Is when you eat just as important as what you eat for weight loss?
- Skipping breakfast
- No carbs after 6pm,
- The 5 & 2,
- The 16/8 and Intermittent fasting.
Adding to the confusion of what to eat, we are now being told when to eat.
So does when we eat actually make a difference for our health or is this just further complicating an already troublesome area to navigate.
We are going to take a look at the evidence to see whether this is true or not.
All of these fad approaches to eating that require us to restrict feeding to certain times work on the concept of something called ‘intermittent fasting’. Intermittent fasting requires someone to go periods of time, generally 14+ hours without eating in an attempt to give the body some time to work without having to digest food. You will still usually eat the exact same amount of calories (amount of food) throughout the day, however, you may for instance skip breakfast and just have a bigger lunch. Fasting is not a new concept and has been practised for thousands of years as a religious ritual, by people unable to access food, even you have probably ‘fasted’ before if you were in too much of a rush for work that you skipped breakfast.
So is this good for us?
Strangely enough it seems that yes is the answer. There are loads of research articles published that have shown intermittent fasting to be beneficial for weight loss. Now this is not caloric restriction (starving yourself), although people fasting tend to eat less. This is eating between the times of 10am and 6pm as one study did over the period of 12 weeks. The period doing this unknowingly decreased their overall calorie intake and lost 2kg of fat in 12 weeks.
Another area of health where intermittent fasting is showing great promise is for type 2 diabetics. People with type 2 diabetes struggle to stabilise blood sugars and without medication it is life threatening. Weight management is generally a problem for type 2 diabetics. Intermittent fasting has proved to be a practical dietary strategy for treatment of this condition, with one study helping three type 2 diabetics to come off daily insulin injections by skipping one meal every other day.
This benefits extend further and delve into the world of anti-aging. An animal study in the US in 2014 showed that higher levels of a chemical called beta-hydroxy-butyrate in the body will result in an extended life span. This can be achieved naturally by restricting food intake (not eating) for extended periods of time, generally 14+ hours.
TIP- Studies show that high protein foods help keep us more satiated (full) for longer. This means eating foods such as eggs, beans and lentils, good quality animal meats and MHA protein powders can help to make fasting easier.
So when it comes to the times we feed, it would seem that by skipping a meal every now and then, our body is able to stabilise blood sugars, we are able to maintain a healthy body weight and potentially live longer. All of this suggests that by simply not eating for an extended period of time can actually be beneficial for your health.
We want to stress that intermittent fasting is very different from starvation. The outcomes will vary according to the individual and proper precautions should be taken with any restrictive diet.