The huge impact of cutting back on the time you eat

A fundamental step to getting organized is to take care of your precious self. If you’ve gained weight, aren’t exercising, or aren’t sleeping well,  your #1 task is to take care of yourself before you attempt anything else. You have one body for this lifetime, and the sooner you feel better, the better off you’ll be as you age.

Think of your health as a foundation rock. If you get that right, you can build all sorts of things on top of it.

One of the trickiest things many of us deal with is gaining weight as we age. Stats tell us that two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. And as the years tick by, the pounds seem to come out of nowhere. Right? And once they’re on your body, they feel impossible to lose, and they affect everything – from blood sugar, to blood pressure, to good knees.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading and YouTube watching about the effects of intermittent fasting. Our bodies evolved to eat, then take a break to search for food (exercise), then eat again. And we used to sleep more during the long, dark hours. In today’s world, the lights stay on. TV keeps us entertained late into the evening. And fast food, the refrigerator, and the snack drawer provide us with a constant supply of tasty temptations. So we eat more, and hunt and sleep less.

Many health scientists now argue that what you eat may not be as important as how often and what time you eat. The Washington Post had an article last week about Biologist Satchin Panda. Panda did an extensive mouse study where two groups of mice ate the same amount of calories. One group was limited to an 8-hour window while the other group could eat any time. “After four months, the eight-hour mice weighed 28% less than the anytime eaters.”

They also found that while the 8-hour mice had normal blood sugar levels, the unlimited-schedule mice developed Type 2 diabetes. In addition, the 8-hour mice could run twice as long as the unrestricted mice. And remember, this is all on the same amount of calories. The results were so unexpected and so extreme, Panda and his team of students have continued to run this type of study and always find the same results.

Mice do not equal humans, but many scientists are studying the effect on humans of taking breaks from our food. What they’re finding is that when you limit the amount of time you eat, you lose weight, sleep better, and have more energy.

Panda says the problem is that our bodies aren’t good at both ingesting food and metabolizing it. When you take a break between meals, either eating during daylight hours or eating breakfast and dinner and skipping lunch, you give your body a break between meals giving the enzymes in your liver a chance to burn up what’s already in your system.

If you’re ready for a fundamental health-organizational challenge, giving yourself a longer break between meals can be a great first step. I’d still advocate that you eat healthy food – but science says to eat what you want. Then take a break.

I’d love to hear how this goes if you take on this challenge and start tracking the changes!

I’ll leave you today with contrast in timing – a photo Bill Maxwell shot in Maine last week and a photo from my sister who works for the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. I’m not jealous! Our tulips will bloom – in another couple of months 🙂

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2 thoughts on “The huge impact of cutting back on the time you eat

  1. I’ll be jealous for both of us! Those are gorgeous tulips. Love Bill’s shot, too… can almost see the witches just flying out of the frame.
    As for the fasting/limiting hours of consumption, WOW! 28% plus all the other benefits? Powerful stuff. In my own weight-loss journey, I’ve managed to wean off the PPI’s (proton-pump inhibitors… Nexium, to be specific) but there are still times here and there when I reach for an antacid when I go to bed; usually ’cause I’ve eaten too darn late. I know better, but it still happens. Now, I have added incentive to pay attention. Should’ve know, huh? After all, theater people know that “It’s all in the timing!”


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