Eat an early dinner for weight loss and longevity.
BySarah Axtell, ND •May 25, 2022
Intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating in which individuals go an extended period of time (approximately 16 hours) without food.
Research shows that the timing of when we fast is actually more important than the total amount of time we fast. This is called “early time restricted feeding.” So, for example, having an earlier dinner at 5 pm, fasting overnight, and breaking that fast with breakfast at 9 am or 10 am is more metabolically beneficial than eating dinner at 8 pm and fasting until noon the next day. If you are going to skip a meal, skip dinner- not breakfast.
It’s not just what you eat but also when you eat. The time of day you distribute your energy in relation to bed is important.
Benefits of “early time restricted feeding”:
- Decreased hunger and improved satiety. Research shows that individuals that stopped eating by 2 pm (and fasted 18 hours overnight) have lower levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin and higher levels of the satiety hormone peptide YY.
- Improved metabolic flexibility. Eating an earlier dinner and fasting overnight can improve the body’s ability to switch between burning carbs and burning fat for fuel.
- Enhanced autophagy. This is the body’s “cleaning house” mechanism- the process by which your body detoxifies, repairs, and regenerates itself. In recent years, defective autophagy has been linked to age-related diseases such as cancer, neurodegeneration and heart disease. When autophagy functions optimally, it works to clear away the cellular junk that can lead to fat and wrinkles.
- Better digestion. Our GI tract is not best equipped to break down food late at night. GI is most prime and active when the sun is out. An earlier dinner can result in less acid reflux and better GI motility, resulting in improved bowel movements.
- Blood sugar regulation. Our ability to process sugar significantly decreases after 8 pm.
Take home- Strive to eat an earlier dinner when possible. If your schedule does not allow for this every night, you can mitigate the deleterious effects of a later dinner with a vigorous after-dinner walk. Even if it is 15 minutes, it is better than nothing! Movement post meals is key for regulating blood sugar and keeping insulin down.
How to break your fast in the morning- With FAT, FIBER, and PROTEIN. Think eggs and veggies or green smoothie with plant-based protein powder and flax. Not muffins or bagels!
Please note- If you have a history of disordered eating or eating disorder, intermittent fasting (or skipping a meal) is likely not indicated for you. Talk with your naturopathic doctor about the best diet and meal timing schedule for YOU. There is not a single approach that works for everyone. It must be individualized!
Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health practitioners with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.