Over the years, intermittent fasting has become an incredibly popular dieting option. Although, few people know the rules and duration of the process.

So, is 12 hours enough for intermittent fasting? If that’s what you’re wondering, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, we’ll take a look at everything you need to know about the dieting routine. We’ll also take a look at how long you need to fast to lose weight.

But to give you the straight answer:
12 hours can be enough for intermittent fasting if you’re used to eating very, very often. It’s a great gradient for those with diets that are far off the rails. But to get the most benefits, you’ll likely need to work towards a longer daily fast.

How Does 12-Hour Intermittent Fasting Work?

Intermittent fasting works by limiting your food consumption throughout the day. That way, your blood sugar levels will remain low.

So, when your body needs energy, it’ll need to break down fat stores.

The majority of diets focus on what you eat on a daily basis. You have to maintain a delicate balance of caloric intake and outtake to ensure that you lose weight.

Although, with intermittent fasting, that isn’t the case. It centers around when you eat, not the number of calories you consume.

Because of that, you can force your body to break down existing fat stores.

Typically, a normal diet will consist of three meals, spread out evenly throughout the day. With intermittent fasting, the schedule is a bit different.

Instead of a specific number of meals, you choose certain time periods to eat and fast. This will help you regulate your blood sugar and lose weight.

To understand how that happens, let’s take a look at how the body stores and uses fat.

Someone with a plate of food holding an alarm clock

Human Body Fat Storage

As we eat, our bodies break down food into sugars and amino acids. We use the sugars to produce energy and the amino acids for tissue repair.

When we eat sugar, the body will send signals to the pancreas to produce insulin. It’s a hormone that we secrete to lower the amount of sugar running through our veins (as too much sugar in our blood is bad).

This will help your liver and muscle cells turn glucose into glycogen (which is basically stored sugar). The conversion allows us to store energy for future use.

Excess food intake, especially sugar, over time leads to excess fat storage. The insulin spike is where it all starts.

Does 12-Hour Intermittent Fasting Help You Lose Weight?

Intermittent fasting can help you lose weight in more than one way. For starters, the dietary routine lowers your insulin levels.

That means your body is less likely to store glycogen. In addition, to produce energy, you’ll need to break down existing fat stores.

Besides that, the process will also likely limit your caloric intake. When you fast intermittently, you can only consume food for a few hours of the day. This will make it harder for people to overeat.

However, for this to be effective, you have to fast for a certain number of hours. Typically, 10 to 12 hours is a great start to getting into a real “fasting state”.

What Are the Guidelines for 12-Hour Intermittent Fasting?

After taking a look at how intermittent fasting works, we can take a look at the guidelines. To practice intermittent fasting, you have to divide your day into two sections.

During the first period, you can eat as much as you like (don’t go crazy or anything, though). However, once the second section starts, you can’t consume any calories.

Generally, you need to fast for a minimum of 10 hours before your body breaks down fat for energy.

Because of that, there are many ways to split up the day. Some people like to divide it straight down the middle. A 12:12 ratio will mean that you fast for half the day. That may seem like a long time, but in practice, it’s quite manageable.

If you factor in sleeping periods, then you can eat for the majority of your day. To make this a little clearer, let’s take a look at an example.

If your workday starts at 9 a.m., you can have breakfast at around 8:30 a.m. In that case, you can keep eating all the way until 8 p.m. Then you’ll head to bed at approximately 11 p.m. That means you only have to fast for a few hours before it’s time for sleep.

Because of that, this version of intermittent fasting is popular with beginners. It’s easy to maintain and can help you shed weight.

The only drawback is that the process will take a long time. It’ll take a few weeks before you start noticing any significant poundage drop. You will, however, start to notice a change in your energy levels much faster. You’ll have less of a dependence on food as well.

12-Hour Intermittent Fasting Alternatives

Let’s take a look at the different versions of intermittent fasting. We’ll also dive into what makes each iteration special.

Woman showing stop sign and holding a clock, representing intermittent fasting


In this version, you’ll need to fast for about 16 hours a day, which is a bit tougher to maintain.

Instead of having breakfast before work, you’ll need to wait until lunch. This can boost your metabolism and cause larger weight drops.

Although, that may be too much for some people to handle. So, before you start this diet, it’s best to contact your doctor and ask for a complete checkup.

If people fast with any heart conditions or other issues, it can lead to severe health problems.

You can even begin the process by only fasting for 14 hours. Then, once you’re comfortable with the system, gradually increase the time constraint.


Another version of intermittent fasting requires an all-day food ban. You’ll need to spend 24 hours without eating calories.

You can still drink water, coffee, and tea, as long as you don’t add any sugar.

This is an extreme version of the diet, which means it can be quite dangerous. For starters, you should never go more than a day without food.

That means you can’t follow this schedule regularly.

On top of that, there are many side effects to following this routine. After about 16 hours, people may start to feel light-headed, irritable, and fatigued.

Because of that, if you plan on following 24:0, then it’s best to limit the fasting to one day per week.

What Are the Health Benefits of 12-Hour Intermittent Fasting?

Most people who practice 12-hour intermittent fasting do so to lose weight. While it is a way to slim down, there are many other benefits to the dietary routine.

In this section, we’ll explore what else intermittent fasting can do for you.

Lowers Risk of Diabetes

There are two main culprits behind a diabetes diagnosis. The first is an issue with insulin production.

As we mentioned, fasting for 12 hours will help regulate insulin levels in your body. This will, in turn, improve your sensitivity to the hormone.

When that happens, the chances of developing type II diabetes greatly reduce.

Besides that, being obese or overweight can also contribute to the medical condition. Because of that, as you lose weight by fasting, you’ll reduce the likelihood of diabetes even further.

Improves Heart Health

Fasting for 12 hours can also help with some heart conditions. Since you regulate your blood sugar, you’ll be able to boost your cardiac muscle performance.

Some studies even show that it can reduce blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol.

Enhances Brain Function

There are a few case studies about the effects of 12-hour intermittent fasting on the brain.

For instance, there’s a research paper outlining how fasting can reduce inflammation. This will enhance cognitive function and improve memory recollection.

On top of that, it can lower the risk of many neurological disorders. Some of these include dementia, Alzheimer’s, and a stroke.

Wrapping Up

Is 12 hours enough for intermittent fasting? The answer to that question will depend on how fast you want to lose weight and where you are starting.

Typically, a 12-hour fast is effective, but the process may be a little slow. That makes it ideal for beginners. For faster results, you may want to increase to fasting for 16 hours a day.

Yet, you should also take into account the number of times you eat during the non-fasting period. Ideally, three meals a day should do the trick.

Not only will 12-hour fasting help you lose weight, but it can also improve your health. Both your heart and brain can benefit from the process.

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