Partial fasting or time-restricted eating has been shown to be the best means of keeping weight off even during festive times when we eat a lot of food.
Have you been advised by a health practitioner that losing some weight, especially around the middle, would help your health? Studies and experience show that losing weight tends to be achievable for a while, but we then encounter unavoidable pitfalls like holidays and special events that can scupper our success, undoing all the hard work. Christmas undoubtedly is one of those times. So, what’s the answer? Fasting!
There have been numerous positive studies on fasting for weight loss and for helping with health conditions, especially metabolic diseases such as diabetes. When we hear the word fasting, we associate it with a complete abstinence from food, which is the polar opposite of festive holidays such as Christmas. So why would I even suggest such a thing?
The effectiveness of fasting or time-restricted eating (TRE) (a term I prefer to fasting), has yet again been found to be the best way to lose weight. The University of Alabama this year concluded that the most effective way to drop body weight is to limit the time your daily eating times to an eight-hour window. Does it matter what time you open this eating window? The research found with ninety participants that opening the eating window at 7:00 a.m. till 3:00 p.m. seems to be the sweet spot. Combining this with a healthy, controlled diet, the participants lost as much as 13.9 lb. or 6.3 kg in 14 weeks. The TRE seemed to elevate the weight loss in the study.
The group that ate the healthy, controlled diet at normal times lost around 4 kg (8.8lb) unlike the TRE group that lost an extra 2.3kg (5lb). The participants followed this regime for six days a week — giving them one weekly “cheat day” — and they were also requested to exercise for 75 to 150 minutes a week.
So why does it work so well? Giving the body a 16-hours for digestion encourages fat burning and also, from a common-sense point of view, switches the body's energy from digestion to other important functions such as repair. The group found the study conditions easy to follow even though 3 pm is socially considered a very early time for the last meal. 40 percent of the group continued with the TRE after 14 weeks. This may be due to some of the group's positive side effects, such as improved sleep, lower blood pressure, better mood and, of course, the weight loss.
With research pointing towards TRE encouraging the body to burn fat from around 14 hours of fasting, it is easy to incorporate it into holidays as a tool to remain in control of your weight without being a festive bore. If you know you have a works Christmas party dinner at around 7 pm you could open your breakfast window at around 9 or 10a.m the next day, and Christmas Day could be your cheat day! Ho ho ho! Have a super holiday, whatever you decide!
Please note, if you are unwell, we advise you to see a healthcare practitioner.
Jamshed, H., Steger, F. L., Bryan, D. R., Richman, J. S., Warriner, A. H., Hanick, C. J., Martin, C. K., Salvy, S. J., & Peterson, C. M. (2022). Effectiveness of Early Time-Restricted Eating for Weight Loss, Fat Loss, and Cardiometabolic Health in Adults with Obesity: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA internal medicine, 182(9), 953–962. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamainternmed.2022.3050
Hoddy, K. K., Gibbons, C., Kroeger, C. M., Trepanowski, J. F., Barnosky, A., Bhutani, S., Gabel, K., Finlayson, G., & Varady, K. A. (2016). Changes in hunger and fullness about gut peptides before and after 8 weeks of alternate day fasting. Clinical nutrition (Edinburgh, Scotland), 35(6), 1380–1385. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clnu.2016.03.011 JAMAInternMed,2022;182(9):953-62