The dietitian-approved diet that dictates what time you eat, not what you eat.

When the word diet is thrown around, complete with enthusiastic promises of dropping considerable weight with little effort, it’s rarely ever taken seriously as an alternative to healthy eating and exercising.

So where does a diet that focuses on the time you eat, not what you eat, fall on the spectrum of shoddy-to-good diets?

Time-restricted feeding, so it’s been so creatively named, is about counting time instead of calories. New research shows it could be a doable way for those who want to lose a bit of excess weight to do just that.

“It’s about eating in a narrow window of time and then having an extended daily fast each day,” University of Alabama researcher Courtney Peterson told Channel 7 this week.

Due to the fact meals usually take three to five hours to digest, limiting the times you’re eating ensures food is metabolised by bedtime, leaving stored fat to burn.

“What we’ve learned in the last 10 to 15 years is not only what you eat, but when you eat seems to matter,” Peterson also told NBC.

So how much of this is too good to be true, and how much of this is helpful advice about nutrition and health?

According to Australian dietitian Susie Burrell, who runs the online diet plan Shape Me, there’s absolutely merit to the idea that restricting the hours you eat can help you lose weight and live a healthy lifestyle.

Listen: Brigid Delaney tried the 101 Day Detox Diet so you don’t have to. (Post continues after audio…)


“There is growing evidence to show that simply limiting the number of hours in which we do eat is a powerful way to help metabolise fat stores and lose weight,” she tells Mamamia.

“Basically, the average person eats way too much, too often and limiting the hours we consume calories each day basically restricts calories and supports sustainable weight loss without strict dieting.”

Burrell says though this is branded as a ‘diet’, it could just be the easiest way to limit and monitor calorie intake.

“It is about having more hours in the day in which no calories are available so we are forced to utilise fat stores.

“Ideally we need at least 10-12 hours without food overnight and extending this so we reduce the late night eating helps with this.”

Burrell says in an ideal world, we would all be able to occasionally fast. Choosing the window of time that works for you is advisable, with some participants opting to only eat between the hours of 8am and 5pm, while others might pick the time between 10am and 6pm.

“Fasting works if people can do it but the hardest thing in modern lives is that our food intake tends to be skewed towards the second half of the day. If you can manage to stop eating earlier in the day there are significant benefits for metabolism and weight control.”

Will you be trying time-restricted feeding? Let us know in the comments below…