03 March Time Restricted Eating
Time-restricted eating: the new way to turbo-charge your weight loss, improve your health, protect against ageing, and keep your brain young.
According to TV’s “Trust Me I’m a Doctor”, Michael Mosley, who has produced this blog post for us at River Aesthetics, it’s not just what you eat, but when you eat it – and with intermittent fasting and time-restricted eating, healthy eating can be even better for you.
There is more and more evidence emerging to show that to get maximum benefit from your diet, you need to take care about how you time your meals. There are different types of intermittent fasting and I suspect that they suit different people. The version I launched was the 5:2 diet (where you dramatically restrict your calorie intake 2 days a week) while the new kid on the block is time restricted eating (TRE) where you extend your overnight fast to either 14 hours or 16 hours. With both 5:2 and TRE, you induce a state of mild ketosis (ketosis occurs when the body uses fat as its main fuel. This occurs when following a very low carb, ketogenic diet, and during intermittent fasting) and that seems to produce some widespread benefits. One of the most obvious is weight loss, but there is also some evidence that doing intermittent fasting will improve your insulin sensitivity and reduce your blood pressure. It has also been shown that putting rats on an intermittent fasting diet promotes the growth of new brain cells, but this is yet to be shown in humans.
Pioneering researchers such as Dr. Satchin Panda, of the world-renowned Salk Institute in California, have discovered that by giving your body some daily down-time from the work of eating and digesting, you can unlock powerful repair pathways that protect against illness, ageing, and obesity.
What is time-restricted eating?
Time-restricted eating, as the new approach has become known, is very straightforward. You simply ensure that for at least 12 hours within each 24-hour period, you do not consume any calories. Some people prefer to shorten their eating window further, to 10 or even just 8 hours, although recent research by Dr Panda’s team1 shows that a 12-hour period away from food is enough time to give your body significant benefits.
How does it work?
Most adults eat for about 15 hours through the day2, which does not leave enough time for cell repair pathways to engage to their fullest extent. The long-term health effects of this can be disastrous, loading the body with chronic physiological stress. Time-restricted eating is a simple and manageable step that can put all of this into reverse – and the test results prove it.
Extraordinary results in studies
In an early experiment3, Dr Panda divided mice into two groups: one that ate food freely around the clock, and one that could also eat freely, but within an eight-hour window only. Both sets of were fed high-calorie, sugary, and fatty food.
His results were astonishing. The mice that had gorged on a sugary, fatty feast had, as expected, put on huge amounts of weight, particularly a dangerous type of abdominal fat called visceral fat. They developed high cholesterol and high blood sugars, and showed signs of liver damage.
However, genetically identical mice, eating the same food but in an eight-hour window, were protected from these changes. They put on far less weight and suffered much less liver damage.
In one of the first human trials of time-restricted eating, carried out with the help of the University of Surrey, two groups of healthy volunteers ate the same food, but the group on a time-restricted eating plan (eating breakfast 90 minutes later than usual, and dinner 90 minutes earlier each day) replicated the mouse studies. They lost body fat and saw bigger falls in blood sugar levels and cholesterol than the control group.4
In another small study5, Dr Panda teamed up with Dr Krista Varady, of the University of Chicago, to see how time-restricted eating worked for obese men and women. The group who restricted their eating to between 10am and 6pm lost fat, saw a drop in insulin resistance (which is a risk-marker for type 2 diabetes) and reported improved sleep, less hunger at bedtime, and more energy.
How to keep your brain young
The Mediterranean-style diet has a critical role to play in healthy living; it is a very strong foundation for keeping your brain young and for your happiness. In fact, gut health has an important link to mental health as your gut bacteria also produces a range of chemicals that influence your brain, from “feel good” hormones like serotonin to hunger hormones.
Embracing intermittent fasting, like the 5:2, also has the potential to impact the prevention of dementia. Researchers are close to completing the first human trial on the impact of the 5:2 on the brain. The interim data is encouraging and we will be sure to keep you up-to-date on the results once they are published later this year. But I’m convinced that our brains benefit from short fasts, which is why I still do them.
Long gone are the days of believing that willpower is the key driver of weight loss success, which was my view of the world going through medical school over 30 years ago. The science we are embracing these days is such a welcome change as both the Mediterranean-style diet as well as intermittent fasting are achievable, enjoyable, and – critically – evidenced by excellent and sustainable results.”
As the studies show, the benefits of time-restricted eating are immense. In addition to the results documented in the experiments above, experiments also suggest6 that time-restricted eating can lead to –
- increased daytime alertness
- better mood
- prevention or reversal of type 2 diabetes
- improved liver function
- lowered calorie intake
- weight loss (maintained for a year after the study)
- lowered risk of breast cancer
To make the time-restricted eating work harder, eat better
To make time-restricted eating successful, eating a Mediterranean diet which includes lots of nutritious, filling, and delicious food is also key. This will ensure that your body has a plentiful supply of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals to boost the repair pathways that fasting triggers, and will help you to feel fuller for longer. In addition, a diet rich in fresh vegetables and fruit, together with probiotics, will optimise your gut microbiome and powerfully enhance your mood.
At the Fast800, we have made this easy for you. Whether you opt to follow a 5:2 schedule or an 800-calorie diet, or simply want to eat a healthy Mediterranean-style diet, our recipes are designed to combine perfectly with time-restricted eating. To find out more about how we can help, visit us at thefast800.com.
Time-restricted eating: five practical steps
- Weight loss can be a powerful motivator, so before you begin, make a note of your weight.
- It can take time to adjust to time-restricted eating, so don’t panic if you need a few weeks to work out what works best with your schedule.
- Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water can keep the hunger at bay. You can also try adding fresh ginger, a slice of fresh lemon or lime to hot water or to sparkling water. Black coffee and tea are fine to have during your fasting hours.
- Keep exercising: a fitness programme will help to keep you insulin-sensitive, which is key to preventing cravings from taking over. However, avoid endurance or highly demanding exercise on a fast day.
- As soon as you have finished the last meal of the day, brush your teeth. It’ll signal the end of eating and help you to keep away from snacks and nibbles!
The Fast800 is an innovative approach to healthy living and weight loss based on the latest scientific research. The Fast800 online programme (www.thefast800.com) has been developed in conjunction with Dr. Michael Mosley for those that need more support and guidance for achieving long lasting health.
2 Gill, Panda, (2015), A Smartphone App Reveals Erratic Diurnal Eating Patterns in Humans that Can Be Modulated for Health Benefits. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4635036/
3 Hatori, Vollmers et al (2012), Time-restricted feeding without reducing caloric intake prevents metabolic diseases in mice fed a high-fat diet. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22608008
5 Gabel, Hoddy et al (2018), Effects of 8-hour time restricted feeding on body weight and metabolic disease risk factors in obese adults: A pilot study https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6004924/
6 Longo, V., Panda, P. (2016), ‘Fasting, circadian rhythms, and time restricted feeding in healthy lifespan’ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5388543/