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Time-Restricted Eating: What Do You Think?

Is it time we trim our eating windows?

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Graphic showing time-restricted eating

Less complicated than many of the intermittent fasting options, time-restricted eating, where you simply squeeze your eating into a narrower timeframe with no requirement for overall calorie restriction, is gaining in popularity. And it’s an eating style with some research to show it may have some health benefits.

In a meta-analysis of randomized control trials published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society researchers found that, compared with a control diet with no time constraints, time-restricted eating (defined as 4–8 hours of unrestricted eating in 24 hours) resulted in improvements in total body weight and body composition (fat mass to lean mass ratio) in people who with overweight or obesity. The mean weight loss was 4.5 pounds greater in those assigned to a time-restricted eating pattern. However, the research review found there was no significant change in blood cholesterol (LDL and HDL) or triglyceride numbers.

Proponents believe the weight loss benefits and possible other metabolic perks like better insulin sensitivity arise when people better align food consumption with endogenous circadian rhythms. It’s not just what we eat that matters but also when we eat. But we still need to see longer-term studies and determine if those who do not need to lose weight can reap noticeable health benefits from shuttering their kitchens at night. Plus, are there any significant differences in 4-, 8- or 12-hour feeding windows?

Do you believe time-restricted eating is a safe and effective method for weight loss? Do you have any clients who are adhering to this eating pattern and have benefited, or not? Are you following time-restricted eating or another form of intermittent fasting? Do you think total calorie intake and the quality of those calories no matter when you consume them still matters most? Send you answers to Sandy Todd Webster @[email protected]

See also: Are There Benefits to Time-Restricted Eating?

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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