This isn't the first study to show these perks. Previous research has found that this type of intermittent fasting—a term for any diet that cycles between periods of fasting and nonfasting—helps people to burn more fat (and less muscle) for fuel, get better control of blood sugar, and reduce the 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 coauthor 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.