Eating dinner early – or skipping it – may improve metabolism

November 7, 2016 in Nutrition Topics in the News, Weight Management

Eating dinner early – or skipping it – may improve metabolism

The first human study of early time-restricted feeding found that this meal-timing strategy reduced hunger and altered fat and carbohydrate burning patterns, which may help with losing weight.

In early time-restricted feeding), people eat their last meal by the mid-afternoon and don't eat again until breakfast the next morning. The findings were presented at The Obesity Society Annual Meeting 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The researchers found that eating between 8 am and 2 pm followed by an 18-hour daily fast kept appetite levels more even throughout the day, in comparison to eating between 8 am and 8 pm, which is what the average North American does.

This new research, conducted at Pennington Biomedical Research Center, suggests that eating a very early dinner, or even skipping dinner, may have some benefits for losing weight. The body has an internal (circadian) clock, and many aspects of metabolism are at their optimal functioning in the morning.

Eating in alignment with the body's circadian clock by eating earlier in the day can positively influence health

Early time-restricted eaters were less hungry, burned more fat

To conduct the study, the research team followed 11 overweight men and women over four days of eating between 8 am and 2 pm, and four days of eating between 8 m and 8 pm. The researchers then measured calories burned, fat burned and appetite. The researchers had all participants try both eating schedules, eat the same number of calories both times and complete rigorous testing under supervision.

The researchers found that although early time-restricted feeding did not affect how many calories participants burned, it reduced daily hunger swings and increased fat burning during several hours at night.

It also improved metabolic flexibility, which is the body's ability to switch between burning carbs and fats.

These preliminary findings suggest for the first time in humans what scientists have seen in animal studies – that the timing of eating during the day has an impact on metabolism.

Whether this eating pattern helps with weight loss or improves other aspects of health is still unknown.

Source: Obesity Society, November 2016.

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