Health researchers have long known that eating earlier in the day can help with weight loss because metabolism rates seem to be highest at that time. This, of course, has led to many theories about how to structure a diet not only based on calories, fats, and nutritional components, but also on what time of the day is best to eat.
New research, though, attempted to learn if there is a precise window of time that best suits a weight loss strategy. And scientists have identified that there is, in fact, a somewhat narrow window of time for eating that improves weight loss, when accompanied with several hours of fasting.
Of course, the results of this analysis are quite encouraging but it also introduces a new question of why or how does this mechanism work. Is it that eating in the morning—when metabolism is higher—leads to the burning of more calories or is it that eating in the morning makes you less hungry throughout the day? Or is it some combination of these things, or maybe something else altogether?
In an attempt to answer these questions, then, a team of researcher conducted a study that measures appetite changes compared with the number of calories burned among people following the Early Time-Restricted Feeding (eTRF) dietary strategy. Essentially this is just a fancy term for a form of intermittent fasting.
For the study, participants were instructed to follow two different meal schedules. For the first four days they could eat at any time between 8am and 8pm, which is a somewhat typical daily schedule for the average American adult. For the next four days, though, they had to follow the same meals schedule in a window of 8am to 2pm.
On the fourth day of each meal cycle, the study participants had to stay in a controlled environment for the next 24 hours so the researchers could measure various health data. This led to somewhat surprising results.
Study author Courtney Peterson explains that while the experiment showed no difference in calorie burning between the two regimens, the eTRF guideline helped burn more fat and also reduced appetite levels.
The University of Alabama-Birmingham Department of Nutrition Sciences assistant professor goes on to call this a major victory noting that making people less hungry helps them to not only lose weight but also maintain that healthy weight.
The results of this study have been published in the journal Obesity.