New York Times reports no benefit to time restricted eating… but what did participants in the study eat?

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The New York Times reported on a study in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) on time restricted eating, or as it is more commonly known these days, intermittent fasting. It’s important to note the study was also based on calorie restriction, which was left out of the headline, in addition to time restriction. The study showed no significant difference in weight loss or body composition between those practicing both calorie restricted and time restricted eating versus those simply practicing calorie restriction.

But now, a rigorous one-year study in which people followed a low-calorie diet between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. or consumed the same number of calories anytime during the day has failed to find an effect.

The study, published on Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, was led by researchers at Southern Medical University in Guangzhou, China, and included 139 people with obesity. Women ate 1,200 to 1,500 calories a day, and men consumed 1,500 to 1,800 calories daily. To ensure compliance, participants were required to photograph every bit of food they ate and to keep food diaries.

The bottom line, said Dr. Ethan Weiss, a diet researcher at the University of California, San Francisco: “There is no benefit to eating in a narrow window.”

Scientists Find No Benefit to Time-Restricted Eating – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

The article did not report on what the study participants ate. I don’t have a sufficient background in analyzing the study so I’ve reached out to some doctors on Twitter to see if they will review the findings.

I know from personal experience over decades of eating mainly one meal a day that I never need to restrict calories, count calories, count macros, or limit myself in any way in order to maintain my weight. I also know from personal experience if I want to lose weight I simply start restricting intake of carbohydrates, even more than I do now, and I can drop weight very quickly. If you add real fasting to the weight loss regimen, not eating for at least 3 days, you can enhance the weight loss effect even more. These things have held true to me when I waver off my normal weight range of 165 lbs. to 170 lbs.

If people are eating roughly the same number of calories but those calories are high in carbohydrates I wouldn’t expect for there to be a great difference in weight loss between the groups but I would expect some. In fact there was a small difference. The time restricted group lost around 18 lbs. while the other group lost 14 lbs.

The mean weight loss from baseline at 12 months was −8.0 kg (95% confidence interval [CI], −9.6 to −6.4) in the time-restriction group and −6.3 kg (95% CI, −7.8 to −4.7) in the daily-calorie-restriction group. 

Calorie Restriction with or without Time-Restricted Eating in Weight Loss | NEJM

The study says it’s not statistically significant but 4 lbs. is enough to make a difference to me. But, statistics is a different world and maybe 4 lbs. isn’t that big a deal if the participants are morbidly obese.

I’d like to see an opinion from a scientist or doctor that I trust.

Benefits of intermittent fasting

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There are many health benefits to intermittent fasting. Prevention magazine covers many of them. Mental health is not mentioned. How can intermittent fasting help with your mental health? You save money. If you’re practicing one of the many variations of intermittent fasting you’re most likely eating less. If you’re eating less you’re most likely not spending as much on food. Saving money has a positive effect on everyone’s mental health!

Maybe you’ve tried intermittent fasting (IF) to shed a few (pandemic!) pounds, since the hope and potential for weight loss is what this eating plan is best known for. And yes, scientists are looking into whether or not it really is effective at helping people slim down. But some studies show that IF—in which you only eat during a specified time period—may have other possible long-term health benefits as well.

“The goal with IF is improving metabolic health, reducing the risk of certain conditions such as diabetes, and increasing longevity,” says Laura Kelly, C.N.S., L.D.N., an advanced genomic nutritionist at Nutritional Genomics Institute. “One theory as to why fasting may be beneficial is that during the fasting period, the body’s cells are under mild stress, similar to exercise. The cells respond to this stress adaptively by enhancing their ability to cope with stress and to resist disease.”

Intermittent Fasting Benefits – Weight Loss, Immunity, Longevity (prevention.com)

Keto Diet and Intermittent Fasting helps woman lose 105 lbs.

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It’s not all about calories in and calories out. Although on a Keto Diet you may indeed eat fewer calories because your satiety levels are much higher. If you’re not hungry all the time you’re not eating all the time and that’s where the magic of Intermittent Fasting adds to the progress.

I lived a keto diet lifestyle for three years and lost 100 pounds. Keto was amazing for my weight loss progress. It kept me on track because it was very clear what I could eat. I tracked my calories and carbs and would very rarely eat off plan.

When I hit my goal weight I transitioned from the keto diet to macro counting and incorporated healthy carbs back into my diet.

‘The Keto Diet And Intermittent Fasting Helped Me Lose 105 Lbs.’ (womenshealthmag.com)

New scientific trial shows benefit of Intermittent Fasting

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The trial is small and the conclusion that participants lost weight because they consumed fewer calories misses the mark a little. But, at least scientists are beginning to look at what we’ve known anecdotally for a long time now.

If you’re not eating all the time there are things that happen with your hormones that help you lose weight. It’s not just the calorie reduction but also the reduction of insulin constantly getting pumped through your system. Yes, people tend to eat less if you’re limiting the number of meals per day because you can only eat so much at one sitting. But you’re also stopping the pumping of insulin that begins the process of fat storage. During the times that you’re not eating your body doesn’t have the fuel to use in your stomach so it has to start looking to your fat stores. This is the beginning of becoming fat adapted and has many beneficial health consequences.

In both of the groups that practiced time-restricted fasting, participants consumed an average of 550 fewer calories a day and lost about 3 percent of their body weight. Compared with the controls, both groups had significantly reduced fat mass, reductions in oxidative stress, and reductions in both fasting insulin and insulin resistance, which suggest a reduced risk for diabetes. Blood pressure, heart rate, cholesterol and triglyceride levels were unaffected.

