Intermittent Fasting can be a great tool to help specifically tap into fat burning mechanisms and achieve a weight loss (and fat loss) goal.(1) But these studies are usually centered around 14-18 hour daily fasts. What if you're starting off with a 12 hour fast? Will you see any benefits by fasting for 12 hours a day? Today, I'm diving into the details of 12 hour Intermittent Fasting.
Is Fasting For 12 Hours Considered Intermittent Fasting?
There are various types of Intermittent Fasting. When we're talking about a daily, shorter fast with a daily eating window, this is usually referred to as "time restricted eating". In essence, it means that you're choosing an "eating window" to have all of your meals during a day.
This is very counter culture to many common eating patterns where one might graze, eat 6-8 meals, have a pre-bed snack and nibble on something right when they wake up. With this in mind, many Americans are likely eating from when they first wake up to when they go to bed. This eating pattern would result in about 16 hours worth of eating per day (and only 8 hours of "fasting" while sleeping).
Simply by shifting over to a 12 hour fast, you're able to provide an extra 4 hours of gut rest per day. Although a 12 hour fast is going to be on the shorter side, you are still keeping your meals to a certain window, and therefore incorporating the "time restricted eating" version of Intermittent Fasting.
Benefits Of A 12 Hour Fast
One major Intermittent Fasting benefit that will be largely missed out on with a 12 hour fast is the increased cellular autophagy (aka cell cleanup). This doesn't really start to kick in until around 12 hours of fasting which doesn't allow any time to ramp up autophagy with a 12 hour fast.
However, this doesn't mean that there aren't benefits of a 12 hour fast. See below for the top 3 benefits of fasting for 12 hours.
#1 Increased Gut Cleaning
A gut cleaning process that is only turned on when you're not eating (aka fasting) is called the Migrating Motor Complex (MMC). The MMC helps to flush out left behind food and bacteria that can lead to bloating. By adding an extra 4 hours of fasting to your daily routine by incorporating a 12 hour fast, this allows for an extra 4 hours of MMC stimulation and gut cleaning.
#2 Increased Fat Burning
One of the main perks of Intermittent Fasting is that it allows for natural dips in the storing hormone insulin.(1) Every time you eat, it causes the release of the storing hormone insulin. And when this is released, it shuts off the fat burning process called lipolysis. Therefore, while fasting, insulin levels will naturally be lower (because nothing has been eaten). This means that insulin is not there to turn off fat burning and - as a result of the naturally lower insulin levels - fat burning is allowed to turn back on.
#3 Improved Sleep Routine
Studies are finding that the closer you eat to bedtime, the worse your sleep quality.(2) By adding a 12 hour fast to your routine, you'll be able to nix the night time snacking that can disrupt your deep sleep. Not to mention, poor sleep quality is tightly linked to obesity and weight gain.(3) So if weight loss is your goal, getting better sleep by not eating too late in the evening is an important factor to consider.
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Autumn Elle Nutrition