In a new study, researchers found that meal timing strategies — like intermittent fasting or eating earlier in the daytime — may help people lose weight.
This method was shown to lower appetite and burn more fat.
The research was conducted by a team from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
In the study, the team enrolled 11 adult men and women who had excess weight.
Participants were adults in general good health and aged 20 to 45 years old. They had a BMI between 25 and 35 kg/m2 (inclusive), body weight between 68 and 100 kg.
The participants tried two different meal timing strategies in random order: a control schedule where participants ate three meals during a 12-hour period with breakfast at 8 a.m. and dinner at 8 p.m. and an Early Time-Restricting Feeding (eTRF) schedule where participants ate three meals over a 6-hour period with breakfast at 8 a.m. and dinner at 2 p.m.
ETRF meal schedule is a form of daily intermittent fasting where dinner is eaten in the afternoon.
The two meal-timing groups involved the same amounts and types of foods. Fasting periods for the control schedule included 12 hours per day, while the eTRF schedule involved fasting for 18 hours per day.
Study participants followed the different schedules for four days in a row.
On the fourth day, researchers measured the metabolism of participants.
The researchers also measured the appetite levels of participants every three hours while they were awake, as well as hunger hormones in the morning and evening.
They found that eTRF could lower levels of the hunger hormone in the people and improved some aspects of appetite. It also increased fat-burning over the 24-hour day.
They explain that the eTRF may help to improve people’s ability to switch between burning carbs for energy to burning fat for energy, an aspect of metabolism known as metabolic flexibility.
Future work needs to test whether these strategies help people lose body fat.
The lead author of the study is Courtney M. Peterson, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition Sciences.
The study is published in the journal Obesity, the flagship journal of The Obesity Society.
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