London: Consuming nutritious food alone is not enough to maintain a healthy lifestyle, experts say. It's also equally important to maintain balanced intervals of fasting and food intake. Eating in a 10-hour window, and fasting for the remaining 14 hours, is associated with higher energy and mood and lower hunger levels, new results from the largest UK study have revealed.
Intermittent fasting (IF), or restricting your food consumption to a set window, is a popular weight loss regime.
A 10-hour window means limiting your daily eating schedule to 10 hours and fasting for the remaining 14 hours.
For example, if you eat your first bite at 9 a.m., you must eat your last bite by 7 p.m.
Despite some commonly promoting restrictive eating windows as low as six hours, the new study showed that even eating within a less restrictive window of 10 hours still has positive health benefits, such as changes in mood, energy and hunger.
Results from the trial were presented by researchers from King’s College London at the European Nutrition Conference on Tuesday. 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," said Dr Sarah Berry from King’s College London.
A 10-hour eating window, manageable for most people, improves mood, energy levels and hunger.
"We found for the first time that those who practised 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," she added.
For the study, 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. 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.
"The health impact of food is not just what you eat but the time at which you choose to consume your meals, and the 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," said Kate Bermingham from King’s College London and ZOE.
(With inputs from IANS)