Here’s a new diet plan: Eat as much as you want for four to six hours a day and still lose weight. A pair of fasting diets that restrict eating to short windows of time have been found to be effective.
In the first human clinical trial of two popular time-restricted diets, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago found participants lost about 3% of their body weight in 10 weeks. The results were published in the journal Cell Metabolism.
Those who were assigned to the four-hour diet group ate between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. People in the six-hour diet group consumed food between 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. During the fasting hours, they were limited to water or zero-calorie beverages.
In addition to weight, the researchers tracked the participants’ blood pressure, cholesterol, insulin resistance, fat levels in the blood and inflammatory markers.
Not only did they lose weight, participants in both groups improved their insulin resistance and oxidative stress levels compared with those in a control group who did not diet. The diets had no beneficial effect on blood fat levels, LDL cholesterol or blood pressure.
They also found no appreciable difference in weight loss between the shorter and longer-fasting groups. That suggests the six-hour window for eating might make sense and be more practical for those seeking to lose weight.
While moderation is always a good idea, the fasting diets are very generous when it comes to allowing eating during the four- and six-hour windows.
So, arm yourself with the willpower to not eat for 18 hours — and get ready to pull those skinny jeans out of the back of the closet.