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The Cardiologist's Wife - Time Restricted Eating, Part Two
Mar 21, 2019

In the March issue of Occasions, I began a series on time restricted eating in which a person eats all of their meals within a set window of time each day and intermittent fasting which is a diet that alternates between longer periods of fasting and periods of eating more normally than in time restricted eating. Scientists are studying the effects of time restricted eating or intermittent fasting upon our circadian rhythm and various biological processes in our body. You can read the first article in the March issue of Jonesboro Occasionsfor a better understanding of today’s article.

Everyone is talking about time restricted eating plans or intermittent fasting diets. They appeal to those wanting to lose weight as well as those interested in better health and a longer life. But what do these plans mean for you? There are plenty of diet plans out there so it can be confusing. A time restricted diet plan is relatively easy to follow as typically you eat only during a window of time anywhere from 6 to 12 hours a day and consume no food the rest of the time. Say you finish your last meal of the day by 7 p.m. After that, you should consume no food until at least 7 a.m. or later so that at least 12 hours have elapsed between eating. It is okay to drink water or calorie free beverages. Time restricted eating may help with weight loss as it restricts food intake without counting calories or limiting types of food so that late night snacking is cut out and less overall calories may be consumed. Time restricted eating follows the eating pattern we are more used to.

There are several ways to do it but intermittent fasting may be more difficult to pull off unless you are committed. One way is to fast for 24 hours once or twice a week, only drinking calorie free beverages to stay hydrated. Another way is to eat normally 5 days a week but on two non consecutive days, eat only 500 to 600 calories. There are plenty of diets that use intermittent fasting. You can also ease into intermittent fasting by gradually increasing the hours you fast until you reach your goal.

When starting time restricted eating, many people will feel more hungry. To help, they should increase the fiber, protein and perhaps even fat content of their regular diet as these nutrients are digested more slowly, keeping you full longer. Highly processed carbs are digested quickly, leaving you empty sooner so they should be avoided. Studies show that occasionally eating outside the 12 hour window doesn’t disrupt the health benefits of time restricted eating or intermittent fasting so don’t worry about the occasional late dinner or celebration ruining your goals.

There are a few groups who should avoid time restricted eating and intermittent fasting: children and teens who are still growing, pregnant or nursing mothers, those who have or have had an eating disorder, those taking any medication that needs to be taken with food and those with certain conditions. Diabetics may be able to practice time restricted eating and may even see health benefits from doing so but low blood sugar can cause dizziness, brain fog and weakness. Always consult your physician before trying one of these diets if you have any health concerns.

The biggest take away from the research behind these diets is that we should limit our eating to a period of time more in keeping with our circadian rhythm and work on getting 7 to 8 hours rest. Most people will probably feel better and have more energy if they stick to eating within a 12 hour window instead of eating around the clock. If you are interested in learning more about circadian rhythm and how it affects your health, you may want to participate in myCircadianClock, a free app which is part of a research project to advance knowledge of biological rhythms in the real world while helping you understand your own body’s needs. Visit mycircadianclock.org.

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