Updated 3 months ago

Eating dinner early, or skipping it, may be effective in fighting body fat

The first human test of early time-restricted feeding found that this meal-timing strategy increased people’s ability to burn fat and reduced swings in hunger, two key factors in losing weight. In early time-restricted feeding (eTRF), people eat their last meal by the mid-afternoon and don’t eat again until breakfast the next morning. The findings were unveiled during an oral presentation on November 3rd at The Obesity Society Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The World Health Organization defines overweight and obesity as having abnormal or excessive fat accumulation which is associated with a risk to health. People who are overweight or obese are at an increased risk for many chronic diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. There has been a doubling of obesity worldwide since 1980.

In an early time restricted feeding approach people are supposed to eat their last meal of the day by the middle of the afternoon and not eat again until the next morning at breakfast time. Courtney Peterson, PhD, who was the leader of the study at Pennington Biomedical Research Center, has said eating only during a significantly smaller window of time than people are generally accustomed to may assist them with weight loss via increasing the ability of our body's to burn protein and fat.

There is an internal clock in the body with many aspects of metabolism functioning best in the morning. There can be a positive influence on health by eating in alignment with the circadian clock of the body. Fat is metabolized better this way with associated decreases in chronic diseases.

It was observed that eating between the hours of 8am and 2pm with an 18-hour daily fast after that burned more fat and kept appetite levels more even during the day, in comparison to eating at the standard hours between 8am and 8pm. It has been suggested by this study that eating dinner very early, or simply skipping dinner, may prove to be a more effective strategy for losing weight than skipping breakfast. To eliminate subjectivity, the researchers had all participants try both eating schedules, eat the same number of calories both times, and complete rigorous testing under supervision.

"These preliminary findings suggest for the first time in humans what we've seen in animal models -- that the timing of eating during the day does have an impact on our metabolism," said Dale Schoeller, PhD, FTOS spokesperson for The Obesity Society and Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin. "With additional research on early-time restricted feeding on humans, we can create a more complete picture of whether this innovative method can best help prevent and treat obesity."

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