Should You Adopt a 10-Hour Eating Window?
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
The Cleveland Clinic reports that according to a national health survey, more than one in five Americans has metabolic syndrome. And this recent health study found that only 12 percent of American adults are metabolically healthy.
Furthermore, right before Thanksgiving, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) released a report stating, “US life expectancy has not kept pace with that of other wealthy countries and is now decreasing.”
It’s likely not news to you that exercising and eating healthily are the important activities when it comes to preventing and otherwise addressing metabolic issues. But what you may not know is that you can also be proactive about these metabolic issues by eating within a certain time window.
According to a recent study, eating all of your calories within a daily 10-hour window (for example, 9am to 7pm) may be a great way to combat obesity, high blood sugar, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
If intermittent fasting is too intense for you or not recommended by your doctor, time-restricted eating (TRE) may be a great alternative for you.
One report discussing the study mentions that previous research has shown that practicing TRE was safe for healthy people. After that, it was time to see if time-restricted eating was safe and effective for people with metabolic syndrome.
“We were curious to see if this approach, which had a profound impact on obese and diabetic lab rats, can help millions of patients who suffer from early signs of diabetes, high blood pressure and unhealthy blood cholesterol,” according to the report.
“It's not easy to count calories or figure out how much fat, carbohydrates and protein are in every meal. That's why using TRE provides a new strategy…”
It’s challenging to test the effects of fasting and restricted eating in people who have already been diagnosed with metabolic diseases. This is because so many of these people are on medications, and it may be dangerous for them to fast on a daily basis for 12 hours or more.
So 10 may be the magic number?
The researchers examined restricted eating within a 10-hour window in people with metabolic syndrome who were also taking medications for blood pressure and cholesterol. The study participants were patients from UC San Diego Clinics who had to have at least three out of five conditions for metabolic syndrome: obesity, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, high level of bad cholesterol and low level of good cholesterol.
Ultimately, 19 patients qualified for the study. And these patients were people who were more likely to spread their daily eating out within a window of 14 hours. It is very important to note that the majority of these patients had already tried reducing their calories and increasing their physical activity levels in order to improve their conditions.
“As part of this study, the only change they had to follow was to self-select a window of 10 hours that best suited their work-family life to eat and drink all of their calories, say from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.”
(Drinking water and taking medications outside of this time window were allowed).
After just 12 weeks of practicing daily time-restricted eating within a 10-hour window, the results revealed:
- Participants lost a “modest amount” of body weight, particularly fat from the abdominal region (visceral fat).
- Those who had high blood glucose levels were able to reduce these levels.
- Most people with high blood pressure and high levels of bad cholesterol were able to lower these levels.
Keep in mind that all of this happened without a change in physical activity.
“Reducing the time window of eating also had several inadvertent benefits. On average, patients reduced their daily caloric intake by a modest 8%.”
Furthermore, almost two-thirds of the participants reported having restful sleep at night and less hunger at bedtime. This is a big deal, because sleep is very important in fighting obesity, stress and other issues that may negatively affect our overall health and wellness.
After the study ended, almost 70 percent of the patients continued practicing TRE for at least a year.
“As their health improved, many of them reported having reduced their medication or stopped some medication.”
So should you practice time-restricted eating (TRE)?
Well, it really depends on your individual situation.
If you have metabolic syndrome or one issue such as high blood pressure, talk to your doctor about it. He or she may or may not recommend TRE, and this recommendation may depend on the medications you may be taking, your age, your diet, your current physical activity level and more.
Practicing TRE is not a free pass to eat whatever you want. It is extremely important to eat a diet rich in whole, unprocessed nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Also drink plenty of water.
I also do not want people to underestimate the importance of exercising. Yes, the participants of the study saw results without making changes to their physical activity levels, but keep in mind they may have already been working out. In addition to this, we have seen over and over again how being sedentary and not moving can be very detrimental to our health by increasing the risk of metabolic disease. (Read here to learn about specific nutrients that will help fuel your body both before and after working out).
Schedule routine nutrient tests in order to identify any nutrient imbalances or deficiencies you may have. Maintaining nutritional balance is a great way to ward off metabolic disease. If the test reveals you have too much or too little of a certain nutrient, a competent healthcare professional can work with you on making the necessary dietary changes and recommend quality supplements if necessary.
For tips and tricks on how to make your holiday healthier without sacrificing flavor, read here. (It’s a Thanksgiving blog, but you can definitely use the cooking tips for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and other holiday festivities and celebrations).
Enjoy your healthy life!
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.