Dr Michael Mosley spoke about time restricted eating in his latest BBC Radio 4 podcast episode. The Just One Thing host looked into the research behind extending overnight fasting and where most people go wrong when trying to implement it. He said “it’s just one thing you can incorporate into your daily routine which really could benefit your body and life”.
“It’s seven o’clock in the evening and I’m sitting down with my family to eat our evening meal,” Dr Michael introduced.
“It is a bit earlier than we usually eat and I won’t be eating again until 9.30am tomorrow morning.
“In other words, I’m going to spend the next 14 hours or so without eating or drinking anything but black tea or water.
“What I’m doing is called time restricted eating and research shows it can lower blood pressure, improve your sleep and help with weight loss and even help your risk with developing diabetes,” he explained.
“I’m not changing what I’m eating, I’m not counting calories, I’m just changing when I eat.”
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What is the science behind time restricted eating?
“What I first looked into the research around time restricted eating back in 2012, it mainly involved mice,” Dr Michael revealed.
“But since then, there have been a number of human studies which have shown that extending your overnight fast can have surprising benefits.
“A study from 2019 carried out by researches from the Salk Institute in California found that men and women, who were overweight with raised blood pressure and raised blood sugars were asked to fast overnight for 14 hours.
“They not only lost an average of 3.3kg, that’s about half a stone over three months, but they also saw significant improvement in their blood pressure and cholesterol,” he added.
“A small study by Surry University found that asking volunteers to eat a later breakfast and an early dinner led positive improvements in blood sugar and cholesterol levels after just 10 weeks.”
Why does extending your normal overnight fast by eating your dinner earlier and breakfast later help?
The Doctor said: “Partly down to internal body clocks, when we eat has a big impact on the clocks.
“If you eat late at night when you’re body is preparing for sleep that can really throw you body out of sync.
“If you eat late at night, fact and sugar will hang around in your blood stream for far longer – bad news for your heart and may also disrupt your sleep.
“It can also lead to chronic inflammation,” he told podcast listeners. “Plus, those who eat late at night tend to eat unhealthy snacks, so not surprisingly they put on weight.”
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Dr Michael spoke to Dr Emily Manoogian from the Salk Institute in California about the study and the details of time restricted eating in order to be successful.
“How tough do you have to be?” He asked. “Am I allowed a tea with some milk in it or coffee with milk in it first thing in the morning?”
She replied: “Something like milk I would say that is a hard no. Many clinical trials do allow for black coffee and black teas but there is a bit of debate to how caffeine affects glucose regulation so I would say just stick to hot water or cold water – not sparkling, just plain water outside eating window.”
The podcast host wondered: “It’s not a case of eating exactly what you want is it?”
“What you eat and how much you eat is always going to be important,” Dr Emily said.
Dr Emily’s advice for someone embracing time restricted eating
– Choose an eight to ten-hour eating window that works for you and your schedule that you can stick to every day.
– Make sure that window starts one to two hours after you wake up and ends three to four hours before you go to bed. If possible try to consume most of your calories in the first half of your day.
– Make sure you get a consistent eight hours in bed.