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Traditional weight-loss programs typically emphasize calorie restriction – often cited as the primary reason participants drop out. But time-restricted eating is a weight loss strategy that limits one’s daily eating window to a specific period without focusing on restricting calories. A new study found that time-restricted eating was as effective as calorie restriction for weight loss.

The study included 90 adults with obesity who followed one of three dietary patterns for a year: time restriction, calorie restriction, and no restriction (a control group). The time-restricted group ate during an eight-hour window, from noon to 8:00 p.m., without limiting calories. The calorie-restricted group cut their calories by 25 percent. The control group ate during a 10-hour (or more) window and did not change their diets. Researchers assessed the participants' body weights, metabolic markers, and caloric intake throughout the study.

They found that the time-restricted and calorie-restricted groups experienced considerable weight loss compared to the control group by the end of the year. The time-restricted group lost more than 10 pounds (~4.8 percent of their body weight), while the calorie-restricted group lost nearly 12 pounds (~5.3 percent). There was no statistically significant difference in weight loss between the two groups. Notably, the control group averaged a 2.4-pound weight gain over the year.

These findings suggest that time-restricted eating is as effective for weight loss as calorie restriction. In this study, the eating window began around noon – often described as a “late” window. However, some evidence indicates that an early eating window is more beneficial than a later one. Learn more about time-restricted eating in this episode featuring Dr. Satchin Panda.

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