It may seem hard to believe but researchers have found that what time you eat influences your body fat.
According to a study published in the Journal of Nutritional Sciences, small changes to breakfast and dinner times can reduce body fat.
The 10-week study on ‘time-restricted feeding was conducted by researchers from the University of Surrey. Led by Dr Jonathan Johnston, the research investigated the impact changing meal times has on dietary intake, body composition and blood risk markers for diabetes and heart disease.
The study consisted of two groups, one group was required to delay their breakfast for 90 minutes and have their dinner 90 minutes earlier while the other group ate their meals normally. Blood samples were then taken along with diet diaries being kept during the 10-week intervention and they were asked to complete a feedback questionnaire immediately after the study.
The results were surprising as it was found that those who changed their mealtimes lost on average more than twice as much body fat as those in the control group, who ate their meals as normal. If these pilot data can be repeated in larger studies, there is potential for time-restricted feeding to have broad health benefits.
Asked to comment on the findings of the study, Dr Jonathan Johnston, Reader in Chronobiology and Integrative Physiology at the University of Surrey, said:
“Although this study is small, it has provided us with invaluable insight into how slight alterations to our meal times can have benefits to our bodies. Reduction in body fat lessens our chances of developing obesity and related diseases, so is vital in improving our overall health.
“However, as we have seen with these participants, fasting diets are difficult to follow and may not always be compatible with family and social life. We therefore need to make sure they are flexible and conducive to real life, as the potential benefits of such diets are clear to see.
“We are now going to use these preliminary findings to design larger, more comprehensive studies of time-restricted feeding.”