Timed Restricted Eating, aka Intermittent Fasting
Keto, Atkins, Paleo, Binge ‘N Purge…there is always a new hotness when it comes to selling health. Today’s new hotness is Timed Restricted Eating(feeding), also incorrectly known as Intermittent Fasting.
Why incorrect? Sorry, I have to get this off my chest but intermittent simply means “occurring at irregular intervals“. What we will be talking about is scheduled, regular intervals, which would not be intermittent. All semantics aside, we will still interchange Timed Restricted Eating (TRE) with Intermittent Fasting (IR) and if you ask me questions about IR, the subject below is what I will assume we are speaking about. Confused?? Let’s move on.
But first, my disclaimer…I am not an “expert”, so please speak with your doctor about any nutritional advice. Even though there is a great chance that your doctor has probably been too busy dealing with drunks and idiots, and hasn’t had the time to bone up on intermittent fasting. If that is the case, I have linked a couple of leading experts below so that you may do your own research.
So, what is timed restricted eating(TRE)? TRE is NOT a diet, it is merely a set time-frame when you can and can’t eat food, simple as that. The most popular TRE plan seems to be 16:8. That is, 16 hours of fasting (not eating), and an 8 hour window for eating. If my math is correct, that takes care of your 24 hours…you can do your own math for a leap year.
When is the best time to set your eating window? Most people like to start their window somewhere between 10am-noon, and end their window by 6-8pm. Starting the window late in the morning continues the bodies fast from when you were sleeping. Since half of ‘Merica already skips breakfast, many people already go 10-12 hours of fasting without thinking about it.
What is happening during the 16 hour window? When you are sleeping, your body is fasting. By staying in this mode upon waking you are trying to force your body into using fat for energy, instead of glucose from your Lucky Charms you had for breakfast. Science would say that your body is converting fat into keytones…for more information on that, I am sure someone in your office won’t shut up about “going keto”.
All kidding aside, what the research is starting to point to and what common sense sort of dictates, is that fasting “cleans” up the liver. If you are struggling to lose body fat, it is almost impossible when your liver is full of glucose…or if your liver has been getting its ass kicked for years on end by too much food and the SAD diet (Standard American Diet), fasting can help reset your “fatty liver”.
What should I eat during the timed feeding? McDonald’s…is not the answer. With regards to nutrition, you can follow any plan you like…the TRE just condenses the window of time to eat your same set amount of food. The same rules apply regarding calorie surplus or deficit. People have even shown health improvements while maintaining the SAD diet, but I recommend trying to stick to whole foods.
What can I eat during the 16 hour fast? Yup, people ask that question. Water…just, drink, water! A cup of coffee (8 ounce, not the giant YETI) will be fine too as there is almost zero calories in coffee. No sugar, no creamer, no fats, no butter…just plain coffee. This could be a good time to give up caffeine for awhile.
Will I feel hungry in the morning? If your diet has been carb heavy, not eating until noon will probably suck for a week. You can always try cutting carbs down for a week or two, then hit TRE. Once you get used to the fasting window, your body won’t miss the skipped breakfast.
Will it work? YES….NO….MAYBE!!! Like with anything, one day of trying something isn’t going change your life…except maybe meth…do not try meth. Seriously though, you have to go into TRE mentally knowing that some mornings may be a struggle. After a week, your body should start to adapt to the schedule. Please also understand, that it could take a month to start seeing results as getting your liver, pancreas and kidneys to function optimally can take time.
What if I workout in the morning? Good…you can deplete those glucose levels even faster. That post workout shake, save it for your afternoon snack. Most people I talk to don’t eat before their workouts already, and working out can help to suppress your appetite. Again, we circle back to the mental part of food.
Things that can make you more successful with TRE;
- Getting adequate sleep. Check out SLEEP PART 1 or SLEEP PART 2 for more info.
- Cut out alcohol. Yeah, yeah, yeah….if you are serious about any health/fitness goal, this point should be on the list. Go click SLEEP PART 2 to see what alcohol does to your sleep.
- If you fast for 23 hours per day and eat 3000 calories but only burn 2000…it will not work! This is true no matter how you schedule your eating. 6 meals per day, 16:8, 18:6, 867-5309, etc…any of these systems will work, and will NOT work depending the AMOUNT of fuel you consumer minus what you burn (and how you sleep)
- Drink plenty of water. Drink a glass upon waking, drink water during your workout, and have a glass or two throughout the morning. Add a pinch of Himalayan sea salt to one of the glasses, for some added minerals.
- TRE takes one meal decision out of the equation, and this meal (breakfast) is typically filled with delicious but unhealthy empty carbs.
- With one meal ixnayed, you now only have to focus on lunch and dinner, with maybe a snack in-between. This can make it easier to stay in a calorie deficit.
- There are less hours of the day where you are allowed to graze…less grazing, less food (usually).
- If you have trained your body to “need” carbs in the morning, this could be tougher mentally for the first week or two. Oooooor, if you like ice cream before bed like me…this would be another mental battle.
- Some people may physically feel better eating more meals spaced out during the whole day. TRE is not for everyone. Though, I do believe it will work for the majority.
Like everything…work, relationships, diets, workouts, hula hooping, etc… you get what you put in. If you try TRE, put everything into it for a month and then measure your results, both physical and mental. You can do ANYTHING for a month…then it just might become your natural routine. 🙂
If you want to go deeper into TRE (Intermittent Fasting as it is known in the media), Google can find you a ton of resources. The best podcast I have heard on this topic was done by Dr. Peter Attia, hosting a kidney specialist Dr. David Fung. (click link or download on your favorite podcast app). Another great resource on fasting or keytosis is Dom D’Agostino, Ph.D.
And as always, please email or grab me at the gym with any questions.