The Truth About The 16:8 Diet

Intermittent fasting is all the rage right now and there's no diet hotter, within this particular sphere, than the 16:8 diet. As Good Housekeeping notes, you don't eat based on whether you feel hungry or full, but rather within a specific eight-hours of the day, fasting the rest of the time. 

Popular with celebrities and social media influencers alike, the eating plan, aka the 8-hour diet, is supposedly a great way to lose weight and may even lower the risk of some chronic diseases. However, it also can backfire in the long run, leading to either overindulgence or even an eating disorder due to the risk of becoming overly obsessing about food. If you're considering embarking on the hottest diet on the block, keep the following in mind when you make your decision.

The 16:8 diet isn't proven to be better than other weight-loss plans

Good Housekeeping advises the diet involves, very simply, spending 16 hours each day consuming nothing but liquids, e.g. plain water, coffee, and tea. The other eight hours, you can eat normally without worrying about calorie counting. Typically, you start fasting at night time, skip breakfast, and then eat for the first time around midday. More research is required to figure out whether the 16:8 diet actually has a significant impact on weight loss. In fact, researchers found no real difference between those who regularly do intermittent fasting and those who simply cut back on calories in general, according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine

It's worth noting, too, that any benefits from fasting can be undone during the eating hours, because it's reducing the total calories you consume that translates directly to how much weight you lose. If you load up on empty calories during those eight hours, you won't see results on the scale, per Kristin Koskinen, R.D.N. (via PopSugar). Added Eliza Savage, R.D., you should still be eating a healthy balance of proteins, fats, and carbs for optimum results — it's not a free for all (via Women's Health).

The 16:8 diet has some serious side effects

Essentially, intermittent fasting works off the idea that giving your body a break helps it to recharge faster. However, research links it to increases in bad cholesterol (via Good Housekeeping). Intermittent fasting can also make you feel dizzy, nauseated, and weak. It can even impair the body's normal hunger cues and slow down your metabolism, too, leading to overeating or disordered eating behavior down the line.

However, "It can help if someone wants to lose weight because oftentimes overeating at night is a big factor in weight gain," Beth Warren, R.D.N. told Women's Health. "Fasting will take away that obstacle." So if you're a night-time snacker, it may be worth a try even just to curb that urge. Otherwise, simply eating better could help you get back on a healthier track.