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22.11.2021 Sharing The Science

Time Restricted Eating

This one has nothing to do with horses, but it’s a subject that I’m really interested in, and one that I think has potential benefit for many people, so I’m choosing to share it. I’ve just finished reading ‘The Diet Myth’ by Tim Spector, and am now reading ‘Why Calories Don’t Count’ by Dr Giles Yeo. It’s scary understanding the very old science behind our calorie counting diets! Anyway, for me, I’ve always struggled with calorie counting. I came across time restricted eating (TRE) about 15 years ago, when I heard Ed and Rachel on Heart West Midlands Radio discussing the concept of eating between 8am and 6pm. It didn’t have the title of TRE at the time. Many years later, I read about the 5:2 diet (which also doesn’t work for me, because I gorge far too much on the 5 days I’m allowed to eat what I want!).

I discovered a couple of years ago, through lots of reading and lots of experiment, that eating during a shorter period of the day helped me to feel more energised as well as to lose weight. Like anything, this still takes a level of willpower (I love cakes way too much!), and some fairly major life events (like almost 6 months of home schooling during Covid) got in the way of this becoming a habit. I’m hoping that I’m back on track now, at least during term time where I have a routine. And so I was fascinated to take a look at some of the (generally positive) studies that are coming out on this fashionable subject.

This one talks about how it’s important that we choose the right ‘window’ to eat, to fit with the hormones that are controlled by our circadian rhythm, which in turn is controlled by the daylight and darkness. The authors suggest that the results of the research on TRE vary so widely because few of the studies take the circadian rhythm into account (I’d argue that amongst other reasons, it’s also because they are studying ‘eating windows’ that vary between 4 and 12 hours, so It’s no wonder they’re getting differing results!). Anyway, the authors of this study suggest that we are better to eat between 8am and 4pm, and that if we want to shorten that window, we should finish eating earlier rather than start eating later. That’s because our bodies release insulin in the afternoon, which means that more of the food we eat in the afternoon is stored as fat, compared to in the morning. Since my ‘eating window’ is currently 3pm to 6pm, I’m not sure whether I want to make the change, but I suspect that over the weeks and the months I’ll have a play around with it.

I hope you find the article interesting and informative.

Beneficial Effects of Early Time-Restricted Feeding on Metabolic Diseases: Importance of Aligning Food Habits with the Circadian Clock

Anouk Charlot, Fanny Hutt, Eugénie Sabatier, and Joffrey Zoll


The importance of metabolic health is a major societal concern due to the increasing prevalence of metabolic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and various cardiovascular diseases. The circadian clock is clearly implicated in the development of these metabolic diseases. Indeed, it regulates physiological processes by hormone modulation, thus helping the body to perform them at the ideal time of day. Since the industrial revolution, the actions and rhythms of everyday life have been modified and are characterized by changes in sleep pattern, work schedules, and eating habits. These modifications have in turn lead to night shift, social jetlag, late-night eating, and meal skipping, a group of customs that causes circadian rhythm disruption and leads to an increase in metabolic risks. Intermittent fasting, especially the time-restricted eating, proposes a solution: restraining the feeding window from 6 to 10 h per day to match it with the circadian clock. This approach seems to improve metabolic health markers and could be a therapeutic solution to fight against metabolic diseases. This review summarizes the importance of matching life habits with circadian rhythms for metabolic health and assesses the advantages and limits of the application of time-restricted fasting with the objective of treating and preventing metabolic diseases.

Nutrients. 2021 May; 13(5): 1405.

Published online 2021 Apr 22. doi: 10.3390/nu13051405

Read the full article here.

© Sue Palmer, The Horse Physio, 2021

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