Fasting and time restricted eating have been written about extensively in the past few years. I did intermittent fasting for about a year but now I’m doing time restricted eating – which I guess is quite similar. I generally eat between 7:30 am and 6 pm. I don’t eat after 6 pm. I’m trying to have a break of at least 12 hours between food and really striving for 14 hours. Tom eat between 2 pm and 10 pm. I much prefer eating early and letting my digestive system and my body rest when i sleep rather than digesting. Again you do what works best for you.
Meal timing – Fasting window from CFHQ
Long gone are the days of finishing dinner at 6:00 p.m. and waiting to eat until breakfast the next day at 8:00 a.m. In 2016, Shubhroz Gill and Satchidananda Panda of the Salk Institute, conducted a study in which participants logged their food intake using a smartphone app. Everything they ate was photographed, time stamped, and sent to the researchers. More than half the people studied had an eating window greater than 14 hours and 45 minutes. The average person in the study had their first meal of the day within an hour of waking and their last meal within two hours of bedtime. It’s an almost perfect reversal of the eating patterns of yore.
In the previous installment, we looked at meal frequency. This was an area of great research interest after epidemiological studies showed clear trends between higher meal frequency and improved health outcomes. Controlled studies showed meal frequency to be far less important than expected. What is now becoming clear is the importance of the time spent not eating. The time from your first meal of the day to your last is called the eating window, and the rest of the time (including while you are asleep) is called the fasting window.
After eating a meal, we are in what is known as the fed state. For the next several hours, our energy needs are met by the food we are digesting. When we are not eating, we are in the fasted state. In this state, energy must be drawn from our glycogen and fat reserves. Insulin levels drop, allowing access to this stored energy, sustaining us until our next meal. Generally, we first draw upon our glycogen stores and then fat stores. It was once feared that skipping a meal would initiate “starvation mode,” and protein from our muscles would be catabolized for energy. We’ll explore recent research that shows this fear to be misguided.