Types of fasting, and more commonly intermittent fasting, have gained popularity over recent years for many reasons including weight loss, but it’s not a new concept. Fasting is a practice that is ingrained in human history. Ancient Greeks believed that fasting improved cognitive abilities, and also lead to better overall health & wellbeing.

So, what exactly is intermittent fasting? As the name suggests, it’s a generic term for eating and not eating intermittently, examples of which include, 16/8 Fasting; Time-Restricted Eating and Alternate Day Fasting. The appealing part of this “not diet” is that you don’t necessarily have to change what you eat, although obviously we’re not suggesting you throw your healthy lifestyle and exercise regime out the window. By giving your body the chance to enter a fasted state (and no, we’re not talking about starvation), it’s much easier for your body to burn fat, as it’s not still busy processing that last meal you had.

A recent study by the University of Alabama’s Department of Nutrition Sciences on Early Time Restricted Feeding (eTRF), has shown that eating early in the day and fasting for the remainder not only improves metabolism and prompts weight loss, it also improves blood sugar, blood pressure, and oxidative stress.

In the study, eight men with prediabetes followed an eTRF eating schedule and a typical American eating schedule for five weeks each. The eTRF schedule consisted of breakfast between 6:30-8:30am and then having the last meal of the day 6 hours later by 3pm at the very latest. By contrast, the typical eating schedule spanned over a 12-hour period. eTRF was found to reduce insulin sensitivity and dramatically lowered the blood pressure of the participants. This form of intermittent fasting aligns with the human body’s circadian rhythms in metabolism which, according to Assistant Professor Courtney Peterson, Ph.D., is super important for getting the most out of our bodies, and losing weight.

“If you eat late at night, it’s bad for your metabolism,” Peterson said. “Our bodies are optimised to do certain things at certain times of the day, and eating in sync with our circadian rhythms seem to improve our health in multiple ways. For instance, our body’s ability to keep our blood sugar under control is better in the morning than it is in the afternoon and evening, so it makes sense to eat most of our food in the morning and early afternoon.”

Intermittent fasting, paired with an earlier eating schedule, could just be the easiest way to lose weight and feel healthier too! Looks like the ancient Greeks knew what they were talking about, so we’re off to enjoy some moussaka and tzatziki before the clock strikes 3pm. Happy fasting!