Intermittent-Fasting’s Sneak-Attack On Obesity & Metabolic-Illness:
So losing-weight is a very tough thing, and we seem destined to get fat.
Add-on the uncertainty introduced by new Fad Diets that seem to crop-up about every 3 years,
And you could understand how the average person could end-up discouraged, confused; and even-worse, looking nothing like Ryan Reynolds.
But researchers at the Salk Institute have just come-up with another amazing confirmation to the proof in a recent diet trend…
So A Short History Of Diet-Fads:
We’ve all recently seen the list of diet-fads purporting to change our lives and waistlines for the better.
Whether it was low-fat, points-counting, magic food, lotsa pasta, low carb, slow carb, zero-carb, paleo, blood-type, mediterranean, carnivore,
It seems that since about the 1960s/70s we’ve been through just about every fad of restricting by group, or some other trick to get & keep a healthy body-composition.
However, one recent “fad” is looking like it has some actual legs.
And the short answer is Yes, the research team showed that within some limits it absolutely can mean the difference between a healthy-weight and Obesity+Disease.
Read on to find out how…
Satchin Panda And Intermittent-Fasting Fight Obesity:
Dr. Satchin Panda and colleagues at his department of the Salk Institute have been studying the benefits of intermittent-fasting for awhile now.
And every new study they publish just bears out the theory even more.
As a refresher, Intermittent-Fasting or Time-Restricted-Eating, includes the practice of limiting the length of the time for you to eat all your calories.
This can be done in almost any on/off pattern of hours in the day, or days of the week.
It may or may-not stipulate specific start & end times for metabolic or health-effects, like getting an early-start x hours after you wake up.
But it’s generally the opposite of eat whenever you feel, for as long as you feel, or the Midnight-Snack-Club.
Same Food, Different Timing:
So in the current-study, paired with some of Panda Lab’s earlier work, they found an interesting parallel for humans,
Many of us eat over the course of much of the day; almost all 16 hours.
And starting with that 2012 work, the team found that even mice on engineered-diets with fixed calorie amounts did something amazing.
If they ate over an unlimited time-span, with 24-hours of access, even to the same exact number of calories precisely,
They got fat. -Like Obese-level fat.
This doesn’t seem to make any sense at-all, as plans like The Hacker’s Diet and others attempt to reduce things down to Calories In vs. Calories Out.
And that’s where Dr. Panda theorized something interesting:
It’s Not Only What You Eat, But When:
What if your body was doing something different with its metabolism at different times of the day?
Well, it turns out it is.
In the first part of the day, it focuses more on burning-calories.
And later on, it focuses more on cell-repair, and also cleaning-tasks like our new-friend, Autophagy.
So the theory-goes that if you’re still eating in the wrong body-cycle as determined by the body’s Sleep Cop, the Circadian Clock,
Then perhaps, you are not going to metabolize those calories very well at-all.
And the studies prove it.
10 Hours To Be An Overnight Success:
So to test the idea of fixing obesity, and the possibility of either Inherited, or Aging-Based genetic defects or impairments,
The Salk team went one step further than the 2012 work that established the Obesity evidence.
And let me reiterate, this was for 2 groups of test-mice, each Eating The Same Number Of Calories!
No points, no funky, expensive, mass-produced frozen-food tv-dinners.
In this more recent trial, they genetically-engineered mice to no longer have a circadian clock.
And even in-spite of this big genetic-problem, that many people can relate-to because of how hard it makes weight-loss,
The same results as the 2012 work held true.
If mice were restricted to a 10-Hour Eating Window,
They not only avoided being Obese, but they were actually slim, fit, active & healthy!
But Wait, It Gets More Exciting:
The real benefit here is not just the weight-loss, or the closeness to looking like Deadpool’s handsome alter-ego.
It was a reduction in the rate of disease, also!
So it may be just a result of reduced-inflammation, greater physical-activity,
Or perhaps even the cleaning & repair processes that can now happen because the body doesn’t have to metabolize food.
And if you believe the micrographs of the mice-livers on the 24-hour plan, that is a Very real possibility!
Reduction In Disease:
The minimum set of diseases observed by the scientists were High-Cholesterol, Fatty-Liver Disease, and Diabetes.
But due to the short-lifespan of mice, they may not have had time to develop the other inflammation-related diseases that humans would.
-Including weird time-based health-problems that shift-workers and everyone with a weird-schedule can get.
And because of Autophagy’s connection with the removal of zombie-cells, Alzheimer’s may be another disease IF or TRE may reduce.
So how’d you like to be sharper for longer, and maybe avoid things like Obesity and Alzheimer’s? -Sounds like a pretty-good deal, right?
One interesting note, is that the Livers of these mice were particularly screwed-up.
And that organ itself, is involved with Many of the body’s metabolic processes. It’s not all stomach+guts+microbes.
It May Also Work On Less-Than Perfect Diets:
Not only that, but Dr. Panda’s group put the mice on High-Fat Diets.
