Everything You Need To Know About Time Restricted Eating

Everything You Need To Know About Time Restricted Eating

We’re all familiar with the concept of intermittent fasting thanks to the widespread success of the 5:2 diet or alternate-day fasting. Now TRE or time restricted eating is rapidly gaining popularity and might be the easiest of all to integrate into a busy schedule. We talk to naturopath, nutritionist and herbalist, Laura Larman, to hear how TRE works, the health benefits it offers and easy ways to get started.

What exactly is TRE?

“TRE is a form of intermittent fasting, or IF. It involves consuming all your meals within a six, eight or 10-hour window and then fasting for the other 18, 16, 14 hours, which includes while you sleep. It’s not a new diet, our ancient ancestors would eat in line with the rhythm of the rising and setting sun too. The main reason I use it in my clinic is to improve digestion, blood sugar regulation and hormonal health, rather than for weight loss.”

How it works

“When you sleep or fast it allows your system to rest, which supports cellular and digestive regeneration and cleansing. On a physical level TRE/IF allows the body some extra time to rest and repair and for cellular clean up or autophagy (a bodily process that cleans out your damaged cells) to accelerate.” 

What a typical TRE day looks like

“Start the day’s eating with brunch at 12pm. Then by 4pm you’ll be ready for a light lunch or snack. Have dinner at 8pm after which you’re then fasting. If you’ve got children or just prefer to eat dinner earlier, then it all pulls forward by two hours. That means breakfast at 10am, lunch at 2pm then at 6pm you’ll have dinner.”

Does fasting mean no food at all?

“Yes, but you can drink water, herbal tea, black coffee or tea with no milk or sugar.”

What if you go out for dinner a lot? 

“The body likes routine, so just like going to sleep at the same time every night, it likes to know when to expect food too. But even if you can only do this once a week it does have benefits. I would suggest trying to do it on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and then being mindful of the principles for the rest of the week. It might not be as tricky as you think if you begin with simply only eating within a 12-hour window. Then you can gradually reduce that to eating in a 10 or eight-hour window depending on your aims and health.”

Does the body feel different?

“Currently more 50% of adults eat for 15 hours or more a day. But when we go for more than 12 hours without eating, we limit the oxidative stress on our bodies which can reduce overall inflammation. Many benefits you won’t see or feel necessarily, such as the body cleaning out the old parts of cells and stimulating growth hormone for new parts to be made. However, the implications for cancer and Alzheimer’s disease here are huge.” 

Benefits you can see and feel

“TRE does trigger a metabolic switch from glucose burning to fat burning, so there is an increased potential to reduce fat and reduce insulin resistance. You may also notice performance is enhanced, cognitive function improves, plus ageing and disease processes are slowed.”

Laura’s 5 tips for starting your own TRE plan:

1. Exercise in a fasted state and then eat your biggest meal after your workout so you can replenish the calories you need to fuel your body and prevent a drop in energy.

2. Leave a minimum of three hours between each meal. Every 90 minutes your small intestine has a sweep and clean up. This is called the migratory motor complex (MMC) and it is essential to keep digestion running smoothly and to stop overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria. Snacking and drinking milky coffee in between meals interrupts this important process.

3. I also encourage people to savour their food. That means eating it mindfully and slowly in a relaxed state for maximum nutrient extraction and absorption.

4. Include protein, healthy fats and fresh vegetables in each meal. This is not about restricting calories and food, instead avoid refined products and sugar generally as this won't sustain you throughout the day and the fast.

5. Work with a practitioner ideally to formulate the best plan and pattern for you and your unique needs.

Laura Larman is a naturopath trained in nutrition and herbal medicine. She has clinics in London on Borough High Street and in Hove where she lives with her family. Laura is also available via Skype for consultations. Lauralarman@icloud.com

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