How One Woman Lost 4 Pounds Without Eating Any Less Than Usual

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When Cosmopolitan fitness and health editor Elizabeth Narins noticed her usual holiday weight gain, she decided to test the waters on a new weight loss plan called time-restricted eating.

The plan involves eating the same amount of food you'd normally eat — just condensed into shorter amounts of time throughout the day. So instead of balancing your daily menu throughout the day, you eat within a six to eight-hour time period.

Narins spoke to Coutney Peterson, PhD, an assistant nutrition science professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham who has led many studies about time-restricted eating.

"Restricting your eating between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. [like subjects in my latest study] is difficult," she admitted to Narins. "But no one dropped out because it was too extreme. The biggest challenge people encountered was eating so much food in such a short period of time. People felt so stuffed!"

In fact, not only did Narins find that eating her entire day's worth of food was difficult, she also found it was hard to put breakfast off until 10 a.m. Check out her daily meal plan:

10 a.m.

1 cup of berries, 2 hard-boiled eggs, 1 slice Ezekiel toast, 1/3 avocado and dash of cayenne, coffee with unsweetened almond milk

11 a.m.

1 cup of raw veggies, 2 tablespoons hummnus

1:30 p.m.

Green salad with veggies, 4-6 ounces of grilled chicken, tuna or shrimp, 1/2 cup chickpeas, 1 tablespoon seeds or nuts, 2 teaspoons olive oil and vinegar

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3 p.m.

1 apple, 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter with sprinkle of cinnamon, mint tea

5:30 p.m.

1 cup vegetable soup, 4 ounces grilled chicken or salmon, 1 cup roasted vegetables with drizzle of olive oil, herbs and sea salt

Because all of Narins' eating time was spent at work, this meant prepping her food for the week on Sunday and lugging it around with her all day.

"Commuting to work with a full bag of food while my stomach growled in anticipation of my first meal felt particularly silly," Narins wrote. "As someone who believes in intuitive eating, or listening to your body's signals and eating when you're hungry, I generally see no reason to endure hunger when food is readily available. Testing my willpower by starving on purpose felt misguided and, frankly, sort of disordered."

Not only was Narins skipping breakfast, but she was also skipping a pre- or post-workout meal, since she wakes up early to hit the gym before going to work.

Narins says despite not eating after 5:30 p.m., she was never hungry late at night — and she actually slept like a baby. After two weeks, she noticed that she had lost 3 or 4 pounds, but still decided to give up on the plan.

"While I felt great about my results and proud of my resolve, I just can't rationalize suffering through the morning hanger I felt while practicing time-restricted eating, which got only vaguely easier as the week wore on," Narins wrote. "I definitely didn't like eating dinner early at my desk, which did no wonders for my social life, quality of life, or marriage (my husband hated eating dinner alone too)."

Narins says that while she doesn't have any plans to continue the time-restricted eating plan, she says it's nice knowing she can go back to it if she notices any weight gain.

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