how to do a 16 hour fast

How To Do A 16 Hour Fast – Daily Intermittent Fasting 101

The 16 hour fast is probably one of the easiest, most intuitive intermittent fasting plans to implement. It revolves around a 16 hour period of not eating (or consuming energy dense drinks), followed by an 8 hour eating window. The 16 8 diet kinda rose to prominence in the bodybuilding community with Martin Berkhan’s Lean Gains blog, where he documented his progress with daily intermittent fasting, combined with calorie and carbohydrate cycling and heavy resistance training.

I have had incredible success with fasting for fat loss with the 16 8 diet, whilst strength training with barbells and kettlebells 3 x week, but you can get some pretty great results without even doing any exercise, although I recommend it to make sure you look awesome when the fat is gone 🙂 That’s me on the right after a 10 week fasting experiment, not too shabby for a 46 year old? I got that lean using the EXACT system I turned into my Lean Fast Rapid Fat Loss 2.0 program.

The 16 8 Fast Diet Changed My Life … And Body

I got this lean doing a 16 hour fastThis article will show you EXACTLY how to do a 16 8 fast, with an example of a week’s worth of meal ideas. You’ll often hear the 16 hour fast called the 8 hour diet, the 16-8 diet, daily fasting or similar. What makes it a good style of intermittent fasting for beginners is that we’re breaking the day up into 1/3s, 3×8 = 24, with 2 x 8 hour periods of refraining from eating, and 1 x 8 hour period where you consume all your food. This also aligns really well with the way he live (or most of us).

If you have your last food intake at 8pm, which would be relatively normal for most folks, you’re ready to eat again at noon the following day, which lines up quite well with lunchtime. A meal then, perhaps a small snack mid afternoon, followed by a substantial dinner and you’re done, ready for the next 16 hour fasting period.

I wrote a book in 2014, which became a bestseller on Amazon, called The Lean Fast Diet, a 16 8 intermittent fasting program that I used to get to 9% bodyfat, and also used with many of my personal coaching clients around the world.

 Ok, let’s get into the nitty gritty of 16-8 fasting, it’s super simple, and there’s really not much to go wrong as long as you are prepared to stick to the plan and modify things as required. Not everyone does well with skipping breakfast, for some folks, it leads to binge eating later in the day. Some folks get tied up in really restricting calories, and this generally leads to failure.

On that basis, certainly for the first month or so, just focus on making good food choices and not counting anything. You may NEVER need to count macros or calories, unless you are really lean and aiming for single digit body fat for men, or fitness model body composition for females. For almost everyone else, just eat high quality food, reduce the carbs unless you are a serious strength trainee or athlete, and see how things go. My 16 8 diet and training program is designed for people who are already relatively thin, but want to take it to the next level and get ripped 🙂

Check out my definitive guide to intermittent fasting here

How To Do A 16 Hour Fasting Diet

Good Food Choices Are Still Essential For 16-8 diets
Good Food Choices Are Essential For Healthy And Sustainable Weight Loss

The 16 hour fasting diet is a daily fasting protocol, I suspect you may have gleaned that by now. It involves the skipping of a meal, usually breakfast, and fasting through till lunch. The ‘eating window’ then begins, and for most people, 2 or 3 meals within that window is the norm. And of course, because these meals tend to be larger than for someone eating 6 meals a day, you will find that you are generally not hungry at all. It will almost feel like you are feasting every day, and losing weight at the same time.

Let’s take a look at the salient points of the 16-8 fasting plan.

1. 16 hours fasting, a little more is ok too. For females, a little less can work well, perhaps 14 hours? Generally, the 16 hour fast brings about the best results, with many of the health and fat loss benefits. Longer, and you get into the realm of ‘diminishing returns’. So 16 hours is ideal.

2. Start the fast after your last evening meal. Let us take an example. You eat your last meal 3 hours before bed (a good idea) at 8:00 pm. Go to bed at 11:00 pm, and rise at 7:00 am. You enjoy a few cups of coffee in the morning with a splash of milk if desired, and go about your daily life until around midday. After a few days adapting to this, you are likely to feel super motivated and productive during this time, make the most of it. In addition, your energy levels should begin to stabilise as you move away from that ultra high carb lifestyle of toast, cereal for breakfast, and sweet snacks during the day.

You have lunch around 12 noon, comprising of a nice protein source, some salad or vegetables, and perhaps, if you are training later that day, a few carbs to help fuel that workout.

