Intermittent fasting, a highly popular weight-loss approach, involves alternating periods of eating and fasting. This technique has gained attention for its potential benefits on various aspects of health. By allowing the body to experience fasting periods, intermittent fasting can lead to improved insulin sensitivity, better weight management, and a boosted metabolism.
While individual outcomes can differ, incorporating intermittent fasting into your routine holds the promise of positively impacting your overall well-being. In today’s episode, Ann Tsung delves into the advantages of “time-restricted eating.” She shares her personal journey, techniques, and patterns that you can readily apply and experiment with to determine if this approach aligns with your wellness goals.
Here are the key takeaways from the episode:
- Intermittent fasting/time-restricted eating: What is it, including benefits, patterns, and timing?
- Exploring the remarkable effects of time-restricted eating on the body.
- How to choose your fasting “window” for intermittent fasting.
- Experience improved deep sleep through intermittent fasting.
- Unlocking time-saving benefits with intermittent fasting.
- Ann’s transformative journey to reshape her eating habits.
- The critical impact of sugar, carbohydrates, and protein intake on your diet.
- Monitor and evaluate your eating behaviors and thoughtfully consider your eating patterns.
“You can reduce inflammation in your body and enhance cellular repair.”
“Adjusting your eating timing can lead to reduced inflammation, weight loss, and time savings.”
- “Don’t be too hard on yourself; we’re all human.”
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00:06 Announcer If you’re struggling with your vitality, energy, mood, focus or sleep, this podcast is for you. Your host Dr. Ann Tsung, ER doctor and aerospace flight surgeon, will help you reach for the stars and remove the barriers or blockades that have been holding you back from living your best life. If you’ve been challenged by your health, relationships or productivity, then it’s time for a breakthrough. So here’s your host Dr. Ann Tsung.
00:41 Dr. Ann Tsung Hello. Welcome to It’s Not Rocket Science Show. I am your host Dr. Ann Tsung. Have you ever tried to lose the last 5 to 10 pounds of weight but you keep going back and forth, and it just doesn’t happen? Perhaps you are meal prepping all the time. But you’re running out of time, you just don’t really have time to eat healthy even though you want to, or you lacked the energy to get through the day perhaps, or you just feel maybe bloated, inflamed all over. I felt those things the past few years, probably the past 10 years. I found that in the past five years when I started what they call intermittent fasting or time-restricted eating, I was able to actually decrease some of the symptoms significantly. So this is what I wanted to share with you today: what exactly is intermittent fasting or what they call time-restricted eating — it’s an eating pattern — some of the benefits that go along with it, what are some of the various timings you can experiment with, and my experience with it for the past five years and how I have adjusted with my current pregnancy, because I’m currently in my eighth month of pregnancy, and how can you begin to test this out, test this method out so that you can feel better, have more energy, have better sleep and have more time, and lose that weight that you’ve always wanted to? Let’s go and dive in. I do have a disclaimer. If you have any sort of conditions at all, before you start any fasting or intermittent fasting or time-restricted eating pattern, please talk to your healthcare professional to make sure that they are okay with that. Because this is not healthcare advice from me to you. This is just I’m sharing the knowledge I know and my own experience. Okay? So let’s go and dive in.
02:33 So what exactly is time-restricted eating? I like to call it time-restricted eating instead of intermittent fasting, because intermittent fasting has a connotation that we’re not taking in enough calories. But actually, we’re just restricting our eating window to a specific time. Like we only eat in 8 hours of the day, 10 hours a day, 12 hours a day. That’s why you hear a lot of times, there’s like the 16 and 8 window. That means you’re eating 8 hours a day and not intaking any food for 16 hours, but you are still drinking liquids and keeping up with hydration. I prefer the term time-restricted eating because a lot of times in the past when I talk or tell people I do intermittent fasting, a lot of people think that I’m just not eating enough calories. I’m fasting and I’m doing my body harm, which is not the case. The benefits are huge. Because we are always exposed to inflammation throughout the day — radiation, the things that we eat, environmental toxins — they cause damage in our cells, damage in our DNA. When your body is not digesting, that’s when it can do cellular repair. If you fasted long enough, when you’re not intaking food for at least 14 to 16 hours in a stretch, then you can enter into a state where your cell can actually repair itself or what they call ‘autophagy.’ So if there’s a damaged cell, the cell actually involutes and kills itself and basically gets rid of that damaged cell and ramps up the cellular mechanism. Really, aging, inflammation, any sort of oxidative stress in your body causes damage in your cell. Your cell, your body, has the natural ability to heal. You basically kickstart that process when you’re in the fasted state. This is one of the huge benefits of intermittent fasting.
