Illustrations by Charlotte Shen
Following on part A, where we established some guidelines for what to put into our homebody for health and weight loss, today I'm looking at the WHEN.
Pillar 2: Time Restricted Eating
There is much being written about the topic of time restricted eating, like this: Longer daily fasting times improve health and longevity in mice. This involves traditional fasting, that may last from one day to 7 days or more for experienced practitioners, and what has come to be known as intermittent fasting, and you may be aware that it’s very in vogue these days. Time restricted eating involves restricting your daily calorie consumption to within a window of 2 up to 8 hours. That means 16-22 hours per day without food. The reason for this is that research has shown that that the benefits of fasting really start kicking in after 12 hours without calorie intake. So what exactly happens when we “starve” our bodies for longer periods?
- The effects of fasting have been associated with improved ability to control calories coming in, and thus weight loss, which in turn can help in preventing the onset of diabetes.
- Studies have shown it can lower blood glucose levels.
- Heart health may be improved through reduction in cholesterol and triglycerides, high levels of which have been linked to heart disease.
- Brain health can benefit from reduced inflammation – studies in animals showed that this reduced risk factors for neurological conditions like Alzheimers and Parkinsons, as well as stroke. Further studies showed improved cognitive function in mice. This article provides a brief overview of these benefits.
- Cancer prevention or delay. Studies show that fasting may encourage a process called autophagy, where the body eliminates dead, dying and mutated cells, including cancerous or precancerous cells, and may slow the onset and growth rate of tumors: “many experts agree that the autophagy process initiates in humans after 18-20 hours of fasting, with maximal benefits occurring once the 48–72 hour mark has been reached.” -Fast Your Way to Autophagy
Hacking the Glutton
Since I struggle to limit portions at mealtime, I prefer to limit the time during which I permit myself to eat. Rather than viewing it as one big meal, I give myself a 4-5 hour “eating Window” every day, (I’ll only strictly enforce this on weekdays). I’m convinced that this approach, restricting my eating to roughly 4 hours per day, can be the right hack to get myself under control and start on the path to losing weight. If you have never tried this and are doubtful, why not start by skipping breakfast or dinner (whichever you find easier) for a couple of weeks? If, for example you start lunch at 12 and finish dinner by 6, you’ve still got 18 hours of fasting under your belt every day! Try twice a week to start and see how it feels!
Another side benefit of fasting for me is the time it saves me! When others are cooking or traveling to get food, I can be doing productive things to bring me closer to my daily goals! [Ok, or just take a nap, which I’ll admit happens on some of my “no lunch days”]
So there you have it, my 2 pronged diet plan based on nutrition and time restricted eating. Although I hope this will become entrenched as a lifelong habit, I do have some shorter term goals/hopes for this plan:
The Short Term Goal
I’m roughly 35 pounds over my ideal weight according to my best estimate of my ideal body weight. If you are interested in finding at least a rough estimate of your ideal weight, I used this to get a good idea. Yes the site is called keto calculator, and you’ll note I’ve avoided bringing up this wildly popular but still controversial trend (if you don’t know, keto, or ketogenic diets, focus on getting most calories from fats, followed by proteins and extremely restricted carbohydrates) but the tool they provide is useful as it allows you to view a range of pictures to identify your body type, in addition to inputting some data to come up with an estimated BMI (body Mass Index) and determine what your “lean weight” would be based on your goals
So I’m going to set a 2 month goal to lose 15 pounds – this would be a good head start towards my final goal. I’ll feel a lot better at that weight and have more energy to kick up my exercise program (NEXT STAGE!)
What do you think homebodies?
- Could you stick eating from the list of foods above 5-6 days per week?
- Could you restrict your eating times to a 4-6 hour window?
- Could you or have you done a multi-day fast?
Next Time, Part 6: Homebody Fitness: Starting an Exercise Program At Home With Baby Steps