Time Restricted Eating
Is it possible to consume a diet that allows us to gain muscle and lose body fat?
In the past body builders have employed eating plans to build muscle and lose body fat, which involve “bulking” and “shredding phases.” These approaches tend to be unpractical for everyday life, overly complicated, and less than ideal for health. Is it possible to create a simple and effective way of eating, that allows us to gain muscle, lose body fat while improving our health? The latest scientific nutritional research and my experience using these methods with clients say there is.
At first glance, eating to gain muscle, while simultaneously trying to lose body fat, would seem to be two conflicting goals. Gaining muscle requires us to consume extra nutrients, mostly in the form of amino acids from protein; while losing body fat requires us to reduce the amount we eat. In other words, if we consistently feed the body to increase our muscle it can be very difficult to create the reduction in calories needed to lose body fat. However, research has shown timing our meals in a certain way can help us both reduce body fat and gain muscle and it’s called “time restricted eating”.
Time restricted eating is keeping your meals in a certain time window. The duration of the eating window normally ranges from about 12-8 hours. The smaller the window of eating the more it enhances fat loss. There is a number of ways time restricted eating can be implemented, but let’s say we decide that you’re going to eat in a 8 hour window with two meals. In practical terms this means that your first meal could be at 12pm and your last meal finished by 8pm. This person would aim to deliver all the nutrients they need for health, muscle and energy in this window.
How does it work? Well put very simply that 16-hour window of not eating allows the body to use fat stores for energy, because no matter how healthily we eat, our body can’t simultaneously burn body fat and digest food at the same time. Remember that body fat is just a long-term energy storage facility for the body and to release the energy from fat we need to give it a reason, and that reason is a prolonged period of not taking in energy from food.
But how about muscle? Won’t all this reduction in eating of food mean we’ll lose muscle? Not if we give the body everything it needs in our eating window, paying particularly close attention to the meal just after a strength training session. The key to time restricted eating and gaining muscle is delivering the maximum amount of nutrients in the eating window, especially adequate amino acids from protein.
But there’s even more good news when we perform time restricted eating, its also great for our health. Research shows that when we have a prolonged windows of not eating it up regulates the immune system, stops the wear and tear of genetic material, reduces free radical damage, and inflammation in the body, which is why it is considered one of the main contributors to increased longevity in human lifespan.
So put simply, the fasting window allows us burn body fat and the eating window allows us to build muscle, all while improving our health. I regularly see clients lose over 2 stone of body fat and increase muscle mass in less than 6 months, all while improving health and energy levels. It was also the eating plan that Hugh Jackman used when training for his part in wolverine.