They say that timing is everything, and the latest research shows that it’s not so much WHAT you eat but WHEN you eat that makes a huge impact not only on waistlines but also general health.
Many of us eat from the time we get up until the time we got to bed. Now studies show that by restricting your eating to an eight-to-10 hour period, you can reduce caloric intake by as much as 20 percent and still eat the foods you love.
Plus, you may also lower LDL “bad” cholesterol, improve blood sugar levels, and stave off aging, say experts.
The diet — called time-restricted feeding or TRF — is actually a return to our primordial eating patterns, say nutritionists. Centuries ago, we ate during daylight hours, and slept when it got dark, thus ensuring healthy circadian wake-sleep rhythms that maximized the body’s metabolic, calorie-burning processes.
The gist of the TRF food plan is that you eat during a preplanned window during the day and fast the rest of the time, allowing your body’s organs to rest and repair.
Here’s an example of a TRF food plan with a 10-12 hour window:
Breakfast 8 a.m. Morning meal: omelet with cheese and spinach, coffee (no sugar).
Lunch 1 p.m. Afternoon meal: Chicken Salad sandwich on whole wheat; lettuce and tomatoes; apple.
Dinner 6 p.m. Evening meal: 6-ounce serving of salmon; steamed broccoli with butter; brown rice, glass of wine; biscotti.
Only water and coffee during the fasting hours.
TRF dieters not only lose weight they also have lower blood pressure readings and improved glucose levels. Researchers have also noticed physiological changes linked to slowing the aging process.
With TRF, you are essentially using a form of intermittent fasting, says Dr. Satchidananda Panda, a professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego, who first tracked the effect of time-restricted feeding in mice.
In 2015 he expanded his research to include humans, using a free research app he created called MyCircadianClock http://mycircadianclock.org/
The app invites any adult in the world to try the TRF technique and participate in his study to evaluate other health benefits.
“TRF activates our primordial circadian rhythms to both the brain and the body,” he tells Newsmax Health. “Having a robust circadian rhythm rebalances hormones to healthy levels, reactivates the body’s natural fat-burning mechanism, revives natural detoxifying process, gives the gut time to repair itself, nurtures healthy gut microbiome, brings down excessive inflammation, and improves sleep.”
Courtney Peterson, Ph.D. an assistant professor in nutrition sciences at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, has shown in her studies that TRF improved people’s ability to process sugar and lowered blood pressure.
“We know that primates fast for 15 hours a day in their natural habitat and that we humans process blood sugar better in the morning than at night,” he tells Newsmax Health.
“TRF is really tapping into our natural state of eating. This, coupled with the fact that our brain’s time clock gears down when it’s dark, makes it logical that we eat the bulk of our calories early in the day, when our body’s cells and our brain are at their optimum metabolically.”
Dr. Gabe Mirkin, a leading sports medicine physician and author of “The Healthy Heart Miracle,” points out that eating late at night and then going to bed causes the highest rise in blood sugar.
“It’s important to move and contract your muscles after eating so that you draw excess sugar from the bloodstream,” he says. “High blood sugar can cause fatty liver and is the root cause of most our dreaded diseases today. So eating earlier encourages muscle movement which in turn helps remove blood sugar from our blood stream.”
Dr. Julie Shatzel, a family medicine doctor at Mercy Medical Group in Folsom, California, says she’s become a proponent of TRF after coming across Panda’s study in 2012.
“Many of my patients have gone off blood pressure medications,” she says. “In some cases, I have seen a reversal of prediabetes.”
Panda emphasizes that TRF is “not a diet, but a lifestyle.”
“Just like we brush our teeth every day to maintain oral health, we should use TRF as a daily habit,” he says.
“TRF has been heavily studied in animals and for us, it is a new concept in health and nutrition and we are trying to develop a deeper understanding of when people eat and how it relates to their health. We believe that there are many more benefits of TRF that we are currently aware of. That’s why I invite people to visit our research project and participate so we can learn even more.”
Peterson notes that a smaller and earlier window of eating helps keep appetite level more even throughout the day and promotes weight loss.
“I advise my patients to follow the old adage to eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper,” she says.
“I understand that many people work late and want to have dinner with their family, but they can opt for a veggie meal or a salad at night and eat the bulk of their calories at breakfast and lunch when we are better able to process excess blood sugar.”
Panda adds: “Although we say that you don’t have to worry about what you eat when following the TRF plan, consuming processed foods makes us hungry after a couple of hours so eating foods rich in fiber, protein and healthy fats is still advisable. Natural foods are also rich in macronutrients to give you extra health benefits.”
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