It’s not what you eat but when


I came across two articles in as many days that advocated timing your meals to lose weight and control your blood sugar. Then I came across a third, which I’ll get to.

The first presented research from Prof. Daniela Jakubowicz of the Tel Aviv University showing that a starch-rich breakfast consumed early in the morning coupled with a small dinner could replace insulin injections and other diabetes medications for many diabetics.

“We believe that through this regimen it will be possible for diabetics to significantly reduce or even stop the injections of insulin, and most of antidiabetic medications, to achieve excellent control of glucose levels,” she said. According to her research, our metabolism and biological clock are optimized for eating in the morning and for fasting during the evening and night, when we are supposed to be asleep.

The experimental comprises a meal of bread, fruits and sweets in the early hours of the morning; a substantial lunch; and a small dinner specifically lacking starches, sweets and fruits. The group on this regimen not only lost weight but also experienced substantially improved sugar levels.

The second article reported on research revealing  that a 10-hour time-restricted eating intervention, when combined with traditional medications, resulted in weight loss, reduced abdominal fat, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and more stable blood sugar and insulin levels for participants. This means doing all your eating within 10 hours.

Being a genius, I put the two ideas together: Can you eat an early, large breakfast, then stop all eating 10 hours later? Apparently, early means within 15 minutes of waking up. Oh boy.

Now for the third article. Dr. Jason Fung is the medical director and cofounder of the Intensive Dietary Management Coaching Program, which is a for-profit company that promotes and sells fasting-based programs for weight loss and diabetes reversal. His article is entitled “A diet guru explains why you should eat dinner at 2pm.”

There you go. He combines the two ideas for you:

The circadian rhythm suggests that late-night eating is not optimal for weight loss. This is because excessive insulin is the main driver of obesity, and eating the same food early in the day or late at night have different insulin effects. Indeed, studies of time-restricted eating mostly show benefits from reducing late night eating. So it makes sense to combine two strategies of meal timing (circadian considerations and time-restricted eating) into one optimal strategy of eating only over a certain period of the day, and only during the early daytime period. Researchers called this the eTRF (early Time Restricted Feeding) strategy.

The group with the best results ate everything between 8 a.m. and  2 p.m. After a period of adjustment they found they weren’t hungry at night. However, you’ll have to decide how to work this around jobs and school.

~ Fingerpost

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