New York Times

If you think you can’t do it start with cutting your snacks. Just don’t eat snacks. Next knock out one meal. Most people find breakfast the easiest to cut. Once you do that and get yourself to a eating window of just a few hours you’ll find that it was much easier to get there than you imagined.

Intermittent fasting and your health

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More and more evidence is coming out on the benefits of not eating so many times per day. Prior to modern agriculture and government intervention into our diet what is now called intermittent fasting used to be called existing.

Before modern society people didn’t wake up and make themselves a breakfast. They woke up. They most likely started thinking about gathering or hunting for food and if they were fortunate they ate at most once per day.

Doctors and scientists are finally looking into the physiology behind intermittent fasting and the results are encouraging across the board for the health of your brain and your body.

Within as little as 12 hours of going without food, the body begins to make changes to conserve energy and operate more efficiently, explains Benjamin Horne, PhD, a clinical associate professor in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at Stanford University.

With its tank of glucose, or sugar, empty, it starts burning fat and producing chemical byproducts called ketones, which circulate throughout the body, improving insulin sensitivity, dampening inflammation, and feeding the brain. Blood levels of sodium and a compound called TMAO (implicated in heart disease) plummet, while red blood cell counts rise, providing a boost for heart health. And levels of a compound called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein essential for maintaining healthy neurons, spike.

WebMD

A guy shares his thoughts on 7 years of intermittent fasting

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I’m not a body builder or a fitness guru. I’m just a regular guy. I’ve been intermittent fasting for decades. I fell into it just by chance. You can learn more about that on my about page. My experience is not like his. I never experienced intense hunger because when I changed my eating habits I did it to match up with my hunger.

I found that simply following my levels of hunger I was able to eliminate most meals. I’ve been eating one full meal a day with a small snack later in the evening for a long long time now. I don’t think it’s anything special and if I can do this so can you. In fact, now even when I eat I’m not hungry before I eat. I can go for at least 3 days without feeling hunger.

“While you might feel intense hunger in the beginning, that’s only because you’re snapping your body’s biological rhythm,” he says. “Adrenaline is released when you would usually eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. So it takes around two or three weeks for your body to adjust to the new eating window, and then you tend to get hungry when you’re about to hit that window.”

Men’s Health

What is Dry Fasting and should you do it?

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Dry fasting is when you don’t consume anything during your fast including liquids. Should you dry fast? In my opinion the answer is no. Absolutely not.

You can survive for long periods of time without eating but you will not survive for days on end without drinking. I’ve never subscribed to the idea that it is necessary to consume a certain number of 8 oz. glasses of water a day. Like eating frequently throughout the day it just doesn’t make sense.

If you practice fasting or intermittent fasting the last thing you want is to become dehydrated. That leads to all kinds of problems that you just don’t need. Drink your water, coffee, and/or tea people.

“Since your body can only survive an average of three days without water, it is not recommended to dry fast for an extended period of time or more than a 24-hour window,” Satrazemis says. If you’re exercising, abstaining from fluids can be especially dangerous and put you at risk for dehydration and heat stroke in warm weather.

“Any feelings of dizziness, fainting, rapid heart rate, or dark urine are all warning signs to look out for that would indicate you are putting your body at risk,” says Totoro. (Yikes.) If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, end your dry fast immediately, eat food, and drink water—and call your doctor if your symptoms don’t improve.

Women’s Health

Ramadan and dawn to dusk fasting

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It’s intermittent fasting but done during a different time scale. During Ramadan Muslims eat a meal before dawn, called suhoor, and eat a meal again after sunset, called iftar. In essence they have two fasting cycles. One while they sleep and the other during the middle of the day. This is similar to a 20:4 or 22:2 cycle for fasting depending on how long their time is for eating their meals.

I think this shows more and more that the advice we’ve been given for so long regarding eating multiple meals a day is wrong. We are animals at our core and our bodies are designed to eat as we would if we were not civilized. That means most of the time we would not be eating. Wild animals don’t have refrigerators and pantries stocked with food. They have to catch, kill, and/or find what they need to eat.

The timing of these two meals and the fast itself may hold the key to a healthier life, said Mindikoglu, who is board-certified in internal medicine, gastroenterology and transplant hepatology.

The study, led by Mindikoglu, found that dawn-to-sunset fasting was associated with proteins protective against cancer, as well as obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, inflammation and some neurological disorders.

“Intermittent fasting has become very popular in the treatment of many chronic diseases, including cancer,” said Mindikoglu, who began designing the research in 2014.

houstonchronicle.com

Warrior Diet; Intermittent Fasting in disguise?

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It really is the same thing under a different name. Your fasting period is slightly longer than more common methods of intermittent fasting.

The diet has actually evolved from its original format since it was first created and the name was coined. More recently, the Warrior Diet has been interpreted as a strict 20-hour food fast and a four-hour fueling window, with various exercise requirements, says Totoro. This is also sometimes referred to simply as a 20:4 diet or 20:4 fasting.

The current version doesn’t have any food restrictions for the fueling period, but you’re not supposed to eat at all during the fasting period. While this might sound similar to the popular IF diet known as the 16:8 diet, in which you fast for 16 hours and eat during an eight-hour window, it’s actually very different. First, it’s much easier to fit your daily calorie needs into eight hours instead of four, and in the Warrior Diet, you fast during the majority of the day, which is much more challenging than fasting overnight and into a short portion of the day, like you would with the 16:8 diet.

Woman’s Health