You may have heard of, or tried, Intermittent Fasting (IF), a popular diet trend involving fasting and calorie restriction. Proponents use IF to lose weight, and to allow for longer periods of cellular repair during fasting periods.
Research shows IF improves insulin resistance, decreases inflammation and blood pressure, and leads to weight loss—when practiced correctly.
There are various schedules used in IF; a few common approaches are:
One problem with IF is that it is difficult to follow the fasting schedule if your work or family schedule revolves around traditional mealtimes. Managing hunger during the fasting phase, and controlling your eating during your eating periods, is also a challenge. If you go crazy and pig out on comfort foods, junk food or processed food, your efforts are lost.
Time Restricted Eating (TRE) is a similar weight loss technique, but more moderate. Research into TRE shows you gain the same physiological benefits as with IF, and it is easier for most people to follow.
Late night eating sabotages your natural rhythm, leading to increased fat storage.
TRE involves eating during an eight to twelve-hour window and fasting the remaining twelve to sixteen hours of the day. With TRE, you keep the same cycle every day, and you don’t necessarily limit your calorie consumption.
TRE is most successful when you eat according to your body’s internal clock—your circadian rhythm.
Your circadian rhythm controls how your body metabolizes energy throughout the day. Calories consumed in the morning are stored to use later in the day, so you utilize more fat stores in the morning. It’s your body’s way of planning to get you through the day without the need to overeat or eat through the night.
Late night eating sabotages your natural rhythm, leading to increased fat storage. Research shows that eating later in the day leads to weight gain, while an eating period that begins (and ends) earlier leads to weight loss, even when the foods consumed are exactly the same.
Your circadian rhythm for hunger is lowest in the morning, which is why you can sleep all night without waking up hungry. It peaks in the evening. The key to weight management is to stay ahead of the peak, so you don’t get hungry in the evening. Optimally, you should eat soon after rising and stop by 7:00 or 8:00 p.m.
In addition to weight loss and the benefits listed above, you will enjoy less nighttime gastrointestinal distress and higher sleep quality.
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