Intermittent fasting is associated with positive effects on body weight and various other health benefits. Simply limiting food intake to ten hours per day could be enough to improve psychological well-being and at the same time reduce feelings of hunger.
A research team from King’s College London examined how restricting food intake to ten hours a day affects mood, perceived energy levels and feelings of hunger. The results were presented at the European Nutrition Conference.
Advantages and disadvantages of intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting is a relatively popular weight loss method, with different time windows for daily food intake being considered. Particularly restrictive guidelines such as 16:8 (16 hours without food, eight hours of food intake) or 18:6 are often considered to have the greatest effect, although there are also critical voices here.
For example, there are doubts about long-term success in losing weight with such strict time constraints and a study from last year came to the conclusion that intermittent fasting is no more effective than simple calorie restriction.
In addition, researchers at Texas A&M University published a study at the beginning of the year that suggests a connection between intermittent fasting and eating disorders.
On the other hand, research shows, for example, how helpful intermittent fasting is against diabetes and it is also being investigated whether intermittent fasting can prevent heart failure after a heart attack.
Almost 40,000 participants
The researchers have now examined the extent to which a moderate form of intermittent fasting with eating ten hours a day and 14 hours of daily fasting can have positive effects on almost 40,000 users of the ZOE Health app.
A total of 37,545 people completed the three-week core intervention period, where they ate normally in the first week and then had a ten-hour eating window for two weeks, the researchers report.
More than 36,231 participants decided to continue intermittent fasting for a longer period of time and 27,371 participants were classified as very committed, the experts continued. The highly committed participants were 78 percent female, with an average age of 60 years and a body mass index (BMI) of 25.6.
Improved mood and more energy
The data analysis made it clear that even limiting eating to a less restrictive, ten-hour window still brings health benefits such as improvements in mood and energy levels and reduced feelings of hunger, according to the research team.
“This is the largest study outside of a strictly controlled clinic to show that intermittent fasting can improve your health in a real-world setting,” adds Dr. Sarah Berry from King’s College London.
Consistent compliance is important
It also became clear that those who practiced time-limited eating habits but maintained them less consistently did not have the same positive health effects as those who consistently followed the guidelines every day.
The researchers come to the conclusion that the health effects of food depend not only on what we eat, but also on when we eat our meals. Intermittent fasting could bring significant benefits even without further food requirements. (fp)