Eat Normally, Do This, and Lose Weight

If you've struggled to alter your diet to lose a little bit of weight, I may have some good news for you.  Perhaps you've eaten properly for a short time, then fall into bad habits again.  Maybe your diet consists of sensible meals but you're still not able to drop stubborn pounds.  In either case, maybe your best bet to fat burning is by changing your strategy entirely. 
Over the years, I've come to the understanding that when it comes to dropping pounds, eating is the most effective way to get there.  The phrase "abs are formed in the kitchen" is absolutely right.  Don't get me wrong, there were times that I managed my weight through exercise but it required a lot of time and I had to be careful not to overeat because of the additional physical exertion. 

The times in my life where I noticed the most effective weight loss was when there was a change in my diet.  Examples include when I went gluten-free or when I meal prepped a bunch of healthy green salads.  One time, I was really diligent in using the MyFitnessPal app and kept a detailed log in how many calories I consumed for the day.  That method was effective but I didn't want to be a calorie counter for the rest of my life.

I'm here to share another option that might be just as effective and actually requires little effort. 

A study was done featuring overweight subjects to determine the impact of "time-restricted eating." Time restricted eating is basically when one only eats within certain time window.  Usually 8-10 hours. So let's say that you eat breakfast at 9:00 am.  That would mean that you consume your last meal around 5:00pm.  In this study, the subjects were given a time window of 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. 

Here's the kicker...

During the 8 hour time window, the subjects were asked to eat as normal.  The only change to their diet was when they ate, not what they ate.  The study also included a control group who did not partake in the restricted eating regimen.  They consumed their meals from 9:30 am to 8:30 pm.  That's an 11-hour eating window. 

The results?

The non-control group lost an average of nearly 5lbs over the course of the study.  They essentially ate the same over the course of the study so what was the root cause of the weight loss?  It turns out that the time restricted eating group as a whole consumed fewer calories than their counterparts.  By simply managing the time around when they ate, these individuals naturally ate less. We all know that shaving off a few calories off here and there adds up over time.

Another thing that takes place when we eat within an 8 hour window is that we go 16 hours without eating.  During those 16 hours is when the magic happens.  Technically, 16 hours without eating is called a fast.  I know that 16 hours sounds like a lot but technically, you're asleep for most of it.  A person who wakes up at 8:00 am can eat just 2 hours after waking.   

Last summer, I was a bridesmaid at my cousin's wedding.  My younger cousin was also a fellow bridesmaid.  While growing up, she maintained a slender, lean figure.  Over the years, she had 3 beautiful children and was never able to lose the weight.  Her kids are older now so I know the residual weight is eating related.  Plus, she had her children in her teens and 20's when her metabolism was at its peak. 

We purchased our dresses way before the event at the request of the bride.  Months after purchasing the dresses, the bride asked us all to come over to try them on again in case we needed to do last minute alterations.  Everyone, including me,  was fearful that the dresses would no longer fit.  I was relieved to find out that my dress still fit.  Others, including my baby cousin, weren't so lucky.  As soon as the topic of losing weight before the wedding came up, I asked her if she ate late in the evenings.  She admitted that eating late at night was a routine.  I told her to try giving up that habit to see what happens. Weeks later, she happily proclaimed that some of the extra weight was now gone. 

When we're in a fasted state, we allow the body to turn on certain metabolic processes that don't normally occur when during the eating window.  We experience a spike in growth hormone and allow the body to tap into our fat stores for energy.  If the thought of restricting your eating to 8 hours during the day is unreasonable, start with a 10-hour window.  You might notice a difference if you're one of those people who grazes all day or consumes a lot of calories at night.  At the very least, I recommend everyone to stop eating hours before your bedtime. We know that the overnight hours are dedicated to internal cleansing and rejuvenation.  By going to bed with a full stomach, we're asking our body to focus on digestion instead of building and repair.  Also, keep in mind that humans are designed to be active during the day and sleep at night.  There are certain digestive enzymes and mechanisms that "turn off" after a certain time. For instance, our blood sugar regulars aren't as active after a certain number of hours. Which means that eating food late at night could lead to easier, faster weight gain versus eating the same meal during the day. 

Maybe test this out as an experiment for the week to see if you see any positive benefits. 

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