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How time restricted feeding could help you lose weight

by Dr Rangan Chatterjee   /  November 18, 2015

New and exciting studies have shown that eating during specific times of day could protect against metabolic effects of diet-induced obesity. Here, I explain why when you eat may be as important as what you eat

On the first episode of Doctor in the House, I asked the family that I was working with – the Mistry family – to eat within a strict 10 hour window.

This is called Time Restricted Feeding (TMR). You may have also heard of the term ‘intermittent fasting’ or the 5:2 diet. This is a relatively new area of science but early studies suggest that restricting the time frame in which you eat could have profoundly powerful effects, particularly for people who have diabetes and struggle with weight loss.

The idea is that we have evolved as humans to survive periods of food excess as well as times where food is limited. Now, we live in an era of overabundance, which means we often have access to food 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.

Restricting our eating periods allows us to try and mimic the evolutionary mechanism from which we have evolved.

The Mistry family chose to eat between 10am and 8pm every day. This means that there were 14 hours in every 24 hours where they were not eating. This allows the body to do a type of “housekeeping” during those 14 hours, which can improve health.

Being such a new area of science, there’s still limited data on human studies. But one proposed mechanism is that when we don’t eat for several hours, the liver stops secreting glucose into the bloodstream and instead uses the glucose to repair cell damage. The liver also releases enzymes that break down our cholesterol into acid. These acids then dissolve brown fat, and this brown fat in turn converts calories into heat. Therefore, during our fasting period, the liver is helping to burn off fat and repair our bodies.

If you’re looking to lose weight or just improve your general health, I urge you to give this a go and let me know how it feels.

If you are feeling nervous, try a 12 hour eating window, such as 8am to 8pm. It’s just food restriction, not liquids, so when the window closes you can still drink tea, coffee and water (not juice or soft drinks).

As always, I’m here to answer any questions, so please get in touch via Facebook and Twitter if you’d like to chat.

— Dr Chatterjee


DISCLAIMER: The content in this blog is not intended to constitute or be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this blog or on this website.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee MbChB, BSc (Hons), MRCP, MRCGP