Leyla Weighs In: Another reason to stop counting calories


| By Leyla Muedin MS, RD, CDN

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Fresh off the presses and in time for your New Year’s resolutions, there’s now another reason to stop counting calories if you’re trying to lose weight. As published in the journal Cell Metabolism, scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego have found that Time Restricted Feeding may be more effective for weight loss than counting calories.

Time restricted feedingTRF allows eating within a discrete period of time—ideally, within twelve hours, if not less. The remaining twelve hours of the day are fasting. Dr. Satchidananda Panda, who first did this testing in mice back in 2015, expanded his observations to humans by following them with an app that tracked meal and snack times. He found that of the 156 participants in his study, 50 percent ate over the course of 15 hours a day and only a fraction of the subjects limited meals and snacks to the recommended 12 hours or less. 

When eight overweight subjects were asked to restrict their 15-plus hours a day of eating to a 10-hour TRF window for four months, they lost about four percent of their weight. Moreover, they kept it off a whole year later while sticking to the plan, even though they didn’t have to. Dr. Panda also reported those individuals slept better, had more energy, and felt less hungry. 

What makes this study so compelling is that it increased compliance. These eight participants didn’t have to continue their TRF, they choseto. Essentially, they could eat the way they normally would but just kept it within a twelve hour window. In other words, this was doable for them. 

Other doctors who have advocated TRF to their patients have witnessed the reversal of prediabetes and improved blood pressure readings, some prompting elimination of blood pressure medications altogether. Similar observations were reported at the University of Adelaide in Australia where 16 overweight men at risk for developing type 2 diabetes were put on a nine-hour a day TRF for a few weeks. They found overall improvements in glycemic responses—effectively reducing risk factors. 

The benefits of TRF are the same as with Intermittent Fasting. For all intents and purposes, they are one and the same. When fasting for half a day or more, the body can “clean house” – initiate cellular repair, break down and clear toxins and repair any DNA damage. Dr. Panda notes that most of these repair processes peak around 12 hours after fasting starts. Besides allowing the body to efficiently repair and detox, decreased circulating insulin associated with TRE/IF can help reduce the risk of cancer too. 

To your health! 

Leyla Muedin, MS, RD, CDN 


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