While these are not quite as bad as High-Sugar or High Fast-Carb diets,
Previous studies on reversing aging with cell-cleaning agents show that high-fat diets are not that great, either.
Though to be fair, the diet in that study was also designed to mimic The Western Diet and have higher cholesterol, too.
One other part of the cool from this study comes from the fact that you can at-least in-part, influence your circadian clock.
Because, the 10-Hour-Window appears to suggest that if you actually use a clock or timer yourself, the genes & proteins in your metabolism will follow-along.
Fight-Off The Ravages Of Aging With Time. -Wait, What?:
Another inevitability in the aging-game is time.
It seems that no matter what our plan or our food, as we grow older we are all doomed to be fat as well as unhealthy.
A big part of this may be due to an actual deterioration in the Circadian-Clock-System that happens with age, whether we like it or not.
It may be in part to changes in vision that disrupt the amount of blue/cyan light signals that get to the brain.
Time May Hurt Your Internal Clock, So Use An External One:
But the most-encouraging part of the work is implied by the “clockless” mice,
You can use that timer on the outside to adjust when your natural one goes weird on the outside.
You may not be destined to be an Obese, Diabetic, “Clockless” mouse.
Whole swaths of Age-Related-Disease might be entirely done-away with, simply by enforcing this eating schedule on yourself,
Especially as you get older. Like an alarm-clock for your overall health.
So How Can I Do Intermittent-Fasting/Time-Restricted Eating?:
Well, the same advice is always true. Talk to your doctor first.
Don’t go crazy based on some new fad.
You probably want to check-in with them periodically after you start, too, to make sure it’s all going ok.
Also, though many studies show Calorie-Restriction really works, there are fewer for IF/TRE.
And it is not appropriate for all people.
Also to be Very Specific, the Panda team did not take Obese mice and get them thin on TRE, but that is the implication and may be proved in the next study.
Anyhow, if we check-in with Harvard Health’s page on it we can see the minimum restrictions on that plan are people with the following issues:
1) Diabetes/Blood-Sugar Issues
2) Eating Disorders
3) Medication Plans That Mandate Food-Intake
4) Kids Who Are Still Growing
5) Women Who Are Pregnant Or Breastfeeding
But as with any weight-loss plan or diet-modification, you’re actually managing just a few things:
1) Total Calorie Output
2) Total Calorie Intake
3) Reducing Sugar & Fast-Carb Intake
4) Maintaining Appropriate Macro + Micro Nutrient Intake
5) Managing Fullness
6) Not driving yourself crazy with too many specifics
So, you should be doing the first 4 instinctually, or at-least a small food-journal notebook + TDEE calculator.
You may have to be even more careful about them, because the study results largely depend on them too.
#5 though is not something most people think about, but it’s VERY helpful!
So from my experience losing more than 40 lbs just using nutrition,
Managing Your Fullness May Help:
Fullness is what you want to watch once you’ve got the other stuff down.
Remember, 2 simple notes about Appetite & Fullness.
1) Calorie-Density Matters
1a) 1 Tbsp. of Olive Oil has the same # of calories as an entire brick of frozen spinach
2) Bitter Foods Reduce Appetite
So if you’re feling hungry in the off-hours if you try Intermittent-Fasting,
Make sure to eat more filling calorie-sparse foods like Spinach for your last meal.
That way, the food will just sit there and help you stay feeling full.
And if you can work anything into it that’s a little bitter at the same meal, that might help, too.
Hack Your Schedule In Small Increments For Success:
One more thought on making this easier.
Time your entire eating-window. How long is it?
Do you have your first coffee with milk & sugar at 8AM and a “midnight” snack at 10PM?
Now, try what’s good practice with any change: Baby Steps.
What if you could reduce a 14-Hour Eating Window to 13.5 Hours in 1 week?
And then reduce it to 13 by the end of the next week?
Soon-enough, you’re going to be at Dr. Panda’s Magic 10-Hour-Window!
Don’t Go Crazy With The Time-Window, 10-Hours Looks OK:
Now I know there are some REALLY gung-ho Intermittent-Fasters out there that do even 8 or !SIX-HOUR! eating-windows for cripe’s sake!
Normal civilians should probably not try that.
Furthermore, the study data right now does support results for 10-Hours On/14-Hours-Off.
Unless/until I’m proven-wrong, there is no study-evidence yet showing outcomes are superior for 8 or 6-hours on.
So try not to torture yourself that bad just yet, ok?
Anyway, here’s to hoping the Salk Institute’s work on Time-Restricted Eating holds true for all non-mouse humans and can do more for health than even the amazing magic-trick of avoiding obesity.
Photo Credits: “lazy cheetah”, by Andrea Bohl
• Sources: Salk – Eating in a 10 hour window | Salk – Drug-free fix to obesity, diabetes
• More Coverage: Harvard Health – Intermittent Fasting | Panda Lab’s My Circadian Clock App Food+Sleep Timer
• Source Study: CellMetab. – Time-Restricted Feeding Prevents Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome in Mice Lacking a Circadian Clock