Time-restricted eating can help you lose weight, improve organ health

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New research suggests that limiting your consumption to a limited amount of time each day can not only help you manage a healthy weight, but it can also improve organ health. Portrait/Getty Images
  • A new study has found that time-restricted feeding (TRF) can affect the gene activity of mice.
  • Throughout the body, 22 different types of tissue were affected.
  • Time Restricted Feeding (TRE) has been found to have several positive benefits on human health.
  • The researchers’ findings could potentially help guide therapeutic TRE in humans.

A new study published in the journal Cell Metabolism reports that time-restricted feeding (TRF) – also known as time-restricted feeding (TRE) when it applies to humans – had effects on gene activity in mice.

Overall the effects were shown in 22 different tissue types throughout the body, including the heart, lungs, liver, brain and intestines.

“Nearly 80% of all genes show differential expression or rhythmicity under TRF in at least one tissue,” according to the study authors.

They suggest that future work could guide the use of TRE to treat various disease conditions in humans.

Shereen Jegtvig, a nutritionist and author who teaches at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut, explained that time-restricted eating is a common form of intermittent fasting (IF), which involves eating only during specific times of the day and fasting for the rest of the time.

“Other forms of IF are more difficult and include fasting for a full day occasionally or limiting your calorie intake to about 500 every other day,” Jegtvig said.

The study’s lead author, Satchidananda Panda, PhD, who holds the Rita and Richard Atkinson Chair at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, described TRE as limiting caloric intake to a period of time specific and regular each day, leaving a 12 to 18 hour window in which no nutrients are consumed.

Panda further noted: “There is no explicit limit to energy intake during mealtimes. TRE allows the consumption of water outside the designated eating window, but non-caloric beverages such as unsweetened tea or black coffee are permitted in some cases.

He further suggested that the fasting window should be customized for the individual based on their sleep time and schedule.

Panda added that because the fasting community often uses the terms “intermittent fasting” or “IF” to refer to regimens other than time-restricted feeding, TRE (or TRF for animal studies) is the more accurate term to use. . [M]Most scientific studies use this term, and curious minds can search this term to find peer-reviewed scientific publications.

Panda said that while previous research had focused on linking TRF/TRE to a fairly small number of genes in the liver, their study greatly expanded this work by examining 22 different organs and brain regions, as well as all genes in the genome. .

To do so, Panda and his team allowed a control group of mice to eat as much as they wanted, while another group was only allowed to consume food during a 9-hour feeding window.

All mice were fed a diet corresponding to a Western diet in humans and all were provided with the same number of calories.

At the 7-week mark, the researchers took samples from the designated organs and brain regions of the mice every 2 hours over a 24-hour period.

What they found was that, compared to controls, the TRF mice experienced genomic responses in nearly every tissue and brain region.

“These changes indicate that TRF enhances autophagy, mitochondria function, DNA damage repair, proteostasis, RNA folding, fatty acid oxidation, glycolysis, gluconeogenesis, and many others,” Panda said. “These pathways also predict that TRF may benefit by reducing the risk of atherosclerosis, kidney disease, dysbiosis, and various intestinal diseases.”

Panda noted that TRE/TRF has previously been shown to have multiple potential benefits for human health.

“[It] it has been shown to prevent, better manage or in some cases reverse several health conditions,” said Panda.

This list includes, but is not limited to, conditions such as:

  • glucose intolerance
  • insulin resistance
  • hypertension
  • dyslipidemia
  • fatty liver disease
  • chronic inflammation
  • sleep disorders
  • age-dependent decline in cardiac function

Jegtvig added that time-restricted eating may also help with weight loss because it cuts down on the amount of time you can eat.

“It may also affect insulin and appetite hormone levels, but most of the effect probably comes from calorie reduction even if calorie counting isn’t necessary,” she said.

Jegtvig further noted that small studies suggest it may improve risk factors for metabolic syndrome and heart disease, although this may be a side effect of the weight loss itself rather than something specific to TRE.

Jegtvig concluded by advising that if you plan to practice TRE or any other form of IF, the feeding window shouldn’t be seen as an opportunity to indulge in unhealthy food.

“While there should be a place for the occasional snack and treat in your diet, it’s important to nourish yourself with healthy foods,” she said.

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