More on Intermittent Fasting – Time Restricted Eating

 There is plenty not to like about Covid -19 —  the increasingly  huge numbers of people who are ill, who have died, who are afraid of being afflicted by the virus, who are out of work, and who are disappointed about cancellation of major events, ( some of them pivotal),  is just the beginning of the list.

Even worse, in my mind, is the painful uncertainty of when it will go away, the very vague prospect of normalcy, and the worry that comes with all of it.

It’s hard not to be anxious, even in a case like mine. I am comfortable at home, mostly, have food on the table and other necessities that thousands of people are lacking these days.  So, it’s hard to complain. But, truth be told, I acknowledge that the just-under-the-surface anxiety I experience means too many trips to the refrigerator and other kitchen places where I can find a quick fix snack to ease the tension.

It’s all a joke, of course. Compulsive eating never really fixes anything, as my health coaching clients and I discuss regularly.

Consider then, Time Restricted Eating

It is one strategy that can help bring control to our lives, just when we have lost so much stability and control that we can do nothing about.  We can choose to make good healthy choices about our own health and well-being, even in the face of so many annoyances, sadnesses, and tragedies.

Intermittent Fasting is an Ancient Secret of Health.

You can see it’s development and history here, and some ways to get started with it right here. It is a broad term that refers to multiple specific eating patterns. Each of its many types includes fasting periods that are longer than the typical overnight fast of 8-12 hours.

Time restricted eating, a form of intermittent fasting, is gaining ground these days as an effective weight loss measure which includes additional benefits.

Also called “time restricted feeding,” it means limiting eating periods to within a certain number of hours during the day, and fasting through the rest.  One choice, for example, would be eating from 10:00 am until 6 pm (an eight hour period), then fasting until 10:00 the next day.

Metabolically, extending the amount of time that you spend in your day in the FASTED state (as opposed to the FED state) accomplishes many things, in a similar way that exercise does. It will decreased blood glucose and insulin levels and increase -Increase insulin sensitivity and free fatty acid mobilization, cellular fat oxidation, glucagon (the opposite of insulin), and growth hormone.

When restricted eating is repeated, it “trains” the body to more efficiently mobilize free fatty acids from fat stores so that they can be used for fuel.  The result is weight loss and many other health benefits. It helps to improve longevity mindful eating, appreciation of real whole foods, eating patterns, brain function, immune function, allergies, and asthma, digestive health, cellular regeneration and repair or  reverse diabetes and inflammation, fight cancer, normalize blood pressure, and more.

Less Feeding, More Fasting

Assuming a healthy diet, (see more here), one of the most effective and effortless ways to long—lasting fat loss is to eat two meals a day and avoid  snacking. The best way to do this may be to skip breakfast. Then, when you begin the fed state a few hours later, and your body digests and absorbs the food you just ate, insulin rises, shutting off fat-burning and encouraging excess calories to be stored as fat. It takes about 8-12 hours after the last meal to enter the fasted state, when fat begins to burn.  Fasting puts your body in a fat burning state that you rarely get to enter during normal eating patterns.

How to do Restricted Feeding.

There are a number of ways to live this way. The easiest and most possible varieties involve taking advantage of your natural overnight fast and working to extend it by delaying or skipping breakfast. At the other end of the day you work to finish eating earlier. This typically means have an earlier dinner and eliminating evening snacks, (which may be the toughest part.) Start with something manageable, and then build, the idea being to keep increasing the time of your overnight fast.

As an example, most days I don’t eat until noon, sometimes later. I finish eating by 8, which then means a 16 hour fast during the night. That’s approximately 4 hours of fat burning that would not otherwise occur. Also, it’s not a perfect system. There are days when it is best for me to eat an early breakfast and/or eat into the evening. It’s all about moving in a more fat-burning state, and there is no “perfect” model.  Just start, then work to improve on the hours of fasting. It gets easier as you go along. However you work it out, anything beyond a 12 hour window is at least somewhat beneficial towards anyone’s weight loss and health goals. Just begin.

Newfound Freedom from Food

Once you get the hang of it and are “fat-adapted,” time restricted eating can be easy, fun, enjoyable, and liberating – while you become leaner and healthier in the process. It will actually save you time, work, and effort and is literally a form of metabolic exercise.  Meanwhile, you are improving your insulin sensitivity and strengthening your fat adaptation. It frees you to eat substantial and satisfying meals later without feeling the deprivation, watching calories, and restrictions. You will gain in both productivity and free time.

Some Pointers

  • Restricted feeding works very well for most healthy individuals.  If you have diabetes or other chronic issues, check with your doctor first. Pregnant people should not fast. You’ve got a baby to build who needs a good flow of nutrition.
  • Vitamins and supplements are fine to take, as long as they are calorie-free. You may not need them, as you are eating plenty of nutrient-dense foods when you eat.
  • Switching to this kind of eating can definitely help with eating fewer calories overall thus encouraging the loss of excess pounds.
  • You don’t need to worry about losing muscle from lack of protein, as long as you eat adequate protein before and after fasting.
  • Exercise can help, especially strength and resistance work. Some studies have shown that because of the calorie deficit in restricted eating with a healthy diet, people gained more strength, than the others.
  • Drink plenty of water and non-caloric beverages while fasting.

Any intermittent fasting, including time restricted eating is not an excuse to make poor food choices. While, the “when” of eating may change, and the need for whole natural foods with high nutrient density does not. Avoid processed foods, always.

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