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Intermittent Fasting / Time-Restricted Eating
- Definition: intermittent fasting or time-restricted eating is an umbrella term for diets that cycle between periods of fasting (no eating) and periods of non-fasting (eating)
I’ve been experimenting with intermittent fasting for several months now.
I first heard about it when I was in grad school. One of my clinical instructors quoted a study that showed the only proven way to prolong life was through fasting.
Recently, I’ve been seeing more and more studies, blogs, and people talking about intermittent fasting. My friends Seth Oberst and Jeff Ford have both told me about the profound benefits of this “diet”. So like all health interventions, I thought I’d take a look at the best study out there…an experiment on myself.
At first I was skipping breakfast and only eating from 12pm-8pm.
This was terrible. It really threw my system off. I didn’t feel great. I didn’t have any energy. And I gained weight.
But I was responsible for a big part of this failure. By the time I got home from work around 5:30 I was starving. I started eating a ton of pre-dinner snacks as I was cooking dinner. Then I’d over serve myself for dinner and finish it. I was essentially eating most of my calories between 5-8pm.
Then I read some studies on the circadian cycle and how important it is when it comes to diet and weight loss (future post on this in Vol. 2). So I started trying to simply cut down the hours of eating per day. I started to trim the hours back from the latest meal. I tried to make my last meal earlier in the day.
An 8 hour cycle isn’t socially possible as a physical therapist. I can’t eat my breakfast eggs while working on someone’s shoulder. Well, maybe if it was a breakfast burrito, but that wouldn’t be good for business.
So instead I try to eat my last meal before 7pm. It usually ends up being a 10-11 hour feeding time. I also try to prepare a shake a couple times a week and skip dinner to cut the feeding time down even more.
With this type of early time-restricted feeding I’ve had a lot more success. It allows me to reap the benefits without sacrificing my social life or developing orthorexia nervosa. I feel better, have lost some weight, and have more energy.
And another important benefit…it makes day-drinking much more acceptable!
1. Some of the general benefits of Time-Restricted Feeding:
Weight loss, improved health, decreased morbidity, increased mortality, and more freedom in diet
The last benefit is worth pondering. By using time-restricted feeding as the global focus, it allows for individual variability in the details. In other words, it doesn’t limit specific foods or cause a purge from prolonged suppression. It allows people to use whatever diet works for them (paleo, vegetarian, ketogenic, etc.) in a more efficient manner.
2. Here’s a list of some of the specific benefits
Increased human growth hormone, improved insulin sensitivity, better cellular repair, improved gene function, increased metabolic rate, reduced inflammation/inflammatory markers, reduced LDL cholesterol/ blood triglycerides//blood sugar/insulin resistance, increased BDNF, increased rate of nerve cell growth, and improved resistance to oxidative stress
3. It can prevent heart disease, cancer, obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases (alzheimer’s), and increase lifespan.
Think about how many lives could be saved, how much quality of life would improve, and how much money our country could salvage if everyone understood and implemented this…
4. Intermittent fasting or early time-restricted feeding/eTRF (only eating 8am-2pm) helps with weight loss.
“The human body has an internal clock, and many aspects of metabolism are at their optimal functioning in the morning. Therefore, eating in alignment with the body’s circadian clock by eating earlier in the day may positively influence health…Researchers found that, although eTRF did not affect how many total calories participants burned, it reduced daily hunger swings and increased fat burning during several hours at night. It also improved metabolic flexibility, which is the body’s ability to switch between burning carbs and burning fats.”
5. Skipping dinner is better than skipping breakfast for intermittent fasting.
6. Listen to Rhonda Patrick. Here’s a quick summary of some of the research.
“Recent studies suggest that…
Eating within an 11-hour window was associated with a decreased breast cancer risk and reduction in recurrence by as much as 36%.
Earlier meal timing associates with improved effectiveness of weight-loss therapy in overweight and obese patients.
For each 3-hour increase in nighttime fasting duration was linked to a 20% lower odds of elevated glycated hemoglobin (HbA1C), which is a more long-term marker of blood glucose levels.
For each 10% increase in the proportion of calories consumed after 5pm there was a 3% increase in the inflammatory biomarker c-reactive protein otherwise known as CRP.
Eating one additional meal during the day (instead of the evening) was associated with an 8% decrease in CRP.
Eating within a 12-hour window improved sleep and increased weight loss in normal weight people.”
7. The Authority Nutrition always has good stuff:
8. Jess Miller has a thorough article covering the benefits of fasting, the different types, and some example protocols.
9. Keep in mind it’s not for everyone. The human species has a ton of variability. Interventions need to be tailored to the individual’s variability. A one-size fits all approach never works when it comes to health.
10. Bill Lagakos recommends caution with intermittent fasting:
“Can some people benefit from intermittent fasting? Sure, but best choose your fasting/feeding schedule wisely; keep in line with circadian rhythms as meal timing is an important zeitgeber. That means eating when the sun is up; frequency is up to you.”
The main reason I do this blog is to share knowledge and to help people become better clinicians/coaches. I want our profession to grow and for our patients to have better outcomes. Regardless of your specific title (PT, Chiro, Trainer, Coach, etc.), we all have the same goal of trying to empower people to fix their problems through movement. I hope the content of this website helps you in doing so.
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