Smart dieters know that there isn’t a magic bullet when it comes to weight loss. You need to eat the right foods, exercise, and take care to ensure everything is working to your advantage to help you lose weight. More smart dieters than ever are turning to time-restricted eating methods, like intermittent fasting, to shed unwanted pounds.
In this article, we’ll discuss:
- what time-restricted eating is,
- different time-restricted eating methods,
- the benefits of time-restricted eating, and
- how to create your own time-restricted eating plan.
What is time-restricted eating?
Time-restricted eating limits not what you can eat, but when you can eat it. This means that you condense your eating into fewer hours during the day to provide your body with longer resting periods both before and after sleep.
Of course, there’s no right way to time-restrict your eating. You may find that you enjoy eating from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. or maybe 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It’s up to you to try different intervals and gauge how your body responds.
Time-restricted eating works through a simple process: When you eat, you consume more energy than your body can use at that exact moment. Insulin rises in response, and stores the sugars you just ate either in the liver or, if consumed in excess, as fat. When you fast, your body removes this stored energy from the liver first, and then from the body. When you follow a time-restricted diet, this means that you fast more than you eat, which gives your body more time to use its stored energy before using the energy from food.
Time-restricted eating is based on studies showing that the body responds positively to long periods of fasting. Many of these studies, conducted on mice, revealed that mice gained weight when allowed to eat all day compared with 9-hour and 15-hour control groups which consumed the same number of calories in total. The study concluded that regularly fasting for 12 to 16 hours per day can dramatically affect your weight, especially if you have a diet high in calories, sugar, and fat. Thus, many humans have turned to time-restricted eating and have had great success! Read on to learn how you can do the same.
Time-restricted eating methods
As mentioned above, there isn’t one right way to time-restrict your eating. There are countless methods of intermittent fasting. Some of the most popular are:
- 16/8 method – following this method, you fast for 16 hours per day and eat in an 8-hour window you designate. This means you can eat from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m., 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., or any other 8-hour window that works with your schedule. During your non-eating hours, you should drink a lot of water. You can also drink other non-caloric beverages like coffee or tea.
- 24-hour fasts – you fast for 24 hours one or two times per week. While this is more extreme than the 16/8 method, it demands a less strict schedule than a plan which you follow every day. However, it can be difficult to fast for 24 hours when you’re first getting started. You may want to begin with a 14- to 16-hour fast and gradually work your way up to a 24-hour fast.
- 18/4 method – you fast all day and consume all your calories in a 4-hour window in the evening. This was one of the original forms of time-restricted eating and is often followed by those who eat a paleo diet rich in whole, unprocessed foods.
These are just some of the many examples of time-restricted eating methods. As you can imagine, there are countless other ways to restrict when you eat.
Now, let’s get to the most important question: why do this in the first place?
Benefits of time-restricted eating
The most obvious benefit of time-restricted eating is weight loss. It works because your body is more likely to burn fat when you’re in a fasting state and, therefore, maintain your weight. Doing so on a regular schedule by fasting and eating at the same times every day helps balance your hormones, promoting even greater fat burn and weight loss. Typically, even those who don’t make major adjustments to their diet enjoy these benefits. This implies that if you improve your diet and follow a time-restricted eating regimen, you’re even more likely to lose weight.
There are more benefits of time-restricted eating than just weight loss. These include:
- lower levels of inflammation,
- better regulation of blood sugar levels and a lower risk of developing diabetes,
more efficient detoxification,
- better regulation of hunger-regulating hormones, including leptin and ghrelin,
- better cognitive functioning and brain structures,
- better workout recovery
- lower negative effects on the body from stress.
How to create your own time-restricted eating plan
Like all things related to your diet and workout regimen, personalizing your plan is critical if you’re going to stick to it and make it work. This means that if you try one of the common time-restricted eating plans above and it doesn’t work for your body, you should try another.
The hours of these plans aren’t set in stone. In fact, women are encouraged to fast for only 14 to 15 hours at a time. This means that the easiest way to get started on your own intermittent fasting plan is by trial and error. Start with the most popular plan, and then try others for a day or two.
Most importantly, don’t feel as if you’re stuck with one plan. You can always switch it up – you might be more successful that way!
Smart dieters, give time-restricted eating a try!
If you’ve never tried time-restricted eating, it’s time you did! It’s a simple way to shed unwanted weight in a natural, effective way.
Which fasting strategy will you try first? Share your thoughts and plans in the comments below.