Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Diet Time

A new year invariably brings thoughts to many of us that it might be a good time to start a diet.

A Marist poll recently found that 12% of Americans have a New Year's resolution to lose weight in 2108. Another 9% want to eat healthier. An additional 9% want to exercise more and 7% have resolved to improve their health.

Traditional diets focus on the foods you eat and the amount of calories you consume in order to lose weight.

There are now those who say this is wrong. The secret to shedding pounds is to focus more on the times you eat (and the times you don't).

I got interested in "time restricted feeding" when I heard about this subject being talked about on the radio a month or so ago. It made a lot of sense to me.

I think most of us have felt the heaviness that seems to follow a late dinner or bedtime snack. There is apparently a reason our body is giving us that message.

Weight loss is easiest when the body goes at least 10 hours without eating. After that point the body begins to burn calories at a much higher rate as it seeks energy to sustain itself. Fat is also the first thing that is burned when you have fasted for that period of time. Therefore, extending the period of times between meals (or snacks) has enormous dieting benefits without doing anything more.

Credit: John Kuczala, The Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal's Sumathi Reddy wrote about what is called "time-restricted feeding" this week for those looking for a different approach for their New Year's diet resolution.

Stop counting calories. It’s the clock that counts.
That’s the concept behind time-restricted feeding, or TRF, a strategy increasingly being studied by researchers as a tool for weight-loss, diabetes prevention and even longevity.
In TRF, you can eat whatever you want and as much as you want—just not whenever you want. Daily food intake should be limited to a 12-hour window, and ideally cut down to eight to 10 hours. But you can pick the hours you want to eat. (Note: This doesn’t mean you should stuff your face with cupcakes. Experts say you should dine as you normally would. Only noncaloric drinks like water and black coffee are allowed during fasting hours.)
Despite a lack of dietary restrictions, most people following TRF end up consuming fewer calories and lose weight, according to studies and experts. Preliminary evidence also shows other health benefits of fasting for 12 hours or more, including lower blood pressure and improved glucose levels, and physiological changes linked to slowing the aging process. Researchers believe that when the body kicks into fasting-mode it more efficiently breaks down food and fat, in particular.

It appears that there also may be other health benefits to splitting your day into two halves---eating within 12 hours and fasting the other 12 hours.

TRF studies of mice—which provide the bulk of research on the strategy—have found that the body, when fasting for half a day or more, has more time to produce the components for cellular repair, break down toxins and coloring agents in food, and repair damaged DNA in the skin and stomach lining, according to Dr. Panda. There is also some evidence that TRF may reduce the risk of breast cancer.

The other advantage to TRF is its simplicity. You don't need to keep track of calories, carbs, protein or different food groups. You just have to think whether you are in your eating time zone or fasting time zone.

You can set your fasting time zone within any 12-hour period during a day but most find it is easiest to not think about food when they sleep ( I could find nothing that said you could not dream about food!). Most also have a morning schedule they need to adhere to that includes breakfast. Therefore, if you eat breakfast at 7am you need to make sure you do not eat anything after 7pm in order to get your 12-hour fast time zone in.

If you can limit your food intake to only 8 or 10 hour periods during the day it might even be better for you. However, if following this approach you may want to only follow the regimen three or four days per week.

The proponent of TRF on the radio I heard claims that following this regimen has the potential of allowing as much as 10-15% loss in body fat in a year simply by watching the clock rather than watching the calories.

Helpful advice for anyone who thinks it is time to think about a New Year's diet.


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