- The Facts:A couple of new studies outline the importance of meal timing when trying to lose weight and burn fat.
- Reflect On:Why has fasting never been a medical intervention tool when it’s clearly extremely healthy and beneficial to the body in multiple ways?
Years ago, if a person withheld from eating for long periods of time in order to lose weight, it would work, but a common response from peers might have been, “Yeah, but you did it the unhealthy way.” Today, many more people are aware that caloric restriction and fasting are actually a great, safe, healthy and effective way to lose weight and shed fat from your body. In layman’s terms, when you fast, your body runs out of its glycogen (sugar) reserves, and when that happens it switches to fat burning mode. Fasting is now recognized as an effective tool to regenerate stem cells, kill cancer cells, repair damaged DNA, and help ward off and treat numerous age-related diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. It’s even been known to completely reverse type 2 diabetes. Every single study that has examined fasting or caloric restriction in living organisms has shown tremendous biological effects. Our biology is clearly built for it, and the ancients definitely knew what they were talking about. Modern day science has even confirmed it.
We don’t hear much from the mainstream medical industry regarding fasting, and the answer to that is simple, it’s because money can’t be made off of it. The science will only become popular when a pill, for example, is developed that mimics the effects of fasting. That would be unfortunate.
Long term fasts as well as intermittent fasting are, again, great ways to burn fat and lose weight, but that’s effective only when your eating periods are healthy. In my opinion, fasting combined with a whole foods, plant-based diet is what one needs to do if they want to optimize their health, and there is a tremendous amount of science to back that up.
A great place to start your research is at The Intensive Dietary Management. In addition to searching through all of the peer-reviewed literature that’s available online about fasting and caloric restriction, this blog is a great resource, which is primarily written by Dr. Jason Fung, a Toronto-based nephrologist who uses fasting to treat his diabetes patients.
On his blog, I came across some information that shows how important the times we choose to eat may be if you are looking to reduce fat and/or lose weight.
He points out an interesting study from Satchin Panda, a professor at the Salk institute. The study examined current eating happens tracked via a smartphone app.
The 10% of people who ate the least frequently, ate 3.3 times per day. That is, 90% of people ate more than 3.3 times per day. The top 10% of people ate an astounding 10 times per day. Essentially, we started eating as soon as we got up, and didn’t stop until we went to bed.
The median daily intake duration (the amount of time people spent eating) was 14.75 hours per day. That is, if you started eating breakfast at 8 am, you didn’t, on average, stop eating until 10:45! Practically the only time people stopped eating was while sleeping. This contrasts with a 1970’s era style of eating at 8am breakfast and dinner at 6pm, giving a rough eating duration of only 10 hours. The ‘feedogram’ shows no let up in eating until after 11pm. There was also a noticeable bias towards late night eating, as many people are not hungry in the morning. An estimated 25% of calories are taken before noon, but 35% after 6pm.
When those overweight individuals eating more than 14 hours per day were simply instructed to curtail their eating times to only 10-11 hours, they lost weight (average 7.2 pounds) and felt better even though they were not instructed to overtly change what they ate, only when they ate.
The circadian rhythm seems to suggest that late night eating is not good for weight loss since excessive insulin is the main driver of obesity, and eating the same food early in the day or late at night have different insulin effects. You can learn more about the circadian rhythm of fasting here.
You can find some strategies on how to go about this type of time-restricted eating here, and as Dr. Fung mentions: “It took participants 12 days on average to adjust to this way of eating, It can take up to 3 or 4 weeks to adjust. Most found the fasting period relatively easy to adhere to, but more difficult to adjust to the time restriction.”
This is just a brief write up about fasting and the importance regarding what time of day you eat if you are trying to lose weight and shed fat from your body. Please follow the links within the article for more details and information. We’ve published a number of articles on our website regarding fasting and cited lots of science, so feel free to browse through there. Some of those articles are linked earlier in this article as well. It’s not that simple, but if you want to improve your health and lose weight, fasting combined with a healthy diet and perhaps some time-restricted eating is a guaranteed way to do so.