If you want to lose body fat without saying goodbye to all your favorite foods, you might consider time-restricted feeding as a possible option. A form of intermittent fasting that calls for changing the times when you eat breakfast and dinner, time-restricted feeding has become a popular alternative to giving up certain food groups entirely. According to new research, this method can potentially help you reduce body fat — as long as you do it right.
What is time-restricted feeding?
Unlike other highly specifc intermittent fasting plans, such as the 16:8 diet and the 5:2 diet, time-restricted feeding has a bit of a looser definition. According to the scientific journal Cell Metabolism, time-restricted feeding can generally be described as a daily eating pattern in which all food intake happens within a set period of time (usually no more than 12 hours) every day. Here's the interesting part: Time-restricted eating does not include a requirement to change the amount or quality of the food you're eating.
How to Do Time-Restricted Feeding Correctly
In an August 2018 study published in the Journal of Nutritional Sciences, researchers investigated the impact that time-restricted feeding had on dietary intake, body composition, and markers for heart disease. Researchers split the 13 participants up into two groups and instructed one group to delay their breakfast by 90 minutes and have their dinner 90 minutes earlier than normal. Meanwhile, they told the other group to eat meals at the times they normally would. None of the folks participating were asked to follow a strict diet of any sort, even those who were trying the time-restricted feeding method.
As it turned out, researchers found that the people who altered their breakfast and dinner times ever so slightly ended up losing twice as much body fat on average than the people who made no changes. On top of that, researchers also noticed that the folks who changed their mealtimes ate less overall than the people who continued with their regular routines.
In a post-study questionnaire, the people who changed when they ate breakfast and dinner reported reduced appetite as well as a cutback in snacking — especially at nighttime. That said, it's worth noting that many people in the study also admitted that time-restricted feeding would be tough to follow in the future, especially due to family and social-life obligations.
"Although this study is small, it has provided us with invaluable insight into how slight alterations to our meal times can have benefits to our bodies. Reduction in body fat lessens our chances of developing obesity and related diseases, so it's vital in improving our overall health," said lead researcher Jonathan Johnston, PhD, in a press release. "However, as we have seen with these participants, fasting diets are difficult to follow and may not always be compatible with family and social life. We therefore need to make sure they are flexible and conducive to real life, as the potential benefits of such diets are clear to see."
Time-restricted feeding might not be right for everyone, but if it fits your lifestyle, it might just be the perfect opportunity to shed that unwanted flab. Remember, always talk to your doctor before trying any new eating plan.
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