How ‘Time-Restricted Eating’ helps Your Diet

You can likely improve your health by changing when you eat rather than what you eat. We look at time-restricted eating and its benefits.

How Time-Restricted Eating helps Your Diet f

Outside of this period, calories cannot be consumed.

Time-restricted eating does not focus on what you eat but rather when you eat.

It is a common form of intermittent fasting and it focuses on limiting the hours you eat each day.

By doing so, it can help you consume fewer calories.

It may also provide health benefits, including weight loss and improved heart health and blood sugar levels.

More evidence is emerging which shows that to get the maximum benefit from your diet, you need to look at timing your meals.

Pioneering researchers such as Dr Satchin Panda, of the Salk Institute in California, have found that by giving your body daily downtime from the work of eating and digesting, you can unlock powerful repair pathways that protect against illness, ageing and obesity.

With that said, we look at what time-restricted eating is and some of the health benefits it may have on your diet.

What is Time-Restricted Eating?

Time-restricted eating (TRE) means that a person eats their meals and snacks within a specific window of time each day.

This timeframe can vary according to the person’s preference and the plan they choose to follow. Typically, the eating window ranges from six to 12 hours a day.

Outside of this period, calories cannot be consumed.

They can drink water or no-calorie beverages to stay hydrated.

In some TRE plans, people can also drink unsweetened coffee or tea with no cream.

It is a type of intermittent fasting. This refers to any eating plan that alternates between periods of restricting calories and eating normally.

Time-restricted eating may help a person eat less without counting calories.

It may also be a healthy way to avoid common diet pitfalls, such as late-night snacking. But people with diabetes or other health issues can consider speaking with a doctor before trying this type of eating pattern.

How does it Work?

The majority of adults eat for about 15 hours through the day, which does not leave enough time for cell repair pathways to engage to their fullest extent.

The long-term health effects of this can cause major problems as it loads the body with chronic physiological stress.

Time-restricted eating is a simple and manageable step that can reverse these effects.

Health Benefits

How 'Time-Restricted Eating' helps Your Diet - heaslth

Time-restricted eating can have a number of health benefits.

This includes weight loss, better heart health and lower blood sugar levels.

Weight Loss

Several studies of normal-weight and overweight people restricted eating to a window of 7-12 hours, reporting up to five per cent weight loss over 2-4 weeks.

But other studies in normal-weight people have reported no weight loss with similar eating windows.

Whether or not you experience weight loss with TRE likely depends on whether or not you manage to eat fewer calories within the eating period.

If this style of eating helps you eat fewer calories each day, it can produce weight loss over time.

However, if this is not the case for you, time-restricted eating may not be your best method for weight loss.

Improved Heart Health

Several substances in your blood can affect your risk of heart disease. One of these substances is cholesterol.

‘Bad’ LDL cholesterol increases your risk of heart disease, while ‘good’ HDL cholesterol decreases your risk.

One study found that four weeks of TRE during an eight-hour window lowered LDL cholesterol by over 10% in both men and women.

But other research using a similar duration did not show any benefits on cholesterol levels.

When participants lost weight with time-restricted eating, their cholesterol improved. When they did not lose weight, it did not improve.

Several studies have shown that slightly longer eating windows of 10–12 hours may also improve cholesterol.

In these studies, LDL cholesterol was reduced by up to 10 – 35% over four weeks in normal-weight people.

Blood Sugar

The amount of glucose in your blood is important for your health. Too much sugar in your blood can lead to diabetes and damage several parts of your body.

In the South Asian community where diabetes is prevalent, reducing the amount of blood sugar is important, therefore, TRE can be beneficial.

Several studies in normal-weight people have found reductions in blood sugar of up to 30%.

However, a different study showed a 20% increase in blood sugar.

Overall, the effects of time-restricted eating on blood sugar are not entirely clear.

Implementation

If you want to try time-restricted eating, it is suggested to do it gradually.

Simply choose a certain number of hours during which you will eat all your calories each day.

For example, start at least 30 minutes after you wake up. Consume all of your calories within a six to 12-hour period then do not eat anything at least two hours before bedtime.

Wait three to six hours between meals and avoid snacking.

Because time-restricted eating focuses on when you eat rather than what you eat, it can be combined with any type of diet.

One way to apply TRE is to skip breakfast.

When people skip breakfast, they unconsciously consume fewer calories, however, they are also less physically active.

As a result, skipping breakfast seems to have negligible effects on body weight and health – if anything, skipping breakfast may slightly worsen blood sugar regulation in lean people and reduce sensitivity to the actions of insulin (an important energy storage hormone) in obese people.

But one important detail to consider is the timing of the caloric period.

Various biological factors determine that your body responds to eating and drinking functions best relatively early after waking up.

Therefore, if you are planning to use time-restricted eating, it is likely that you will benefit if you implement it relatively early.

Combined with Exercise

Time-restricted eating has an effect when combined with regular exercise.

An eight-week study looked at TRE in young men who followed a weight-training program.

It found that the men performing time-restricted eating were able to increase their strength just as much as the control group that ate normally.

A similar study in adult men who weight-trained compared time-restricted eating during an eight-hour eating window to a normal eating pattern.

It found that the men eating all of their calories in an eight-hour period each day lost about 15% of their body fat, while the control group did not lose any body fat.

But both groups had similar improvements in strength and endurance.

Based on the studies, it suggests that you can exercise and make good progress while following a time-restricted eating program.

However, research is needed on women and those performing aerobic exercises like running or swimming.

Are there Side Effects?

To minimise side effects, it is recommended to extend your fasting window gradually.

Some of the side effects include:

  • Initial tiredness and low on energy. Essential electrolytes can support energy during this time.
  • Struggle to sleep. Some people struggle to sleep due to the drop in glucose levels and also a potential rise in cortisol levels.
  • Headaches and dizziness. Some people also experience headaches due to sugar and caffeine withdrawals. This is completely normal and will pass.

Ultimately, time-restricted eating unconsciously reduces the number of calories you are consuming.

This is because you are consuming calories within a specific timeframe, reducing habits such as snacking.

When implementing this eating plan, it is best to consult a doctor or nutritionist for guidance.

Dhiren is a journalism graduate with a passion for gaming, watching films and sports. He also enjoys cooking from time to time. His motto is to “Live life one day at a time.”

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