Fasting for 14 hours is associated with higher energy, along with better mood and lower hunger levels, new results from a large UK community science study show.

Results from the trial were presented by researchers from King’s College London at the European Nutrition Conference in Belgrade, Serbia.

Intermittent fasting, or restricting your food consumption to a set window, is a popular weight loss regime. A 10-hour eating window means limiting your daily eating schedule to ten hours and fasting for the remaining 14 hours. For example, if you eat your first bite at 9 am, you must eat your last bite by 7 pm. 

Despite some intermittent fasting advocates commonly promoting restrictive eating windows as low as six hours, findings detailed in the abstract show even eating within a less restrictive window of 10 hours still has positive health benefits, such as changes in energy, mood, and hunger. 

Those who were consistent with their eating window had greater benefits than those who varied their eating window day to day.

“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 10-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,” says Sarah Berry, PhD, from King’s College London, in a release. 

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 10-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% 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.

“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 behavior that can be beneficial for health,” says Kate Bermingham, PhD, from King’s College London, in the release. “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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