Finding that fasting sweet spot can be difficult, especially when you’re new to this pattern of eating. You’ll want to try to strike a balance between getting all the benefits – think weight loss, improved metabolic health, and increased longevity – and not being so hungry that you can’t think straight.
So how many hours should you actually go without food?
Well, this is a very personal decision and you should consider your lifestyle and a few other factors. That said, the two common options that people often consider are the 14/10 and the 16/8 intermittent fasting methods.
Let’s take a closer look at the two to help you make the best choice for yourself.
What is The Difference Between Intermittent Fasting 14/10 and 18/6?
The main difference between 14/10 and 18/6 intermittent fasting is the number of fasting and eating hours.
The 14/10 method involves fasting for 14 hours and eating during a 10-hour window each day, while the 16/8 method involves fasting for 16 hours and eating during an 8-hour window. Let’s look at all the differences between the two:
Length of Fasting Period
With the 14/10 method, your fasting window is 14 hours, which could simply include the hours you spend sleeping and a few hours before bedtime and after waking up.
The 16/8 method, on the other hand, extends the fasting period by two additional hours, which may require more discipline and adjustment in your daily eating schedule.
Flexibility in Meal Planning
The 14/10 method offers a larger eating window of 10 hours, providing more flexibility in meal planning. You can comfortably fit in three meals and some snacks.
However, the 16/8 method, with an 8-hour eating window, often requires more strategic meal planning, typically accommodating two meals and possibly a snack.
Impact on Weight Loss and Health Benefits
Both methods can lead to weight loss and health improvements, but the 16/8 method may offer more pronounced results due to the longer fasting period.
Having less time to eat is likely to mean eating less, which is helpful for weight loss. The extended fasting window might also increase fat burn, improve insulin sensitivity, and promote autophagy – the process where your cells self-cleanse and repair (3).
Level of Difficulty
The 14/10 method might be easier for beginners since the fasting window is shorter and closer to the average time most people already ‘fast’ overnight. The 16/8 method might be more challenging to stick to, but could also be more rewarding in terms of health benefits.
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What is The Similarity Between Intermittent Fasting 14/10 and 18/6?
At their core, both 14/10 and 18/6 intermittent fasting methods follow the same principle of restricting calorie intake during specific hours. Let’s look at the similarities between the two:
Shared Principle of Time-Restricted Eating
Both the 14/10 and 16/8 methods are based on the principle of time-restricted eating. This means that irrespective of the hours designated for fasting and eating, there is a specified window of time for eating every day, outside of which you abstain from calorie intake.
Same Goal: Metabolic Health and Weight Management
The aim of both methods is essentially the same: to improve metabolic health and aid weight loss. Both methods can help to reduce calorie intake, may improve insulin sensitivity, and encourage your body to turn to stored fat for energy (1).
Flexible Meal Choices
Both methods offer flexibility in what you can eat during your feeding window. There are no strict guidelines about what types of food to eat or avoid, but it is recommended that you practice mindful eating and maintain a balanced diet.
Adaptability to Lifestyle
Both methods can be tailored to suit your lifestyle, allowing you to choose when you start and end your fasting and eating windows. For example, if you’re a night owl, you might choose to start your eating window later in the day. If you’re a morning person, you can eat earlier and finish your last meal earlier in the evening.
Can Be Practiced Daily
Both 14/10 and 16/8 methods are sustainable and can be practiced daily, without posing any significant risks to most healthy individuals. They simply restructure the timing of your meals, without imposing any drastic changes to your diet.
Both methods are thought to support autophagy, a process where your body’s cells clean house. This “fasting detox” is an important aspect of cellular health and longevity, and both fasting methods are believed to give your body the chance to run this essential maintenance (13).
Note- the full benefits of autophagy may require longer fasts (15).
14 vs 16 Hour Fast: Which Should You Choose?
Choosing between a 14-hour and 16-hour fast ultimately depends on your personal circumstances and goals.
