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Should You Try Early Time-Restricted Feeding?

by | Mar 18, 2021 | EATING/FASTING

No matter the motivation behind your weight loss goal, it is critical to consider when you eat and not just what you eat—your feeding and your fasting window.  Adjusting the specific time of your regular meals may prove an essential factor in your health outcomes.

There is limited research on the long-term effect of early time-restricted feeding; however, it is considered to be an option that is deemed appropriate for most individuals seeking to lose weight, support their health or optimize healthy eating.

What is Early Time-Restricted Feeding?

The goal of early time-restricted feeding is to restrict eating to the first eight to 10 hours of the day to sensitize the body to insulin. The schedule can be flexible to some degree, meaning you can adjust the window to 6 a.m. to 1 p.m., 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., or from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. whichever 8 hour feeding window best matches your lifestyle demands. The general goal is to eat early and to avoid eating a few hours before you sleep.

Despite cultural tendencies towards night-time eating, early time-restricted feeding is more in sync with our internal clock (circadian rhythm).  

We are designed to eat during the day and rest at night when our bodies sleep. When we eat at night, it is disruptive to our physiology, and the body, instead of resting, produces insulin, although we are not requiring sugar for energy and rather store it as fat. It’s easy to understand why night-time eating is associated with an increase in both obesity and diabetes.

There are many types of intermittent fasting patterns. To truly evaluate how they will impact health outcomes, it is valuable to look at studies for each as they relate to the particular goals as outcomes for participants, especially for those who lose weight, may vary. For example, alternate day fasting, which means eating every other day, did not result in additional weight loss when compared to calorie restriction.

Studies of early time-restricted feeding found that early eating patterns (8/16, or eating for eight hours after rising and abstaining for 16 hours) compared to a 12/12 pattern could support and result in lower insulin levels normalized blood pressure—the study looked at men with prediabetes and prehypertension. They also reported less evening hunger when following an 8/16 eating/fasting schedule and shared that the eating program was a reasonable and sustainable lifestyle option.

Can you eat anything during your feeding windows?

You could eat anything you want during your feeding windows, although if you are genuinely hoping to achieve your weight loss goals, you will get better health outcomes if you choose wisely. Food that nourishes your body is ideal, as with any diet, especially when combined with early time-restricted feeding. For optimum health, choose a healthy eating program that is ideally plant-forward and promotes a variety of foods, especially vegetables, lentils, fruits, healthy fats, and whole grains, and that discourages refined or processed food and all types of sugar

Will Early Time-Restricted Feeding Help Me Lose Weight?

It makes sense that if you eat healthy food, skip snacks, and follow early time-restricted eating, you are on the right path for weight loss, especially if you increase activity and movement and practice good sleep hygiene. Our bodies use sugar for energy, and simple carbohydrates break down into sugar and are then released into the bloodstream. If we don’t require the extra energy or if we have stored energy because we are overweight or obese, the new energy is stored as fat. This storage process is managed by insulin produced in the pancreas. When we don’t eat, insulin is not required and is not generated, and thus blood insulin levels decline, which signals our bodies and the fat cells to release energy via sugar. If we reduce insulin levels enough, we are able to burn fat and lose weight.

Should Everyone Try Early Time-Restricted Feeding?

A few populations may need increased supervision to adjust their eating window with type 1 diabetes, who do not make insulin. Time-restricted eating could impact a rise and fall in blood sugar levels, and it is best to partner with a health care practitioner to make sure the blood sugar levels do not go dangerously high or low. Also, as always, anyone taking diabetes medication, individuals with an eating disorder, and pregnant women breastfeeding or trying to conceive are best seeking health consultation before adjusting their eating patterns.

Read More:

Want to Lose Body Fat? Eat A Late Breakfast and Early dinner

Effects of 8-hour time restricted feeding on body weight and metabolic disease risk factors in obese adults: A pilot study