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Determinants of Adherence in Time-Restricted Feeding in Older Adults: Lessons from a Pilot Study

  • Lee, Stephanie A.1
  • Sypniewski, Caroline1
  • Bensadon, Benjamin A.1
  • McLaren, Christian1
  • Donahoo, William T.
  • Sibille, Kimberly T.1
  • Anton, Stephen1, 2
  • 1 (K.T.S.)
  • 2 Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610, USA
Published Article
Publication Date
Mar 24, 2020
DOI: 10.3390/nu12030874
PMID: 32213965
PMCID: PMC7146127
PubMed Central


Time-restricted feeding (TRF) is a type of intermittent fasting in which no calories are commonly consumed for approximately 12–18 hours on a daily basis. The health benefits of this eating pattern have been shown in overweight adults, with improvements in cardiometabolic risk factors as well as the preservation of lean mass during weight loss. Although TRF has been well studied in younger and middle-aged adults, few studies have evaluated the effects of TRF in older adults. Thus, the goal of this study was to evaluate older-adult perspectives regarding the real-world advantages, disadvantages, and challenges to adopting a TRF eating pattern among participants aged 65 and over. A four-week single-arm pre- and post-test design was used for this clinical pilot trial TRF intervention study. Participants were instructed to fast for approximately 16 h per day with the daily target range between 14 and 18 h. Participants were provided with the TRF protocol at a baseline visit, along with a pictorial guide that depicted food items and beverages that were allowed and not allowed during fasting windows to reinforce that calorie-containing items were to be avoided. The trial interventionist called each participant weekly to promote adherence, review the protocol, monitor for adverse events, and provide support and guidance for any challenges faced during the intervention. Participants were instructed to complete daily eating time logs by recording the times at which they first consumed calories and when they stopped consuming calories. At the end of the intervention, participants completed an exit interview and a study-specific Diet Satisfaction Survey (Table 1) to assess their satisfaction, feasibility, and overall experience with the study intervention. Of the 10 participants who commenced the study (mean age = 77.1 y; 6 women, 4 men), nine completed the entire protocol. Seven of the ten participants reported easy adjustment to a 16-hour fast and rated the difference from normal eating patterns as minimal. Eight participants reported no decrease in energy during fasting periods, with greater self-reported activity levels in yardwork and light exercise. Adverse events were rare, and included transient headaches, which dissipated with increased water intake, and dizziness in one participant, which subsided with a small snack. The findings of the current trial suggest that TRF is an eating approach that is well tolerated by most older adults. Six participants, however, did not fully understand the requirements of the fasting regimen, despite being provided with specific instructions and a pictorial guide at a baseline visit. This suggests that more instruction and/or participant contact is needed in the early stages of a TRF intervention to promote adherence.

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