The Top 6 Health Benefits to Time Restricted Eating
By Melissa Brandon | February 24, 2020
It seems that every few years a new health fad appears and if you read any health/lifestyle articles, you have had to have seen the words “intermittent fasting”. But what does that mean and why should or shouldn’t you try it? Fasting sounds like deprivation and how can that be good for you?
Intermittent fasting is a broad term that signifies a window of time to consuming calories and then abstaining from calorie consumption. This is a voluntary style of eating and has no religious significance. There are different lengths of time that people can restrict their caloric consumption, but for the purpose of this article, I am going to focus on daily time restricted eating (TRE). In particular, time restricted eating based on our circadian rhythm.
The circadian rhythm is our sleep/wake cycle. It is 24 hours long. For the purpose of TRE, you only consume calories in a 12 hour window (7am-7pm) then you restrict calories for the remaining 12 hours, most of which you are presumably sleeping. The earlier you end eating prior to bed, the better, but even ending consumption by 7pm will reap benefits. Many proponents of this plan stress that you don’t have to count calories in your eating window which makes it easier to follow for most people.
There have been a number of studies done on obese mice, rats, as well as humans, that show many positive health benefits to TRE, including;
- Weight loss
- Improved insulin resistance (IR leads to Type 2 Diabetes)
- Decreased appetite
- Decreased blood pressure
- Helps keep gut healthy
- Helps with autophagy (cleaning out damaged cells)
These are all impressive benefits! When you restrict eating, you allow the body time to repair itself. You also eliminate late night snacking and other habits that may lead to weight gain, such as excessive alcohol consumption. While you are not supposed to eat during the fast, you can, and should, drink water.
I have consistently followed a time restricted eating plan since October of 2018. I track my fasts on an app called Zero. I typically do 5 days on and 2 days off. My window of not eating is 13-14 hours. I find that works best for me. It wasn’t an easy adjustment for me. I recommend starting with 10-12 hours and then build up from there. My biggest obstacle was waiting for coffee! But once I got over that hump, it’s been pretty easy to follow this schedule.
I would not recommend TRE or intermittent fasting to anyone who has an eating disorder or has struggled with an eating disorder in the past. Although you are not restricting the amount of calories, you are restricting the time you can eat and you can see that this window could get shorter and shorter if your eating disorder starts to take over.