Time Restricted Eating: Lose Weight Without Dieting

Would you love to lose a little weight and get your sparkle back?
Many of us want to find a way to eat better, to get rid of that dragging feeling after meals. On the one hand, dietary advice lurks everywhere. But let’s face it. Most is unsustainable for the long term. Who wants to count calories or ration out their carbs for life?

Dieting haunted me for most of my adult life. I longed to lose ten pounds, and I’d try one diet after another. I always ended up discouraged and hating myself. Over time, I’ve learned to listen to my body. I eat when I’m hungry and i know that I feel much more energetic when I eat well.

I also listen to the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda, that teaches us to follow the rhythms of nature. Recently I’ve started a habit that’s revolutionized my eating, and I even lost eight pounds. And the crazy thing is, I haven’t changed anything that i eat. This technique also reduces inflammation and improves blood sugar control. And the cool thing? No counting calories, fat grams, protein grams.

Ready to hear more?

The True Paleo Diet

Time Restricted Eating syncs us to the circadian rhythms of nature. You eat during a shorter window of time, preferably when it’s light outside. You don’t have to change what you eat, you change when you eat.

Ideally, you finish eating by sundown. For example, have dinner around 6pm then breakfast the next morning around 7am: 13 hours without food.  Finish your meal with your evening dinner. This is relatively easy to accomplish, and you'll see benefits even if you start with a 12 hour fast.

Time restricted eating boosts your health without crazy diets. In Ayurveda, our bodies detoxify at night. When we're not eating, our body clears our gut and regenerates our organs. The latest scientific research on the gut supports Ayurveda's wisdom.

In The Mind-Gut Connection, Dr. Emeran Mayer describes the migrating motor complex, a part of the enteric nervous system that sweeps out any food that your stomach doesn't digest. It operates when there’s no food in your GI tract, like when your sleeping. The migrating motor complex sweeps undesirable microbes from your small intestine to your colon where they can be eliminated.

This means that the longer we go without food, the healthier our gut and the more we can rid our body of waste. The gut is also a major player in inflammation, so keeping a healthy gut helps to blast inflammation.

Blast Inflammation and Sleep Like A Baby

High inflammation increases our risk for certain types of cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. Inflammation zaps our vitality and increases the aging process. In this study, the best marker of inflammation, C-reactive Protein (CRP), went down without dietary changes but with 12 hours or more of nightly fasting.

Each 10 percent increase in the proportion of calories consumed in the evening was associated with a 3 percent increase in CRP. Conversely, eating one additional meal or snack per day was associated with an 8 percent reduction in CRP.

Sleeping eludes many. To encourage sound sleep, finish eating as close to sunset as possible. Eating during the day follows our circadian rhythms because we’re active when it’s sunny and light outside. At night, we stop eating and get ready for sleep. At sunset our metabolism naturally slows down.

Healthier and happier aging

Time restricted eating can slow down the aging process. Data from the animal studies described in this review show that neurons in the brains of rats and mice maintained on intermittent fasting regimens exhibit increased resistance to metabolic insults.

Effortless Weight Loss

What if you could lose weight without changing what you eat? Would you feel encouraged? Dr. Satchin Panda’s work shows that mice that eat within a 12-hour window "resulted in slimmer, healthier mice than those who ate the same number of calories in a larger window of time.”

My own personal experiment (n=1) I lost around 8 pounds with absolutely no effort. I haven’t consciously changed what I eat. I’ve only made an effort to stop eating as early as I possibly can. TRE supports family life because you won’t change your family’s diet. Kiss the food battles goodbye.

Ready to get started?

Tweak your eating routine to get started.

The basics of Time Restricted Eating:

  • Eat and drink caloric foods and drinks by 6 or 7pm.
  • Consume only water or black coffee or tea before your break your fast.
  • Eat and drink as usual until dinner. Repeat.

Instead of breaking my fast with coffee and milk, I now drink black coffee when I wake at 6am. I have breakfast a couple hours later around 8:30am. I try to eat dinner around 7pm, although often we eat later. I use the awesome and free zero app to track my daily rhythm, because the tracking helps me to keep the habit. Even on late dinner days, I eat less in the evenings than I did before I started.

How long?

Restricting your eating to a 12 hours window is much easier than eight hours, advocated by some. The women in this study restricted their eating to 12 hours, and saw improvements in blood sugar control, and inflammation, especially when the eating followed circadian rhythms. They also reduced breast cancer recurrence by 38%.

Can I drink coffee or tea?

Black coffee or tea don’t break your fasting profile. They do sick-start your body clock, so your organs don’t continue to rest when you drink coffee. Most intermittent fasting studies don’t consider coffee or tea breaking the fast.

When should I eat?

Eat to follow your circadian rhythms: eating when it’s light and sleep when it's dark. Insulin sensitivity is stronger in the mornings, meaning that we better utilize our meals and we see better blood sugar control.

Practice Mindfulness

How do you feel when you eat pasta with creamy sauce and tiramisu at night? Probably like crap. And your sleep's probably crappy too. Sometimes you'll dine later with friends. Let your knew knowledge inform your choices. Learn to eat lightly at late dinners. Your body will thank you. Five days a week is a great start. You'll feel better even if you don't fast for 12 hours each night.

Savor Your Time

When you eat dinner earlier, your hunger diminishes. Avoid compensating: "Oh no, it's going to be such a long time until I eat." Eating more for dinner will only make you feel bloated and overload your digestion. Instead, eat a light meal and move on to something else. Take a long shower, find a good book to read, and go to bed earlier. It’s easy to form a habit, even if you don’t reach your goal of 12 or 13 hours each night. Start by deciding when you'll finish eating.

Plan So You Can't Help But Succeed

The biggest reason people fail is that they don't plan ahead. To finish dinner by 7pm, you must have easy ingredients ready.

  • Set a timer so you remember to start prepping dinner at 5:30pm.
  • Build shopping and prepping into your routine.
  • Keep easy dinner options like salad ingredients, whole grain toast and hummus handy.

You can make this simple change with a little planning. Have you used other tips and trick that you could share? Let' us know in the comments below.

P.S. In my research for this article, I’ve come across a few incredible resources: - The Zero App - FoundmyFitness, by Dr. Rhonda Patrick - Research of Dr. Mark Mattson and Dr. Satchin Panda


About the author

You know how people feel stressed, fatigued, and overwhelmed —and they have no idea how to sift through all the health advice to help them feel better? Jessica Blanchard uses yoga, Ayurveda and nutrition to fix the root causes of their problems, so they get fit, and feel calm and energized.

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  1. loved this article, and it makes so much sense to me. I ‘snack’ more at night after dinner and before bed than I do during the whole day. AND, I then have difficulty sleeping. I’m going to start tonight.

    1. I’m glad that the article resonated with you Gwen! Many people get the munchies after dinner. If you can find a substitute activity to replace snacking, it will be easier to maintain as a habit. Let me know how things go!

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