Everyone knows that when it comes to weight loss, exercise and diet are crucial. But what time you eat can also have a huge part to play.
Lucy Nield, 60, had always been a yo-yo dieter but found success with Time Restricted Eating after signing up for Dr Michael Mosley’s The Fast 800 programme.
Last September, she weighed 13 stone 8 lbs, but nearly a year on and she has lost almost three stone, taking her to just under 11 stone.
Lucy, from Fleet, Hampshire, admits that she had always struggled to be happy with her weight and tried many well-known fads. But last summer, she seemed to be putting on weight quicker than usual.
She told the Mirror: “I was still exercising gently, but it was limited because I had problems with my hip and this injury definitely impacted my mood, as well as my mobility. To counteract that low mood, I found I ate and drank a little more than normal and without the exercise, I began to put on weight.
“Last summer, my husband and I went away and had a wonderful time, but when I got back, I looked at some of the photographs and I thought, ‘oh my goodness, I’ve really put on weight’.” After being stunned at how she looked, she decided to take action.
She researched online for a regime that she thought would this time work, and purchased Dr Mosley’s book – The Fast 800 – before signing up to the online programme for support. The diet, based on the research by Professor Roy Taylor of Newcastle University including the DiRECT study, claims to potentially cut your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer and, because stage one is a very low-calorie diet (VLCD), possibly reverse type 2 diabetes. The first stage sees a rapid weight loss phase where the body is put into a major calorie deficit, before phase two which focuses on intermittent fasting.
By default, with Lucy cooking all of her new healthy recipes, her husband managed to shed just over two stone. “I found it very easy and I enjoy cooking anyway, so I enjoyed the challenge of doing something slightly different than I would normally do,” Lucy recalled. “I’m always mindful to drink lots of water, which we did anyway, but we increased that as well. Quite fortunately, I only drink black coffee, so I didn’t worry about things like that and I also drink a lot of herbal teas, which can be quite useful in between meals instead of snacking.”
Lucy started off with the suggested ‘The Very Fast 800’ plan, meaning she had to stick to around 800 calories a day for the first 12 weeks or until she reached what is deemed a ‘healthy weight’ – which she says was “really easy”. After that, a relatively low-carb Mediterranean-style diet is followed, with an emphasis on lean protein sources and vegetables.
As she moved into Christmas 2022, she embarked on Time Restricted Eating. By practising TRE, it’s claimed you prolong the period when your body has burned through the calories consumed during your last meal and begins burning fat. She thought it would be daunting at first, but by then, she was into the swing of things, and felt as though she wasn’t missing out.
The couple socialised as normal over the holiday, and took notice of the calorie guides on menus in restaurants, as they opted for low-carb meals. They also stopped drinking alcohol at home, which allowed them to enjoy a drink with friends when they were out.
During a trip to France with their children, they would delay eating until as late in the morning as possible, and then make sure they would have their final meal of the day by 7pm at night. “Once you get into the pattern, it becomes a good habit,” Lucy asserted. And now in maintaining her new weight, Lucy deems TRE as crucial.
“For me, I like to make the decision the day before that I am going to delay breaking my fast. As a result, I don’t get up in the morning with the mindset to make breakfast straight away,” she explained. “When I began introducing TRE into my way of life, I did not find it difficult, I would look forward to when I would be eating and enjoy my food even more.
“I use TRE when I am going out for a meal and know I will have less control over what I may be eating and to feel I can be relaxed and concentrate on having a nice time with friends and family rather than worrying about my food.” When it comes to exercise, Lucy has always been quite active, enjoying low-intensity interval training and Thai Chi. However had struggled to even walk at the end of last summer after hurting her hip. She was then diagnosed with arthritis and whilst in agony, struggled to maintain movement.
But as the weight started to drop off, she found that she was able to head to the gym with little discomfort. “Most days I can get up and not feel I’ve got a problem. Exercise is helping and obviously, the more weight I lose, the easier movement is. The worst thing for my hip is to be sedentary, so I think being fitter and lighter has helped,” she said. “Also, my sleep has improved significantly. I put it down removing sugar from my diet.”
Lucy, who says her confidence has grown immensely, encourages fellow weight-watchers to plan their meals and their food shop, and to remove temptation by not having junk food in the house. “Drink plenty of water and have as many green vegetables as you can,” she advised. “Once you start losing the weight, it’s amazing how many compliments you start getting, especially when we go to the gym. Now, people are coming up to us and saying, ‘Wow, you two look fantastic’ which is almost embarrassing, but it’s lovely though!
“It’s good that you can show people an example, and I always say to people ‘If you do mess up, don’t beat yourself up about it. Really just reset and go again.’ You know, it’s a journey isn’t it? It’s not a pass or fail exam.”
Commenting on Lucy’s success, Dr Mosley told the Mirror: “What is fascinating about Lucy is the fact that she has arthritis. She obviously had chronic inflammation, and when she lost weight, the inflammation massively reduced, allowing her to go to the gym and exercise more.
“We know that excess weight, as well as increasing your risk of high blood pressure, high blood sugars, and high cholesterol, also leads to chronic inflammation, which in turn contributes to conditions like arthritis. Lucy has a very inspiring story of how you can improve other things you might not expect as a result of significant weight loss”. He added: “You can make simple changes to your diet and lifestyle that can have a big impact on your health and wellbeing without it having to be a major chore.
“For example, you can try intermittent fasting, which involves restricting your calories on some days and eating normally on others. You could also try Time Restricted Eating, where you finish your last meal of the day at least three hours before you go to bed, then fast for 12, 14 or 16 hours before eating again.”
Dieters must be aware that intense weight loss can have an impact on blood sugar levels. During phase one, side effects such as headaches and tiredness may be experienced.
The NHS advise that no single rule applies to everyone, but to lose weight at a safe and sustainable rate of 0.5 to 1kg a week, most people are advised to reduce their energy intake by 600 calories a day. For more information, please read the NHS website here https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/obesity/treatment/