New diet focuses on counting time, not calories

Amelia Brace

There are thousands of diets around - many of them fads - but a new eating plan is proving successful for those struggling to keep weight off long-term.

It's not about avoiding certain foods, but the time of day you eat them.

Not too long ago, Lorna Shelton weighed close to 115 kilograms.

At her heaviest Lorna Shelton weighed close to 115 kg. Source: 7 News
At her heaviest Lorna Shelton weighed close to 115 kg. Source: 7 News

She had to have both knees replaced and was walking with a cane.

A healthier diet had helped her lose weight, but not enough, so she shifted her focus from what she ate to when she ate.

Lorna began having meals earlier and over less time, eating only from 8am to 2pm.

Lorna now only eats between 8am and 2pm. Source: 7 News
Lorna now only eats between 8am and 2pm. Source: 7 News

She lost another 22 kilograms and says she feels she has added "years" to her life.

It's called time-restricted feeding, a diet that is about counting time instead of calories.

"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 said.

Meals usually take three to five hours to digest.

Lorna Shelton said her weight loss had added
Lorna Shelton said her weight loss had added

By limiting eating to an six-hour period and starting early, food is metabolised by bedtime, leaving stored fat to burn.

"We found that the early time restricted feeding helped improve fat burning," Ms Peterson said.

Results also show reduced blood pressure and better insulin processing.

Exercise and avoiding junk food or binge-eating is still important. Source: 7 News
Exercise and avoiding junk food or binge-eating is still important. Source: 7 News

While the diet doesn't make you cut calories or entire food groups, experts say dieters should still exercise, avoid junk food and binging, and during fasting hours only have zero-calorie drinks like black coffee or water.