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Key Takeaways

  • Increasing the time between meals promotes health and longevity in mice
  • The increase in healthspan and lifespan was seen regardless of diet composition or calorie count
  • Extended daily fasting could trigger repair mechanisms that would be otherwise dormant

Actions to Consider

  • Try increasing your fasting time between meals. A good start would be to abstain from eating after 8 PM
  • When you get used to this time limit, try setting it to 7 or 6 PM. Alternatively, you can move your breakfast to later or skip it altogether and have a bigger lunch. Use the Zero Fasting app to help track feeding windows.
  • Avoid snacking between meals
  • Drink more water to keep the hunger at bay between meals

Dietary habits play a crucial role in human health

The food we eat may either promote our vitality or increase our risk of developing certain diseases, it’s an essential component to living long and healthy lives.

In most cases, the mainstream approach to healthy nutrition involves restricting one’s calorie intake and avoiding certain foods. This strategy works, but it’s hard to follow for many people.

On the bright side, emerging evidence suggests that the amount of time you spend NOT eating may be much more important than the actual diet.

What is this study about?

An animal study published in the September (2018) issue of the Cell Metabolism journal researched the impact that diet, calorie count, and fasting period between meals may have on the health and lifespan of mice.

Total freedom vs. Calorie restriction vs. Prolonged Fasting

292 male mice were randomly divided into two diet groups. One of the groups consumed less sugar and fat, and more protein and fiber.

Then, both groups were broken down into three subgroups:

  • Subgroup 1 had access to food around the clock
  • Subgroup 2 consumed 30% less calories than Subgroup 1
  • Subgroup 3 received a single meal per day, but its calorie value was the same as the daily food in Subgroup 1 (no calorie restriction)

The mice in each subgroup remained on their respective diets until their natural deaths. Afterward, the scientists evaluated the health, lifespan, and age-related changes in each mouse.

So, what are the results?

The mice in both subgroup 2 and 3 were healthier and lived longer than the mice in subgroup 1. The calorie-restricted mice also had better blood glucose and insulin sensitivity levels. Interestingly, food composition had no impact on these results, so this pattern remained true even in the group that ate more sugar and fat.

To summarize, both approaches seem to promote health and longevity:

  • Consume fewer calories
  • Do not restrict calories, but reduce your feeding window time (i.e. the time between your first bite and last bite within a 24 hr period).

Conclusion

It seems that longer daily fasting times may be as effective as calorie restriction in promoting health and longevity, regardless of diet composition. 

This finding is important because some people aren’t good with calorie restriction but could easily go a few extra hours without eating. To see which approach works better for you, try both and keep track of the changes you feel in your health.

Link to study: https://www.nia.nih.gov/news/longer-daily-fasting-times-improve-health-and-longevity-mice

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