Your metabolism determines how efficiently your body burns calories. As you age, physical and hormonal changes decrease your metabolic rate, slowing down weight loss. There is not much you can do about getting old.
By shifting your eating schedule to earlier in the day, however, you can work with your body to give it energy when it can burn it and rest when it needs it. This blog post shows you how to use early time-restricted eating (eTRE) to give your over 50-year-old body what it needs, so you can get the weight loss you want.
Early Time Restricted Eating Over 50 – Summary
- Early time-restricted eating (eTRE) is the practice of consuming your last meal of the day by mid-afternoon.
- Benefit #1: This early eating pattern aligns your food intake with your body’s metabolic clock, making it easier to utilize calories and burn fat.
- Benefit #2: Avoiding food at bedtime keeps blood sugar and insulin levels low overnight, encouraging the release of body fat as you sleep.
- Benefit #3: Practicing eTRE helps the body overcome insulin resistance, a common barrier to weight loss in men and women over 50.
- Benefit #4: Declaring an early end to your eating day prevents late-night snacking, naturally reducing your calorie intake.
Over 50? Speed Weight Loss with eTRE [Video]
In this video, you’ll learn…
- The definition of Early Time Restricted Eating.
- Four benefits of this method!
- Challenges that may arise in the process.
Early Time Restricted Eating (eTRE) Definition
Time-restricted eating is the practice of shortening your eating window to better align your intake of calories with the body’s natural circadian rhythm. Early time-restricted eating takes that concept one step further by shifting your food intake to early in the day, leaving more hours between your last meal and bedtime. For those of us over 50, this proves to be valuable for many reasons.
Better use of Calories
The first benefit is that early time-restricted eating allows you to better use the calories you are consuming.
Your body’s circadian rhythm is dictated by a master clock inside your brain that uses daylight to keep your wake/sleep cycle on track. There are also accessory clocks found in your organs. They take their cues from your food intake. When you start eating, you wake up these digestive clocks. They go to work, helping you digest, absorb, release, and store energy efficiently.
However, the clocks in these metabolically important organs wind down as your day progresses. The result is that the foods you eat at the beginning of your eating day are handled more efficiently than those consumed later in the day.
By shortening your daily eating window and shifting that window to early in the day, you best align your food intake with these accessory clocks. This makes it easier for your body to utilize calories and burn fat. Let’s look at how this works, starting with improvements in blood sugar regulation.
Improved Blood Sugar Regulation
When you eat in the late evening hours, blood sugar levels remain elevated overnight. For instance, let’s say you eat a bowl of cereal at 10 o’clock in the evening and then go to bed. This bedtime snack gives your body an excess of energy at a time when its metabolic needs and function are at their lowest. This blocks any chance of fat loss overnight and increases the likelihood of fat storage.
If you have trouble losing weight or your weight loss is slow, shifting away from late-night snacking to an early eating pattern will keep blood sugar and insulin levels low overnight. This internal state encourages your body to use body fat for the energy it needs to keep you breathing, your heart pumping, and the many other basal metabolic functions that sustain you as you sleep.
Overcome Insulin Resistance
Another fat loss advantage we gain with this earlier in the day eating pattern is that it helps the body overcome insulin resistance.
Insulin is a hormone associated with blood sugar. When you eat carbohydrates, especially refined carbs like cookies, cakes, candies, and cereal, your blood sugar level goes up. In response, your pancreas produces the blood sugar-lowering hormone insulin to move the sugar out of your blood and into storage.
Insulin is somewhat of a gatekeeper. When it is high, storage, including fat storage, occurs. As the level returns to normal, your body moves into a state that encourages the release of fat from fat cells.
This process works like a well-oiled machine when we are young. Our blood sugar goes up, and insulin goes up to clear it away. Once a normal blood sugar level is established, insulin levels return to normal. That efficiency diminished with age. This decreased efficiency is known as insulin resistance. It is a common barrier to weight loss in men and women over 50.
When your body is insulin resistant, insulin levels remain high, blocking fat release. Practicing early time-restricted eating has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, helping your body overcome this barrier.
For instance, in one study, men with prediabetes consumed all of their calories for the day within a 6-hour eating window, with their final meal ending before 3 pm. At the end of the study, the men saw improvements in insulin sensitivity as well as the function of their pancreas, which is the organ that produces insulin (1).
If more efficient fat loss is your goal, you want your cells to be insulin sensitive. When they are, insulin has an easy time moving sugar out of your blood and into your cells. Because of this ease, blood sugar and insulin levels quickly return to their normal ranges following a meal. As a result, you spend less time in fat-storage mode and more time in fat-burning mode.
Natural Reduction in Calorie Intake
We see that early time-restricted eating works with your body to give it a fat loss edge as you age. But we can’t overlook another benefit that encourages weight loss, and that is the natural reduction in calorie intake for the day.
In my book on intermittent fasting, I highlight an interesting study that shed light on our typical but surprising eating habits. What was revealed was that more than half of us are all-day grazers, eating or drinking calories for 15 hours or longer a day. More than 35 percent of our daily calories are consumed in the evening, after 6 pm.
It is easy to see that if you end your eating day in the afternoon, you will naturally consume fewer calories, further encouraging weight loss.
If you have not tried early time-restricted eating, I encourage you to do so. However, keep in mind that it takes a bit of focus to get used to the change in routine. We are creatures of habit, and our bodies and brains are easily conditioned to follow a routine.
Because of this, if you typically eat dinner at 7 pm, your body will anticipate food and prompt you with hunger cues to remind you that it is dinnertime. With practice, your body will adapt to this new early routine, restoring physical comfort.
But then there is the mindset and logistics of not eating dinner at “dinnertime.” If you find yourself wondering how you can pull this off when you have family considerations or fears of hunger, you’re not alone. Don’t feel that you have to force the issue. There is nothing wrong with starting slowly to get a feel for what works for your lifestyle.
How to Practice Early Time Restricted Eating
To get started with eTRE, choose one day this week to eat dinner two hours earlier than usual. When you are comfortable with that routine, you can shift dinner to the mid-afternoon and work up to practicing early time-restricted eating daily. (Before you change your eating pattern, let your doctor know about your intention, especially if you are on medications or have a health condition.)
There is no established optimal hour to end your eating day. However, many early time-restricted eating studies had participants end their eating day at 2 pm or 3 pm. It took most participants more than a week to feel comfortable with their new early eating routine (1). It is normal to feel some apprehension when you are making a change to your eating schedule. With time, your comfort level will increase, allowing you to reap the benefits.
If you’d like some motivation to help you during this transition, you can download my free fasting timeline. It walks you through a day of fasting, letting you see what is happening inside your body as the hours pass. You’ll find that having this concise guide by your side acts as a great motivator as you progress with your fasting lifestyle.
Thank you for reading and have a wonderful week!
(1) Sutton, Elizabeth F., et al. “Early time-restricted feeding improves insulin sensitivity, blood pressure, and oxidative stress even without weight loss in men with prediabetes.” Cell metabolism 27.6 (2018): 1212-1221.