You eat your second meal at around 5:00pm, with a smaller meal, or even a treat at 8:00pm. The eating window is complete, and you repeat the process again. If you’re only going for one evening meal, it usually pays to push it out to 7pm or a little later, to try to keep your fasting window fairly close to 16 hours.

3. You will eat mostly whole foods, that have been minimally processed. Meats, fish, eggs, vegetables, salads, good fat sources. This approach to eating is not just about weight loss at any cost, it’s about re-evaluating what ‘real food’ is, and implementing what are, some pretty non-controversial ideas to help you get healthy and meet your goals. Each meal will generally consist of some meat or fish, eggs, or some other suitable protein source, some vegetables, and some carbs to fuel activity as required.

Here is a video I made a while back on 16 8 fasting, hope you like it.

EXAMPLE INTERMITTENT FASTING 16 8 DIET DAILY SCHEDULE

As an example, here is what my daily schedule tends to look like.

7:00 am – Wake, drink coffee with splash of milk, followed by 500ml of water.

I write during the morning, or do some chores, and enjoy 2-3 cups of coffee, often black, sometimes with milk.

12:00 pm Meal 1 – Generally around 1/3 of my daily food intake.

4:30 pm Training – I lift weights for around 45 minutes, and sometimes follow it with a protein shake (not essential).

6:00 pm Eat largest meal of the day, meat, veggies, carbs if it’s a training day (usually white rice or sweet potatoes)

8:00 pm Eat third meal if desired, sometimes a treat, other times, the same as the previous (I make a good load up and split it in two).

This really is the crux of the plan, there can be a few variations, such as for those training before lunch, who would tend to eat their largest meal after training.

There is ALWAYS some room for tweaking. If you go 17 hours without food one day, or 15 the next, it’s not the end of the world. Some people get really tied up in the minute details, when it’s the general approach that is important, not whether you have your lunch 10 minutes earlier than planned.

A Note On 16:8  Fast Meal Variety

I often hear from clients and visitors to my website, that they want huge amounts of variety in their diets whilst losing weight, but in many cases, this is a mistake.

Sticking with a limited number of meals, knowing how much of this, and how much of that is required, even preparing meals in larger quantities and freezing/chilling them is often a better way to manage your diet.

Of course, we are looking at a lifestyle change, but whilst you are shedding body fat, keep things simple. Don’t confuse and complicate your life with elaborate meals, just do the basics, and utilise a range of herbs, spices, etc, to give each meal a different slant.

What follows is a typical weekly menu plan, the type I use, and would recommend to clients. As we are fasting, I’ll provide 2 meals per day, lunch and dinner, but you could easily split the evening meal in two and have 3 meals a day.

I hope this infographic puts it all into context

GET YOUR FREE 16:8 DIET CHEAT SHEET AND SPECIAL INTERMITTENT FASTING REPORT HERE

GET YOUR FREE 16:8 DIET CHEAT SHEET AND SPECIAL INTERMITTENT FASTING REPORT HERE

16 Hour Fast Example Meal Plan

Here’s an example of what a week’s meal planning might look like:

Note about mornings: I enjoy coffee, and often drink 2-4 cups of coffee in the morning. Occasionally I’ll have a splash of thick cream or a 1/2 teaspoon of Xylitol in black coffee. This usually results in 20 – 30 calories in the morning before lunch. Are we ‘breaking the fast?’ Technically, perhaps, but the effect on our fat loss outcomes will be so negligible, I’d prefer to enjoy the coffee 🙂

Check out my other available whole food recipes for more ideas.

Monday

A.M 3 x Coffee with splash of milk or heavy cream / tea / green tea / water

Lunch

Medium sized piece of fruit

Tuna salad with mixed salad leaves, tomatoes, cucumber, shallots, red capsicum (peppers). Balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing.

Dinner

Stir fry rump steak with onions, zucchini, sliced mushroom, green chillies, tamari soy sauce, served on a baked sweet potato with a knob of butter.

Tuesday

A.M 3 x Coffee with splash of milk or heavy cream / tea / green tea / water

Lunch

Paper pocket baked salmon steak on a bed of seasonal vegetables.

See the recipe here

Dinner

Chicken with mixed vegetables in black bean sauce, served on a bed of basmati rice (ideal starchy carbs for a post workout meal).

