This also isn’t the first study to show these perks. Previous research has also found that this type of intermittent fasting—a term for any diet that cycles between periods of fasting and non-fasting—helps people to burn more fat (and less muscle) for fuel, better control blood sugar, and reduce their risk of diabetes.
But how could you possibly reap major perks only by slightly limiting when you eat by 3 to 5 hours? The simplest explanation, says study co-author Satchin Panda, is that people end up consuming less food when they stop eating sooner. For example, if you normally have a few cookies to power you through late-night Netflix sessions, then avoiding food after 8 p.m. eliminates those empty calories, along with the overnight spikes and dips in blood sugar the treats would have caused.
Another potential reason for the positive effects: Extending the amount of time we fast overnight positively affects circadian rhythms, which improves sleep and affects the function of genes that involve metabolism.
So go ahead, give it a whirl. After all, it can’t hurt, and it’s way cheaper than a juice cleanse.