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Fasting for 14 hours improves mood, sleep, hunger

A study by researchers from King's College London proves that the time one chooses to eat meals is as important as what one eats, for positive health benefits

The study found that participants didn't have to follow severely restrictive eating windows to see an improvement in their mood or hunger (Unsplash/Kirill Tonkikh)


LAST PUBLISHED 19.11.2023  |  03:00 PM IST

Intermittent fasting (IF), or limiting your meal consumption to a specific time frame, is a popular weight loss method. According to new data from the largest UK community research study of its kind, eating within a 10-hour window has positive health benefits in terms of mood, energy and hunger. The trial's findings were presented at the European Nutrition Conference by researchers from King's College London.

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With a ten-hour window, you limit your daily eating schedule to 10 hours and fast for the remaining 14 hours. For example, if you consume your first mouthful at 9am, you must finish by 7pm. Those who were consistent with their eating window had greater benefits than those who varied their eating window day to day. Despite the fact that certain intermittent fasting advocates frequently promote restrictive eating windows as short as six hours, data presented in the abstract suggest that eating within a less restrictive window of ten hours has beneficial health effects.   

37,545 people on the ZOE Health app completed the core intervention period of three weeks. Participants were asked to eat as normal for the first week and then a ten-hour eating window for two weeks. More than 36,231 participants opted for additional weeks and 27,371 users were classified as highly engaged. Highly engaged participants were 78 per cent female, with a mean age of 60 and a BMI of 25.6. Participants with a longer eating window before the intervention saw an even greater benefit to their health.

Dr. Sarah Berry from King's College London and chief scientist at ZOE said, "This is the largest study outside of a tightly controlled clinic to show that intermittent fasting can improve your health in a real-world setting. What's really exciting is that the findings show that you don't have to be very restrictive to see positive results. A ten-hour eating window, which was manageable for most people, improved mood, energy levels and hunger. We found for the first time that those who practiced time-restricted eating, but were not consistent day to day, did not have the same positive health effects as those who were dedicated every day. "

Kate Bermingham PhD, from King's College London and ZOE, said: "This study adds to the growing body of evidence showing the importance of how you eat. The health impact of food is not just what you eat but the time at which you choose to consume your meals, and eating window is an important dietary behaviour that can be beneficial for health. Findings show that we don't need to be eating all the time. Many people will feel satiated and even lose weight if they restrict their food to a ten-hour window."

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