Eating Window

Studies have shown that the "window" in which you eat--the number of hours per day--and the window during which you fast can make a very large difference to your health. In many ways, this is similar to the number of hours you sleep each night.

Unfortunately, too many of us are eating practically round the clock. Do you get up in the morning and grab a doughnut or a muffin at 7 or 8am? And by 10am, a mid-morning snack? Do you eat lunch? How about another snack in the afternoon? Then there's dinner, but most people don't stop there. Snacking on the couch in front of the TV could go on for several more hours. If this sounds like you, your eating window could be quite a bit longer than 12 hours. Maybe 15 or even 16 hours! Which leaves a very short window for fasting.

What's so important about fasting?

Our bodies are designed to fast. The same way we need sleep each night--about 8 hours seems to be the norm--we also need a stretch of time to digest, process our food, and allow our organs to rest.

Every time we put food into our mouths, we create a cascade of chemical processes. The digestive process requires energy. Hormones are pumped out, enzymes are excreted, blood flows to the various internal organs. When you fast, all of these various reactions and processes come to a halt. Our bodies can then use the fasting window to repair cells that are damaged.

It appears we need, at the very least, a 12-hour fast each night. This means a 12-hour eating window. But this is the bare minimum. And most of us aren't even getting this.

There are many options for extending the fasting window. I recently posted a blog about OMAD--One Meal A Day. My hubby is now doing OMAD. His eating window is about 1 hour per day, which means he fasts for almost 23 hours out of each day! He says this is totally doable. If this is too extreme for you, consider skipping breakfast and eating your first meal around noon. I've been practicing this version of intermittent fasting for a few years. I have no problem teaching classes, including bootcamp, on an empty stomach. My normal eating window is about 8 hours--from 12noon to 8pm. Another option is to break your fast earlier in the day, but stop eating in the late afternoon. Some people prefer an every other day fasting regimen, where you might eat three normal meals one day, then eat nothing at all the next day. This gives the body a much longer fasting window every other day.

Have you tried extending your fasting window? What benefits have you gained? Do you find fasting easy or difficult?