Supper

Small bowl low-fat chocolate ice cream.

Wednesday

A.M 3 x Coffee with splash of milk or heavy cream / tea / green tea / water

Lunch

Perfect poached eggs with spinach and broccoli

Recipe and How-To Here

Dinner

Low-Carb Chicken Korma with rice.

The Recipe

Thursday

A.M 3 x Coffee with splash of milk or heavy cream / tea / green tea / water

Lunch

Fresh and tangy, bean, avocado, and feta salad.

The recipe

Dinner

Salmon & Coriander Fishcakes served with Big-Ass Salad

Fishcake Recipe

Supper

Protein powder and berry thick shake

1 scoop chocolate protein powder, 150g frozen mixed berries, ice cubes, water, blitz in a blender…yum!

Friday

A.M 3 x Coffee with splash of milk or heavy cream / tea / green tea / water

Lunch

Tuna omelette and a massive salad

The Recipe

Dinner

Rump steak with sautéed vegetables and oven baked sweet potato.

Saturday

A.M 3 x Coffee with splash of milk or heavy cream / tea / green tea / water

Lunch

Perfect poached eggs with spinach and broccoli … again (repeating simple meals is a good practice during the diet phase)

Recipe and How-To Here

Dinner

Tuna salad with sliced red peppers, shallots, cherry tomatoes, cucumber,  hard boiled eggs, quinoa, basil, drizzled with an olive oil and lemon juice dressing.

Supper

Bowl of ice cream as a treat

Sunday

A.M 3 x Coffee with splash of milk or heavy cream / tea / green tea / water

Lunch

Grilled fish fillet with homemade pesto sauce, served on asparagus spears and baby spinach leaves.

Dinner

Crock pot cooked beef stew with seasonal vegetables and a cauliflower and carrot mash.

There really is not much more to add on how to start a 16 hour fast. It revolves little more than skipping breakfast, moving meal timings around a little to get that 16 (ish) hour fasting window in place, and just enjoy not having to be a slave to breakfast. Just aim for good food choices, carbs to align with your activity levels, no counting calories or macro counting until you are really lean, and then, only for very short periods of time.

Leave a comment below if you have any question of a story to tell. I’d love to hear about your goals and experiences.

Related Posts That Might Interest You

Fasting To Lose Weight With The 16 8 Diet

How The 16 Hour Diet Works

Choosing The Right Intermittent Fasting Protocol

Simplified Macro Counting Guide

3 Steps To Counting Macros For Beginners

And if you’d like to learn more about  how to do a 16 8 fast, or intermittent fasting in general, check out this free report and definitive intermittent fasting guide

Check out my definitive guide to intermittent fasting here

 

7 thoughts on “How To Do A 16 Hour Fast – Daily Intermittent Fasting 101

  1. I am low carb/high fat a have lost a significant amount of fat. I was trying to do the OMAD way of eating, started feeling deprived, so I decided to return to the 16/8 protocol. I feel more comfortable doing that one. My question is I drink a glass of good red wine every night. Would I lose more weight, if I stopped? PS (I have a wine cellar) Thanks

    • Hi Linda

      Great that you are finding what works best for you. On the wine, I think the only thing you can do is try it. This is all about personal experimentation. It’s impossible for me to say that drinking or not drinking it will make a significant difference, my gut feeling is that a single glass of red wine isn’t likely to be the catalyst for you not losing weight effectively. It’s more likely to be related to some other aspect of your eating plan, but without you saying what you eat on a daily basis, your dieting history, your weight, body stats, etc, I can’t tell you much.

      All I can suggest is make sure that you’re removing processed food from your diet, that you are not eating a lot of starchy carbs unless you are doing arduous training, and see how it goes. Try a couple of weeks without the wine, take some measurements etc.

      Then let me know 🙂

      Steve

  2. Hi Steve

    I’m on a 16-18 hour fast everyday. I just miss breakfast.

    Several times in a week I miss lunch too for convenience and it ends up to be 24 hour fasts.

    What I notice overtime is that it gets easier and easier, my appetite keeps going down.

    Good thing about fasting as well is that we actually feel good for skipping meals whereas in the past I thought I was killing myself by not having a meal on time.

  3. Hi there, What is a minimum calorie amount you would suggest? I’m female ages w6 and I do pole fitness twice a week and clean for a job 3 days a week? I’ve lost 20kg but need to lose another 15 and very keen on trying this.

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