04:33 Also, it improves your sensitivity to insulin. What that means is that when you eat load of carbs and sugar, your body secretes insulin. Your body sometimes essentially can use the glucose. When it secretes the insulin, your body can detect that insulin very well and actually use that glucose well. It doesn’t need to keep secreting higher, higher, higher amounts of insulin for you to actually get those glucose into your body. It improves the weight loss and the fat loss in your body because it makes your body more sensitive to the enzymes that breakdown fat as well. The other thing with intermittent fasting is that when you select your window, especially if you’re eating early like 5 or 6 PM and you go to bed 9:10 PM, and when you’re in that fasted state, that’s when your body can go through mind repair, body repair. That’s when you can get your deep sleep. So you will feel more energized when you wake up in the morning because your body, instead of digesting — if you eat late at night right before you go to bed, your body is digesting. All of the blood flow is going to your gut instead of going up to the rest of your body for repair and regeneration. So if you have been tracking your sleep, like for me, I track it with Oura Ring — no affiliations with them — I found that if I ate late and if I ate within 2 to 3 hours, my heart rate stays up, elevated and doesn’t drop until 3 or 4 AM. When I do intermittent fasting, my heart rate stays leveled the whole time, and it’s low the whole time. It’s significant. The amount of deep sleep I get is different when I eat late versus when I am doing intermittent fasting and I eat early. So you want optimal deep sleep, of course, and optimal REM sleep. That’s another benefit of intermittent fasting. It’s that it allows you to get efficient sleep. You might not have to sleep a lot of hours. In six hours, I can get two hours of deep sleep and an hour and a half of REM sleep and feel more rested than people who have slept eight hours. But if they ate late, they don’t get as much deep sleep, and they’d wake up still tired.
06:52 Then the other benefit of intermittent fasting is that it saves so much time. It’s actually a productivity tool for me. For me, I stopped eating breakfast. It’s just like in the morning time, it’s when you can do the most work, do your deep work, be the most productive, be the most creative. But if you’re spending time trying to cook breakfast at your golden hour, then a lot of time is already wasted. So for me, it was a huge productivity boost. It also saves me some time in terms of meal prepping, because I only had to prep two meals a day instead of three meals a day. The mental energy that you save as well, the planning process, that’s huge as well. That’s another cognitive load.
07:43 Again, to summarize benefits, it’s that you can decrease inflammation in your body, improve cellular repair in your body, increase autophagy — which is when damaged cells basically kill itself, and your body gets rid of it. It ramps up the other cellular repair processes in the body — improves your sensitivity to insulin. Your body can use, can basically hear the signal of insulin better and utilize glucose. It can improve your body’s response to the enzymes that breakdown fat. It saves you time from planning, and it gives you deeper sleep because you’ve been in a fasted state for some time before going to bed. I would like to share with you all those. Can you imagine all those benefits stacked up together? Just one-pattern change of the timing that you eat can help you decrease inflammation, decrease your weight and save time, improve productivity. I mean, that’s crazy. You can have more time and energy for your loved ones or to do the things that you love and the hobbies that you love.
