How Fasting 12 Hours Per Day Reduces Heart Diseases, Improves Blood Sugar Control —Report
INTERMITTENT fasting is an increasingly popular weight loss dieting strategy. Beyond weight loss, however, the diet has promising benefits that may reduce the risk of developing some chronic, lifestyle diseases.
In this feature, we explain all that you need to know about intermittent fasting, and whether it is worth the hype.
Intermittent fasting is a term used to describe a variety of eating patterns that have alternating periods of fasting — abstinence from foods — and eating.
The fasting period may last from 12 hours per day to several consecutive days, with a consistent, recurring pattern over the course of a week.
The main types of intermittent fasting are:
Modified fasting or the 5:2 diet — this type involves fasting for 2 non-consecutive days of the week, and eating normally for 5 days alternate-day fasting — fasting days are alternated with days where foods and beverages are consumed normally, without restrictions.
Time-restricted eating — This is a type of intermittent fasting that limits the “eating window” to 4–12 hours, inducing a daily fasting period of 12–20 hours. Persons are eat to satiety during their eating windows without caloric restrictions. Of these, time-restricted eating is the most popular, and maybe what most people refer to when they mention intermittent fasting.
The 16:8 pattern — eating during an 8-hour window and fasting for 16 hours each day — may be the most recommended time-restricted eating pattern.
Much of the research on intermittent fasting and time-restricted eating considers the impact of fasting on the body’s natural circadian rhythm.
The circadian rhythm, also called the circadian clock, represents the 24-hour cycle of metabolism in the body, including control of the sleep-wake cycle, blood pressure, mood regulation, and hormonal balance, to name a few.
It is influenced by light and darkness over the course of the day, eating behaviours, and the timing of meals.
A growing body of research suggests that eating for lengthy periods in the day, ranging from 12–15 hours, may disrupt the circadian rhythm and increase the risk of chronic diseases including heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes.
Thus, a major goal of fasting, specifically time-restricted eating, is to reduce the time spent eating in the day by extending the overnight fasting period.
The study of the relationship between circadian rhythms and food timing is called chrono-nutrition.
Important points to take home:
- For the 16:8 intermittent fasting method, eating an early dinner and skipping breakfast may be the easiest way to stick to the schedule.
- If you’re using the 14:10 method, you may want to start your fast at 7 or 8 pm so that you can digest dinner before going to bed.
- If you prefer the 5:2 method, make sure you don’t fast on two consecutive days.