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Intermittent Fasting and Meal Timing for Weight Management

Dr. Linda J. Dobberstein, DC, Board Certified in Clinical Nutrition

Intermittent fasting and caloric restriction are currently hot topics. The focus is on when to eat and avoidance of excess calories and even using low calorie diets for a time. These strategies for health and longevity date back to 1000 AD. Time between meals, calorie restriction, as well as nutrients that mimic caloric restriction have many health benefits for aging well, weight management, heart, gut, immune health, and much more.

Meal Timing and Calorie Restriction

Calorie restriction refers to a reduced intake of calories as in a low-calorie diet. It also refers to setting limits or scheduling the time of day when you eat. Many variations exist in popular literature on calorie restriction and intermittent fasting on when, how much, and what to eat. It can easily become confusing.

Research recommendations for a healthy adult includes a regular meal pattern of 2 to 3 meals per day. Breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day followed by several hours of fasting to allow for the benefits of caloric burning, blood sugar and hormone regulation, and entrainment of the circadian rhythms. Excess caloric intake is avoided, but nutrient dense foods are encouraged. Athletes, individuals engaged in heavy physical labor throughout the day, or those with special medical needs may not fit these recommendations.

Does this sound familiar? These basic principles of time-restricted eating and calorie restriction actually follow The 5 Rules of The Leptin Diet. These are:

Rule 1: Never eat after dinner. Allow 3-4 hours between dinner and bedtime.

Allow 11-12 hours between dinner and breakfast.

Rule 2: Eat three meals a day. Allow 5-6 hours between meals. Do not snack.

Rule 3: Do not eat large meals.

Rule 4: Eat a breakfast containing protein.

Rule 5: Reduce the amount of carbohydrates eaten.

A high-quality breakfast after waking in the morning is fundamental to your metabolic processes. This simple principle synchronizes natural circadian rhythms, body clocks, and metabolism. Not snacking between meals or eating after dinner provides fasting time to allow for clean-up.

Here are some examples of meal timing that follow the Leptin Diet and intermittent fasting.

Example 1:

Breakfast – 8:00 am

Lunch – 1:00 pm

Dinner – 6:30 pm

Example 2:

Breakfast – 6:30 am

Lunch – 12:00 pm