08:56 I’d like to share with you experience that I’ve had for the past five years and what I’ve done to change, kind of modify a little bit now with pregnancy. When I first started, I think it was five years ago when I learned about the benefits of this. Some of the pioneers in this field is Dr. Rhonda Patrick — I’ll link her website to the show notes, so you can go do your own research. She is huge on intermittent fasting or time-restricted eating — and longevity researcher Dr. Valter Longo. I will link him as well. How I started was, initially, I think my eating window was probably 12 hours, maybe 14 hours. Sometimes I just eat late, and I don’t really care. I didn’t know any better at the time. Because I was in critical care fellowship, and I was switching all the time, days and nights, days and nights, putting myself basically in a jet lag almost all the time. But that’s another thing. That really, really interfered with my circadian rhythm. I decided that I’m going to start slow, and I’m going to restrict my eating window in about 10 hours or so. I wouldn’t eat breakfast, but I will start eating maybe 10 AM or so. I will stop eating at 8 PM. Because at that time, I wanted to eat with my then boyfriend. Another thing is, it’s hard. If your family eats late, you want to spend time with your family. You don’t want to sit there and not eat. So there’s definitely balance on how you want to pick your timing. So I started very slow. At that time, I was eating more fat and protein and less carbs already. So to me, I didn’t really have any issues transitioning. I don’t really get the hunger pain that people get when you haven’t been fat adapted, as in when your body cannot use fat for fuel as efficiently. I started just 10-hour eating window, then it progressed to eight-hour eating window, then it progressed to six-hour eating window. With a combination of my macros, it’s like I eat 50% to 70% of my calories from fat. I really am satiated the whole time already. I’m just eating just because it’s time to eat. It really wasn’t that big of a deal for me.
11:19 I’ll tell you what I did. Before my pregnancy, typically, it’s around six to seven hours. I would wake up in the morning, do my morning routine, get my work done. What I do in the morning is that I’d make my bulletproof matcha tea. If you go to my Instagram, I have some of my recipe there. I post how I make it. But essentially, it’s ceremonial grade matcha that has the amazing antioxidants. It’s first harvest to be ceremonial. Then I put grass-fed butter, a Kerrygold grass fed butter. I had no affiliations. Then I put the MCT oil. I also add some cinnamon myself, nutmeg, cloves just because I like those spices. I blend it all together. Sometimes I use hazelnut milk. Sometimes I use almond milk. That is my morning drink for the day. The fat that you intake does not necessarily kick you out of the autophagy state or the intermittent fasting state. It’s the amount of carbs or sugar or protein that you eat that really matters. I drink that in the morning. Typically, I would start eating 12 to 1 PM. I actually lift in the fasted state as well. I’ve adapted to the point where I can lift fasted. I eat after I lift, 1 to 2 PM. Then again, maybe 5 or 6 PM. That’s it for the rest of the day. Of course, it is not going to be perfect every day. I am not super strict on like it has to be six hours or eight hours. Sometimes it’s 6. Sometimes it’s 8. Sometimes it’s 12. It’s okay. Whatever you can do is okay. As long as you are thinking about it, you know the benefits, you’re actively trying to participate in this eating pattern, it’s all good. We’re human. It’s okay.
13:15 So since the pregnancy, what I’ve done is that when I wake up, I will still drink my bulletproof matcha tea. I lengthened my eating window to about 10 to 12 hours or so. I just don’t really get hungry, but I’m going to eat. I usually take in some nuts like hazelnuts, almond, avocado. Then I’d have a fuller meal later around 12 or 1, and then again around 5 or 6 PM. That’s my ideal time. I would eat now before I lift, instead of doing that fasted weightlifting workout. So that’s how I have pivoted since my pregnancy. It has worked out really well. I also have been wearing a Dexcom which is a continuous glucose monitor on my arm. It measures my glucose. So I can keep track of my glucose dips and peaks with each type of food that eat. I can talk about this a little more in the later episode. I also have been tracking, making sure that it doesn’t dip too low when I’m doing this type of time-restricted eating, especially in pregnancy.
