in the beginning if you’ve used your whole life to take your first bite at 7 o’clock in the morning and at night before sleeping to eat a curd cheese.
But as with everything in the human body, this will also have to get used to in the long term.
Because intermittent fasting basically has no disadvantages for healthy people AND because you do not have to eat less, it does not have to be experienced as heavy from the ‘hunger’ perspective.
Even if you combine it with a calorie deficit to lose weight (faster), you will find that it does not make your waste process more difficult, but easier.
This is because you spend a lot less time ‘eating’ through your smaller eating window. If you are allowed to eat, you may, for example, eat your 1500 kcal in a relatively short period. Because of this you still get full for your feeling.
The disadvantages of the diet (if you can really count them) fall in that case really to nothing compared to the benefits. I would actually recommend every person on earth to do some form of intermittent fasting as it almost only has benefits.
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