There’s a new health trend sweeping the nation — and Dr. Oz recently declared it’s “the best way to lose weight, prevent disease and even live longer.” He’s so convinced, he’s using the approach, called time-restricted eating, himself!
Here’s what his version entails: Each day, you consume all your food during the same eight-hour window, aiming to get the bulk of your calories before 3 p.m. (for example, eating between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., making lunch your largest meal). Evidence from top research labs suggests this strategy triggers biochemical changes inside us to help us thrive — so much so that folks report dropping up to 20 pounds in 13 days as they rapidly improve blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes and more.
“It’s easier to do than you think,” Dr. Oz promised. And it can totally transform your body! One reason this style of eating speeds off excess pounds: It prompts your body to burn lots of extra fat! That’s because limiting meals and snacks to an eight-hour window means you end up fasting for 16 hours each day— which is long enough that your body runs out of blood sugar (its carb-based primary fuel) and is forced to start turning fat into an alternative fuel called ketones.
“That’s what happens when people go on the keto diet,” Dr. Oz explained. Turning stored fat into ketones not only makes your waist shrink, but the compounds “provide an important source of fuel for your heart and brain.” So your overall health and wellness get a really nice boost too.
There’s more: Modern humans still have the same genes that helped our ancient ancestors survive periods of food scarcity, which is why fasting activates internal mechanisms that make us stronger, more energized, and better able to tackle whatever life throws at us. In fact, time-restricted eating has been shown to optimize levels of many hormones, including fat-storing insulin and appetite-suppressing leptin.
Short fasts have also been shown to spike the “fountain of youth” hormone HGH. Research even suggests that shifting all your meals into an 8-hour window has surprising benefits for a sluggish thyroid, helping dramatically improve the gland’s function after just 12 weeks! wonder studies from places like the National Institutes of Health and Johns Hopkins University suggest time-restricted eating can help us slim down and live the longest, healthiest life possible!
Dr. Oz noted that many folks who try time-restricted eating start out by skipping breakfast and bumping their eight-hour eating window as late in the day as possible. But if weight loss is your goal, an earlier window gives you a huge edge. That’s because our metabolism naturally slows after sundown, so we burn off less of what we eat at night. “It’s best to make breakfast and lunch your largest meals and dinner your smallest. You want to get 80 percent of your calories before 3 p.m.,” he said, citing Louisiana State University research that found eating in an earlier window leads to more weight loss as well as greater improvements in insulin, blood pressure, and markers of disease. Also backing him up: A study at Tel Aviv University on volunteers in their 60s found that those who ate all their meals in an early window lost roughly 10 times more weight compared to volunteers who consumed the same calories in a longer and later window.
Your Meal Plan
Dr. Oz’s strategy promises to get you slim and healthy in a hurry. Typically, time-restricted eating means consuming all your calories during the same eight-hour window each day. Dr. Oz encourages you to go for the earliest window that works with your schedule (like 10 AM to 6 PM) and get most of your calories before 3 PM. To maximize results, he encourages you to choose mostly unprocessed fare. Water, coffee, tea and broth are permitted outside of your eating window. As always, get a doctor’s okay to try any new plan.
Big Breakfast: 1 serving of protein (like eggs or yogurt), 2 servings of fiber-rich starch (like whole-grain bread or cereal), a little good fat, and unlimited fruit and veggies.
Hearty Lunch: Go for a serving of protein, 1–2 cups of whole grains or unprocessed starch (such as potatoes, pasta, brown rice), a little good fat and unlimited veggies.
Light Snack: Opt for a mix of protein and fiber, such as a handful of nuts with fresh or dried fruit, a hard-cooked egg with veggies, or hummus on flaxseed crackers.
Light Dinner: Make this your lightest meal of the day. Satisfying options include a bowl of soup and/or a salad that go easy on carbs and fat.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.