14:27 How would you begin? Now, after this, I want you to think about your own pattern, your eating pattern. You can take note. For the past week, when do you usually start eating, and when do you usually stop eating? Say, if you usually eat your breakfast at seven, then you’d probably end around eight. Basically, you have a 13-hour eating window. You can start slow. You can say, okay, how about instead of 13 hours, I want to do a 11 hour? You just cut two hours off, which should be fairly easy. Or if not, cut 30 minutes. Cut one hour. You can start as slow as you want. Then you make that adjustment. Make sure that when you do eat, you are eating the same amount of calories that you would have taken on a normal basis. A lot of people might be really hungry if they start cutting out the hours. I would suggest adding a lot of healthy fat — avocado, nuts. I top everything with olive oil. Throughout the day, make sure that you have some sort of snacks on hand if you happen to get hungry. It’s really, really important to get enough healthy fat to make sure you’re satiated throughout the night as well or through the morning. I can’t stress that enough. People usually are hungry because, well, when you’re not used to it, you’re not fat adapted yet. Also, you’re not taking enough healthy fat. It’s mostly just carbs and sugar that you’re intaking when you are eating. The easiest thing is to just have avocados and nuts on hand to keep you satiated.
16:17 Again, how would you start? You make sure that you get a sense of your own eating pattern. You start cutting out an hour, two-hour, three-hour, to the point where it fits your schedule, and maybe employ your family and your friends. Sometimes you want to eat with your family, but they eat late. So maybe you can move the family time a little bit earlier and see if they will be okay with that. Just help you out an hour or two here. You also want to know whether I’m going to do breakfast and lunch only or lunch and dinner only. Some people like breakfast and lunch. Some people like lunch and dinner. I like eating lunch and dinner because I want to save the morning time for my productive work. But that’s me. Again, be flexible. If you don’t eat in a certain window for one day, it’s not a big deal. Because the effect of this eating pattern is for the long haul. The effect is from the average of all the days that you actually practiced this pattern. It’s not going to go downhill just because you missed one day. Do not be hard on yourself. We are all human, and we can enjoy a late-night meal with the family, loved ones, for two, three hours in an Italian restaurant if we wanted to. It’s okay.
17:38 Again, I want to summarize the benefits one more time of time-restricted eating or, you’ll hear a lot, intermittent fasting. The benefits are that you can improve your inflammation, you can help your cells to repair, increased autophagy when you fast to at least 14 to 16 hours. You can also improve your body’s sensitivity to insulin. You can break down fat easier. You can save time on meal prepping, and you can improve your productivity if you’re not doing breakfast as well. Because you don’t get that post-meal food coma. Also, you will get better sleep, better deep sleep, if you have been fasting for some time before you go to bed. You’ll have more energy, more time to spend with your family.
18:31 I’ll give you a brief note that there’s many, many ways of doing this. Some people do this, they eat normally for five days out of the week. They would fast longer for two days out of the week. They would, normally for one day, fast for 24 hours, eat normally for another day. There are so many different eating patterns. Again, I’m going to include the website for you to do your own research. I think, really, the easiest thing to start is just decrease your eating window just by an hour or two. Then after a week, decrease it by another hour, another hour, another hour. Or you could say, all right, I’m just going to go for eight hours tomorrow. That’s fine, too. Okay.
19:12 Thank you again for your kind attention. And for everything I’ve mentioned, the show notes and also the YouTube videos too, if you want to see this recorded, if you want to see me in person, please go to itsnotrocketscienceshow.com. Or you can go to any of my social media websites for the latest updates when the episodes come out. Go to YouTube @AnneTsungMD. Please, if you would leave a review on the podcast, that would be greatly appreciated as well. Because I want to know what you want to learn next, what topics have you been thinking about, what you wish I would do more of, and anything I can improve in my recording so that I can serve you better. Because this is not about me. This is about you. So thank you again. And remember that everything we need is within us now.
20:10 Announcer That’s it for today’s episode. Head on over to iTunes and subscribe to the show. One lucky listener every single week that posts a review in iTunes will win a chance in the grand prize drawing to win a private VIP Day for a health and life makeover with Dr. Ann Tsung herself. Then be sure to head on over to itsnotrocketscienceshow.com, and pick up your free gift from Dr. Tsung. Then join us on the next episode.