If you’re new to fasting, have a demanding program, or are looking for a gentler introduction to fasting, the intermittent fasting 14/10 schedule might be the way to go. But if you’re seeking more pronounced health benefits and can handle a longer fasting window, the 16/8 method could be the right choice.
If You’re New to Fasting
If you’ve never tried fasting before, the 14/10 method might be the best place to start. It offers a manageable way to experiment with time-restricted eating without making drastic changes to your lifestyle.
As your body adjusts and grows comfortable with fasting you can gradually extend your fasting window if you wish.
If You Have a Busy Schedule
Your schedule plays a critical role in determining the right fasting method. If you have a packed day where you need to fuel up frequently, the 14/10 method with its longer eating window could be a better fit, allowing for regular meals and snacks.
If Your Goal is Weight Loss
While both methods can aid in weight loss, the 16/8 method might provide more significant results due to the longer fasting window. A shorter eating window means you are likely to eat less, which helps with weight loss.
However, remember to pair your fasting with a balanced diet and regular exercise for the best outcomes. If you’re eating a lot of unhealthy high-calorie foods during your eating window, you may not see the desired weight loss results.
If You Seek More Health Benefits
The 16/8 method could be a better choice if you’re aiming for more pronounced health benefits.
The extended fasting period could lead to greater autophagy, improved insulin sensitivity, and more (15). However, remember that these benefits may also depend on other factors like what you eat during your feeding window.
If You Find It Hard to Stick to Routines
The 14/10 method could be an excellent choice if you struggle with sticking to strict routines. It provides more flexibility and can be easier to integrate into your everyday life. As your discipline improves, you could consider moving towards a 16/8 routine.
Is a 14/10 Fast Effective?
Yes, a 14/10 fast is effective. When practiced consistently, it may offer the following benefits:
Promotes Weight Loss
The 14/10 method can support weight loss by naturally reducing your calorie intake (8).
Improves Insulin Sensitivity
A 14/10 fast may improve insulin resistance, making it a good option for people at risk of type 2 diabetes (10).
Contributes to Heart Health
By promoting weight loss and improving metabolic health, the 14/10 fast may help support heart health (9).
Boosts Brain Health
Animal studies have linked fasting with improved brain function and neuroprotection, which could delay the onset of neurodegenerative diseases (4).
Promotes Cellular Repair and Longevity
Improves Digestive Health
A 14/10 fast gives your digestive system a break, which might help improve various aspects of digestive health (5).
Is 14 Hours Fasting Enough for Autophagy?
A fasting period of 14 hours might not be sufficient to fully realize the benefits of autophagy.
It’s true that the process of autophagy does begin in response to stress and deprivation of nutrients – such as that which is experienced during fasting – but the exact time frame necessary for autophagy to occur is a subject of ongoing research.
It’s thought that autophagy initiates only after liver glycogen stores are depleted, around 12 hours into a fast (11).
But the full process of autophagy, resulting in cellular cleanup, is believed to peak after 24 hours (2). Therefore, a fasting period of only 14 hours may not allow enough time for the body to fully engage in autophagy and reap its benefits. However, we need more research to be able to say for sure, and there may be variation based on individual factors.
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How Long Does It Take To See Results from 14/10 Intermittent Fasting?
How long it takes to see 14/10 fasting results depends on which results you’re looking for. That’s because different benefits can manifest at different times. Furthermore, some benefits are difficult to measure.
In general, here are some of the most significant changes you might observe over time:
First Few Weeks
During this initial period, your body will start adjusting to the fasting schedule, and you’ll likely experience some hunger pangs and cravings.
You might find it challenging to stick to the fast at first, but with consistency these symptoms should subside. You might also begin to notice some weight loss as your calorie intake decreases.
By this point, you should have adapted to the fasting schedule, and it will become more natural for you.
You may start experiencing enhanced energy levels, improved focus and concentration, and better sleep quality. Your body will also continue to burn fat for fuel during the fasting window.
By now, your body should be more efficient at burning fat for energy. You may start to see significant weight loss and improvements in metabolic health markers such as blood sugar levels and insulin resistance.
