“Although traditional reduced-calorie diets are a very science-based way to lose weight, intermittent fasting is a good alternative that studies suggest is just as beneficial for losing weight” –Sai Das, PhD
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Time-restricted eating is eating within a specified time-frame each day. Sometimes people refer to it as fasting, and it is popular in many health and wellness circles and some religions.
It does not require one to change the foods he or she eats; it simply requires the food to be consumed within a shorter time frame.
Although, research seems to suggest that placing that window earlier in the day is more beneficial because our blood sugar control and metabolism are generally better in the morning. Regardless, time-restricted eating means fasting for a large part of the day and allowing oneself a minimized period of feeding.
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There is a trending consensus that time restricted eating causes fat loss. The fat-loss theory in time-restricted eating is analogous to lending money to somebody and then collecting interest on it every day.
You sacrifice for a period of time (no food to go into a fasted state), you get it all back (your window of time that you can eat), plus you benefit more because of the delay/sacrifice (your increased fat-burning).
In theory and analogy it is a wonderful idea. But what does the research say?
Moro et al. (2016) found that males with a background in resistance training –and that fasted for 16 hours a day–decreased their fat levels and maintained their muscle mass while maintaining the same caloric intake; those that had a background in training and maintained a regular eating schedule did not reduce their fat levels. Similarly, a pilot study on women found a significant decrease in fat for women who were involved in resistance training and followed a time-restricted diet (Smith, LeSarge, & Lemon, 2017). Although those in the women’s resistance training group maintained muscle mass while decreasing fat, the other groups did not have the same benefits; they experienced an overall weight loss, which included muscle.
A scientist from the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) – Sai Das, PhD—has commented on intermittent fasting, stating “Although traditional reduced-calorie diets are a very science-based way to lose weight, intermittent fasting is a good alternative that studies suggest is just as beneficial for losing weight” (The Buzz on Intermittent Fasting, 2017). She goes on to note that there have not been many scientific studies comparing the different intermittent regimens, so there is not a clear amount of fasting that one should follow; moreover, Das reminds readers to avoid overcompensating during feeding times.
Much more experimental, long-term studies have been done on animals, resulting in better research and substantiated conclusions.
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In a popular Youtube video—linked below in the references– Dr. Rhonda Patrick discusses the immense benefits of fasting on mice, referencing work by Dr. Satchidananda Panda. Moreover, Dr. Patrick gives her own anecdotes, stating she has experienced an increase in cardiovascular benefits. Other suggested benefits of intermittent fasting may include: cognitive enhancement and an overall increase in health biomarkers.
To me, the evidence suggests that time-restricted eating can be beneficial– especially for those that are already on a workout plan.
Whether the weight loss and/or fat burning caused during time restricted eating is as effective for those living a sedentary lifestyle, it is difficult to say; people could unintentionally cut calories during the fasting time– that and food choices are factors that must be controlled for in larger future human studies. Moreover, although food choices were not mentioned, it is still important to eat as healthy as possible. One should not expect great results while eating horrible foods daily.
If you are looking for an alternative to cutting a bunch of calories, time-restricted eating seems to be a safe and more practical way to attempt to reach your goal.
Although I have provided some research on the subject, please do your own and draw your own conclusions. I will be giving the fasting a try, limiting myself to food for 10 hours a day to start.
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Moro, T., Tinsley, G., Bianco, A., Marcolin, G., Pacelli, Q. F., Battaglia, G., & … Paoli, A. (2016). Effects of eight weeks of time-restricted feeding (16/8) on basal metabolism, maximal strength, body composition, inflammation, and cardiovascular risk factors in resistance-trained males. Journal Of Translational Medicine, 141-10. doi:10.1186/s12967-016-1044-0
Smith, S. T., LeSarge, J. C., & Lemon, P. R. (2017). Time-Restricted Eating in Women – A Pilot Study. Western Undergraduate Research Journal: Health & Natural Sciences, 8(1), 1-6. doi:10.5206/wurjhns.2017-18.3
The Buzz on Intermittent Fasting: Studies suggest intermittent fasting regimens can help with weight loss. But, long-term adherence and health benefits are uncertain. (2017). Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, 4.
Youtube interview– Joe Rogan & Rhonda Patrick:
Youtube interview– Rhonda Patrick & Satchin Panda