You’ve probably heard that it has numerous benefits, but what kind of fasting diet works without making you starve?

Research has found that daily fasting, or eating in a 10-hour window, could help you slim down while protecting against obesity and type 2 diabetes.

“For many of us, the day begins with a cup of coffee first thing in the morning and ends with a bedtime snack 14 or 15 hours later,” says Satchidananda Panda, a professor in Salk’s Regulatory Biology Laboratory and the senior author of the new paper. “But restricting food intake to 10 hours a day and fasting the rest, can lead to better health, regardless of our biological clock.”

But what does eating in a 10-hour window look like?

It could mean eating breakfast at 8am and supper, your last meal for the day, at 6pm.

WIN a R 2,000 Woolworths Voucher

Subscribe to our Free Daily All4Women Newsletter to enter

From fat to fit

Scientists at the Salk Institute found that mice lacking the biological clocks thought to be necessary for a healthy metabolism could still be protected against obesity and metabolic diseases by having their daily access to food restricted to a 10-hour window.

Mice allowed 24-hour access to a high-fat diet became obese and developed a slew of metabolic diseases including high cholesterol, fatty liver and diabetes. But these same mice, when restricted to the high-fat diet for a daily 8- to 10-hour window became lean, fit and healthy.

This suggests that the health problems associated with disruptions to animals’ 24-hour rhythms of activity and rest – which in humans is linked to eating for most of the day or doing shift work – can be corrected by eating all calories within a 10-hour window.

How fasting slows down ageing

“…Restricting food intake to 10 hours a day and fasting the rest, can lead to better health, regardless of our biological clock.” – Prof Satchidananda Panda

Why this kind of fasting works

In the study, scientists attributed the health benefits to keeping the mice in better sync with their cellular clocks – for example, by eating most of the calories when genes for digestion were more active.

Could it work for humans?

Yes. Every cell in mammals’ bodies operates on a 24-hour cycle known as the circadian rhythm – cellular cycles that govern when various genes are active. For example, in humans, genes for digestion are more active earlier in the day while genes for cellular repair are more active at night.

The researchers say that a simple lifestyle such as eating all food within 10 hours can restore balance, stave off metabolic diseases and maintain health.

“Many of us may have one or more disease-causing defective genes that make us feel helpless and destined to be sick. The finding that a good lifestyle can beat the bad effects of defective genes opens new hope to stay healthy,” says Prof Panda.

Join the study and slim down

The lab next plans to study whether eating within eight to 10 hours can prevent or reverse many diseases of ageing, as well as looking at how the current study could apply to humans.

You can join their studies from their website,, download an app and get guidance on how to adopt an optimum daily eating-fasting cycle.

By collecting daily eating and health status data from thousands of people, the lab hopes to gain a better understanding of how a daily eating-fasting cycle sustains health.

Source: Salk Institute via

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.