IF YOU thought weight loss was all about restriction, dieting, and counting calories, a doctor disagrees.
The gut health specialist and nutritionist said it’s possible to lose weight without changing foods or amounts.
All you have to do is change the times you consume them.
On the BBC Sounds podcast Just One Thing by diet guru Michael Mosley, Tim Spector delved deeper into what and how we should eat to maximize our health and well-being.
As well as cutting back on highly processed foods and including fermented foods like kefir and sauerkraut in your diet, the leading expert on nutrition and gut health – and co-founder of the ZOE app – pioneered the idea of ”time-restricted eating”.
He said the practice “falls under the umbrella term of intermittent fasting” and consists of eating within a certain window of time and abstaining from food for the rest of the day.
“You don’t change the amount or what you eat,” he told podcast listeners. “You just change the window of time that you eat.”
Tim’s ideal plan involves fasting 14 hours a day and eating 10 hours.
This may not seem radical or harsh, but it is different from the way Brits typically consume their food throughout the day.
Tim stressed: “In the UK the average time slot is probably around 15 or 16 hours because we snack so much. So we eat from the time we get up in the morning until just before we go to bed.”
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“There are many studies that show that this is very harmful for us. Not only does it lead to high sugar spikes and thus problems in our metabolism, it favors overeating, makes us sleep poorly, but also has negative health effects on our gut microbes.
“Microbes – like us – need a good night’s sleep. If you give them that sleep, then they have a cleaning crew that comes out at night, they have shift changes, so scavengers come and clean up your gut lining and clean your gut.” perfectly oiled machine that our ancestors had and that we’ve lost .
He suggests a 10-hour window is optimal, telling listeners they “could be tougher, but it’s not sustainable.”
He added, “You need to find what works for you.”
Tim said he was involved in a study in which about 100,000 people tried time-restricted eating.
“Most people — around 80,000 — managed to stick to a 10-hour window for several weeks, and they felt better, their mood improved, their sleep improved, their energy levels improved, and other studies have shown that their microbiome improved too improved. It’s all about finding a window that suits you and it can be early or late.
Some people might have breakfast at 7am and finish eating by 5pm, while others might want to have their last meal around 9pm, so don’t eat until 11am the next day.
Whichever time slot you choose, Tim emphasized that “it has to be sustainable”.
“You don’t have to do it every day because we all have social lives and work and do other things.”
“It’s very simple and I think we can all incorporate it into our lives,” the gut health specialist continued.
Referring again to the studies testing the method, Tim said, “Almost everyone who has tried it has lost a small amount of weight without consciously changing their calorie intake or eating habits in any way.”
But don’t force it if it doesn’t work for you, and don’t lose sight of the fact that food is there to be enjoyed.
Tim recalled that while he found it “incredibly easy” to implement time-limited eating, some of his colleagues who were “born snackers” found it “impossible.”
Tim says he fasts 14 hours and eats within a 10-hour window “most days of the week,” while Dr. Mosley said he was “probably more of a 12:12 person.”