Some people swear by the health benefits of intermittent fasting (IF). Not only does this way of eating help you lose weight, but it can also improve digestion, give you more energy, help you focus, and even slow brain aging. When your body goes through periods of fasting, it boosts the production of growth hormone, which helps you lose weight and gain muscle. It can also help regulate levels of insulin and lower blood sugar, which is helpful for people who are insulin resistant or prediabetic.
Although there are several ways to do intermittent fasting, one of the most popular forms is the leangains method, or 16:8, where you fast for 16 hours and eat only during an eight-hour window. When you fast for 16 hours, you are more likely to reap all the benefits of IF mentioned above. But what about if you only fast for 14 hours? The 14:10 method is much more manageable for people who can eat during a 10-hour window, such as having breakfast at 9 a.m. and finishing dinner by 7 p.m.
Registered dietitian Suzanne Dixon, MPH, MS, said that research suggests limiting your feeding window to between eight and 11 hours and your fasting time to between 13 and 16 hours keeps insulin levels lower for a longer period of time throughout the day.
“However, that doesn’t mean the relationship is cause and effect,” she told POPSUGAR. “It has just been observed in the literature that people who fast for 13 or more hours nightly tend to be less likely to have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, large waist circumference, obesity, and elevated blood lipids.” She added that these benefits aren’t observed in fasting windows of 12 hours or less.
Julie Upton, MS, RD, and cofounder of Appetite for Health, said that most dietitians recommend a form of intermittent fasting that fits within someone’s lifestyle, and a 14-hour fasting window is more doable than a 16-hour fasting window.
However, if you’re someone who is used to grazing all throughout the day, you may need to start with a 12-hour fasting window, then work your way up to a 14-hour or 16-hour window. “I always remind my clients that humans aren’t cows,” Julie told POPSUGAR. “We are not meant to graze for all of our waking hours.”