FEB 01, 2018 7:29 AM PST

Timing Is Everything in This Weight Loss Plan

Weight loss is a challenge for many people. Busy schedules don’t always allow for making nutritious meals and hitting the gym. Fast food is too available and too easy sometimes, and no one wants to work out on those cold, snowy mornings.

There are all kinds of diets people follow, but it’s hard to know what works best. Low carb, keto, paleo and the rest can be overwhelming to sort through. A new trend in weight loss has experts looking at when you eat as opposed to what you eat. It’s called Time-Restricted Feeding (TRF), and a few studies have shown that it’s useful for many. In TRF, a window of time during each 24-hour period is set aside as feeding time. Within reason, a person can eat whatever they like during this period and then, when the time is up, fast until the next day. Most plans will have a window that ends earlier in the day than some might expect. In one TRF diet, participants are told to eat from 7 am until 3 pm and then not again until the time begins again.

While diets like the Mediterranean diet, Atkins, South Beach and others have been studied, there are less than half a dozen studies on TRF. It’s a broad topic, and there are many variables, so trials are hard to design. The most recent research was at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. In that study, the window of eating was from 8 am to 2 pm. The trial had 11 participants who were overweight and the study compared meal times that were limited to earlier in the day to meal times over a more extended period. When participants limited all meals to the hours between 8 am and 2 pm, more fat was burned, and hunger swings were reduced.

Courtney Peterson, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Nutrition Sciences at UAB is the co-author on the study and explained, “Eating only during a much smaller window of time than people are typically used to may help with weight loss. We found that eating between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. followed by an 18-hour daily fast kept appetite levels more even throughout the day, in comparison to eating between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., which is what the average American does." While the study didn’t show that the TRF schedule resulted in more calories burned, there was an increase in metabolic flexibility which is when the body switches from burning carbs to fats.

It could be argued that limiting hours of feeding time to shorter amounts is the same as restricting calories since there is less time to grab a snack or have a meal. The study at UAB, however, showed that when study volunteers stopped eating at 2 pm each day, they burned more fat at night than when they had a 12-hour window of feeding time. The video below has more information on the trend of feeding schedules, take a look.

Sources: University of Alabama Birmingham, Cell Metabolism, Obesity.org

About the Author
  • I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
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