What’s a simple way to help you lose weight, improve your metabolism, and reduce your risk of chronic diseases?
The secret may lie not in what you eat, but when you eat.
Interest in the area of food timing began with the observation that for many species — from worms to mice to many others — reducing their total calorie intake led to a remarkable increase in longevity.
The same may be true for humans, too. But so far no one has done a long range study of the effects of people reducing their caloric intake by 40%. That’s not easy to maintain.
Instead, scientists have discovered that at least some of the health benefits you can get by severe calorie cutting also occur if you just change the timing of when you eat.
There are three basic “intermittent fasting” plans that have been recommended:
16 off, 8 on
You can eat as much as you want, but only during an 8 hour period each day (for example, 11 am to 7 pm.) (Some people try the junior version of the 16/8 method, only eating during a 12 hour window.)
Enjoy one (or even two) 24 hour fasting periods each week. That means no eating from, say 7 pm one day till 7 pm the next day.
500 calorie option
Twice each week there are days in which you only eat 500 calories. Every other day eat normally.
Whichever option you choose, you can enjoy many of the same health benefits. These include:
Possible weight loss. That may be because you eat fewer calories overall (even though with all these eating plans you can eat as much as you want when you’re not “fasting.” Or it may be that the intermittent eating plan boosts your metabolism.
Your metabolism is better-tuned. When your muscles are periodically starved of energy, they become much more efficient at absorbing and using energy when it next becomes available. They maintain a greater level of sensitivity to insulin (which signals muscles to take in glucose.)
Lowered risk of chronic illness. Many believe that intermittent fasting helps balance our tendency to chronic inflammation, which has been linked to heart disease, cancer, and dementia.