With sustained consistency, intermittent fasting might offer long-term benefits like improved heart health, brain function, immune function, and cellular repair processes. It can also help you maintain a healthy weight and may reduce the risk of chronic diseases (7).
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Best Fasting Schedule for Weight Loss?
All types of fasting can aid in weight loss, as they limit calorie intake and enhance metabolic regulation (8). However, the longer the fasting period, the more significant the weight loss results are likely to be.
Of course, other factors like how consistent you are, what you eat during your eating window, and your activity level also play a crucial role.
Is It Better to Fast for 14 or 16 Hours?
Both 14-hour and 16-hour fasts can have benefits. The better choice depends on your personal goals and schedule.
If you’re new to fasting or have a very busy schedule, a 14-hour fast might be easier to maintain. However, if you’re aiming for more significant health benefits such as enhanced autophagy, a 16-hour fast might be more effective.
How Fast Can You Lose Weight with 14/10 Intermittent Fasting?
The speed at which you lose weight with 14/10 intermittent fasting depends on various factors like your current weight, diet, activity level, and consistency with the fasting schedule. However, people typically start seeing weight loss results within the first few weeks to a month.
Remember, gradual weight loss is healthier and more sustainable (12).
Why Is 16 Hours the Magic Number for Fasting?
16 hours is often considered a ‘magic number’ for fasting as it’s commonly believed to be the point at which the body enters a state of enhanced fat burning and autophagy. However, the exact timing can vary from person to person and is a subject of ongoing research.
What Happens to Your Body When You Fast for 14 Hours?
When you fast for 14 hours, your body completes its digestion and absorption of nutrients from your last meal and then enters a fasting state.
In this state, your body transitions from using glucose to using fat as a primary source of energy. This may lead to fat loss, improved metabolic health, and other benefits (6). That said, the process of autophagy may not fully initiate or peak within a 14-hour fast.
How Long Does It Take for 16/8 Intermittent Fasting To Work?
You’re likely to feel the effects of 16/8 intermittent fasting within the first few weeks, but it may take a few months for some benefits to fully manifest. How consistent you are, the quality of your diet and other lifestyle factors can also influence the timeframe for seeing results.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, both 14/10 and 16/8 intermittent fasting methods offer numerous health benefits and can be easily incorporated into your daily routine. Whether you choose to start with a 14-hour or 16-hour fast, you will need to prioritize consistency and a healthy, balanced diet to achieve the best results. Speak to your healthcare provider before starting any fasting regimen.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- A Narrative Review on Intermittent Fasting as an Approachable Measure for Weight Reduction and Obesity Management (2022, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Autophagy and Metabolism (2011, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Autophagy and Stem Cells: Self-Eating for Self-Renewal (2020, frontiersin.org)
- Fasting as a Therapy in Neurological Disease (2019, mdpi.com)
- Fasting challenges human gut microbiome resilience and reduces Fusobacterium (2019, sciencedirect.com)
- Fasting: Molecular Mechanisms and Clinical Applications (2014, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Intermittent Fasting and Metabolic Health (2022, mdpi.com)
- Intermittent fasting and weight loss (2020, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Intermittent Fasting in Cardiovascular Disorders—An Overview (2019, mdpi.com)
- Intermittent fasting: is there a role in the treatment of diabetes? A review of the literature and guide for primary care physicians (2021, biomedcentral.com)
- Liver autophagy contributes to the maintenance of blood glucose and amino acid levels (2011, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Losing Weight | Healthy Weight, Nutrition, and Physical Activity (2023, cdc.gov)
- The Effect of Fasting on Human Metabolism and Psychological Health (2022, hindawi.com)
- The effect of fasting or calorie restriction on autophagy induction: A review of the literature (2018, sciencedirect.com)
- The effect of prolonged intermittent fasting on autophagy, inflammasome and senescence genes expressions: An exploratory study in healthy young males (2023, sciencedirect.com)
- When Fasting Gets Tough, the Tough Immune Cells Get Going—or Die (2020, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)