Intermittent fasting comes in several shapes and sizes—but the most effective could be the time-restricted approach.
It means eating your last meal early enough to allow for up to 14 hours without eating before having breakfast.
It’s the diet that is most likely to reduce your chances of developing type 2 diabetes and improve your overall health, say researchers from the University of Georgia.
“What we’ve been taught for many decades is that we should eat three meals a day plus snacking in between,” said researcher Krzysztof Czaja.
The ideal is a window of between 12 and 14 hours—which incudes the hours we sleep—without any food, including snacks.
After reviewing the evidence, the researchers found that snacking between meals was the problem. Snacking doesn’t allow the body to process a main meal, and can overload our insulin receptors, which eventually leads to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
Snacking between meals also makes it harder to lose weight—and dropping the snacks means we are eating around 550 fewer calories.
The worst time to snack is after the last meal of the day. “Avoid late-night eating. Our midnight snacks spike insulin, so instead of us going into a resting state when we sleep, our gut is working on digestion,” Czaja explained.
And when we do eat, we should make sure we’re eating more fats and less sugars, so choose eggs over sugary cereals for breakfast, for instance.