Time Restricted Eating – The Ultimate Way to Lose Weight without Dieting
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Do regular diets prove useless to you? Don’t despair. Not all people lose weight by reducing calorie intake or giving up certain foods. You just need to try something else, like time-restricted eating. Some call it the latest weight loss breakthrough. Others heard about it or have been practicing it for years. The bottom line is that it works. How exactly does it work? What does it involve? What results can you expect? Keep reading to find out!
The Basics of Time Restricted Eating
Also called time restricted feeding or intermittent fasting, it is a dietary practice that involves limiting one’s food intake to a well-established time interval every day. The remaining time gives the body a chance to process the food taken in and recover. The food intake interval may vary from one dieter to another, according to their lifestyle and weight loss needs.
The shorter the food intake interval is, the better results one can achieve. The shortest interval is 6 hours, meaning that you eat within a 6h window and fast for the remaining 18h of the day. If this seems too drastic for you or is simply not compatible with your work schedule, you can try an 8h eating interval, with 16h fasting period. The 12h interval is the easiest to stick to but does not seem to provide the same weight loss benefits.
Although time-restricted eating does not impose strict diet rules, eating healthy foods will provide better results than eating fast food and sweets. Therefore, try to stay away from processed foods, and saturated fats, and try replacing sugary foods and drinks with fruits, nuts, and tea.
The quantities matter as well. Some feel that it is acceptable to overeat on their last meal in order to avoid feeling hungry later on during the fasting interval. That means increasing one’s caloric intake and may prevent or slow down weight loss. Te best strategy is to eat fiber-rich foods that will keep you full longer, without raising your calorie intake.
Another aspect to pay attention to is the nutrient intake. Restricting your eating period and reducing the number of your meals may affect the quantity and quality of the nutrients you absorb. Try focusing on foods that are rich in protein, vitamin, and minerals, to prevent deficiencies and anemia.
Here are a few food examples: fish and seafood, beef and poultry, low-fat dairy, leafy greens (spinach, rucola, kale, parsley, etc.), legumes (green beans, carrots, beet, cucumbers, etc.), mushrooms, fruits (bananas, citrus fruits, berries, avocado, watermelon, apples, pears, pineapple, etc.), and seeds and nuts (chia seeds, flaxseed, almonds, nuts, pistachios, etc.).
The Origins of Time Restricted Eating
The idea of time-restricted eating is present in many religions as fasting. The details vary from one religion to another. For example, during the Ramadan, Muslims only eat and drink before dawn and after sunset. Other religions fast during specific days of the week or before important religious holidays.
Although time-restricted eating began to be known and understood as such only recently, many historians believe it was a common practice among our ancestors, not for its weight loss benefits, but due to the specific of their lifestyle, limited access to food, etc.
The Effectiveness of Time Restricted Eating
With so many diets available and such limited evidence to support their effectiveness, you probably care more about the odds of losing weight with this diet than you care about the restrictions it imposes. Well, we have good news for you.
A 2016 review focusing on both animal and human studies concluded that time restricted feeding can lead to lower body weight, cholesterol, glucose, and triglycerides, and could represent a viable treatment and prevention method for metabolic diseases.
A 2015 study focusing on alternate-day fasting, whole day fasting, and time-restricted eating suggests these intermittent fasting protocols can reduce body weight, body fat, total cholesterol, and triglycerides in normal, overweight, and obese subjects.
Finally, a 2016 study in which subjects consumed all calories in an 8-h window daily and performed resistance training suggests this regimen improves several health-related biomarkers, decreases fat mass, and maintains muscle mass.
The Bottom Line
Time restricted eating can be the safest and easiest way to lose weight. It does not involve giving up your favorite foods, starving, or depriving your body of valuable nutrients. All you have to do is limit the window of your daily calorie intake.
According to the available studies, the best solution would be to stick to an 8h window. For example, if you have a regular office job, your last meal for the day should be when you get home from work. A satisfactory, fiber-rich meal should be enough to keep you full until bedtime. Unsweetened green tea can be a great way to curb evening hunger and cravings.
It may be a little difficult to stick to the schedule in the beginning, especially if you are used to late night snacks. To make things easier, you can start from a 12h window, and decrease it gradually. The great news is that time-restricted eating brings about numerous health benefits.
According to the above-mentioned studies and other similar findings, besides reducing weight and body fat, time-restricted eating lowers blood sugar levels, cholesterol, inflammation, and even cancer risk. It also boosts immunity and heart health.
On top of it all, it should be easier to match with your family’s eating habits, as it does not prohibit any food categories. If they get hungry after your last meal, they can simply grab a snack. Of course, the ideal is to eat as healthy as possible and turn your diet and time-restricted eating habits into a healthy lifestyle.
One thing is certain: you have numerous reasons to give time-restricted eating a chance, and no reasons not to. Wouldn’t it be great to enjoy that dark chocolate when your body and mind crave it, to have that weekend cup of ice cream, or drink that glass of red wine over dinner, and still see the pounds melt? Now you can, by simply reducing your eating window. Try it, and let us know how it went!