A collaboration between the Norwegian and Australian authors, the study, which was published in Cell Metabolism last October, saw improvements in a number of crucial biomarkers in all groups except the control group, including a significant improvement in blood sugar reactions and a decrease in viscera. Belly fat’, which indicates an increased risk of heart-metabolic disorders such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Balsvik was part of the TREHIIT group, which, unsurprisingly, was the best. Palsvic lost half a stone (three kilos) in seven weeks, her BMI dropped from 29.5 to 28.5 and she lost nearly 20cm of visceral ‘belly’ fat, which was pretty average within her group.
She says the hardest thing about the study was the 30-minute commute to exercise sessions and the impact of running on her hips and knees. Other than that she said it was “easy”.
And here’s where this little study gets interesting. easy? The word is rarely seen in the same sentence as “diet”. While HIIT has been a successful intervention, Balsvik hasn’t maintained it since the class ended two years ago, but she remains enthusiastic about TRE, which she finds effortless.
“I was so anxious before I started. You wonder, ‘How am I going to do my job if I don’t eat anything?’ For a couple of days or so, I had this feeling of hunger but not extreme, then my body liked the routine, I had more energy and my mood was great. It was the opposite of what I expected.”
After the study I continued to follow TRE, and lost another four kilograms and 12 centimeters of visceral fat (belly fat around the organs in the abdominal cavity). “I stick with it. Sometimes we eat a little later in the evening on the weekends and my body reacts and I feel sick, like something is wrong with me. My boyfriend has joined me in it now.” Didn’t see significant improvements, “I think the eating period is too long, at 13 hours, too late.”
TRE should not be confused with intermittent fasting because it is a “chrono feeding strategy,” says Camilla Haganis, one of the study’s authors, from the Department of Circulation and Medical Imaging at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
Common fasting regimens such as 16:8, 5:2 or OMAD (one meal a day) “are primarily associated with the energy restriction that is achieved with intermittent fasting periods. In contrast, TRE primarily focuses on shifting energy intake into parts of the day in which the human body is physiologically primed to digest and utilize energy.”
How does TRE work?
TRE works in harmony with our circadian rhythms, the body, the brain, and even individual cells and genes that have their own clocks that run roughly in sync with 24 hours in a day. Food and light power certain functions. Sleep, body temperature, hormone levels, and digestion are all affected by these natural, somewhat inflexible rhythms across all humans.
One famous study returned a number of self-identifying “night owl” students to natural “larks” over the course of a few days simply by removing all sources of artificial light at night.
Another study found that even if there was no weight loss, TRE still improved metabolic markers in men with diabetes. Balsvik is now much easier after two years of stone lighter, with a BMI of 27, and a significant decrease in visceral fat, after significantly reducing processed foods and increasing protein and vegetables of choice.
She plans to revive her HIIT regimen with an easier workout on her knees. Exercise will help, she says, but “unless you’re a naturally motivated person, you need encouragement…” a sentiment many of us will understand.
One study conducted last summer found that doing the TRE is most effective between the hours of 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. Another found that those who adhere to the TRE but eat a late dinner see fewer benefits.
So, eat your evening meal early. Your body will thank you.