Evidence is growing that adjusting the timing of your first and last meals to fit in with peak metabolism could help slim you down.
In a study of 13 candidates whose mealtimes were manipulated, Dr Jonathan Johnston, of the University of Surrey, concluded that: “People can still, to some degree, eat the food that they would like but if they simply change the time at which they eat then that can have a long-term benefit.”
According to a report in the London Telegraph, the research team believes that by moving both breakfast and dinner closer to the middle of the day, participants may have more closely attuned their eating times with their circadian rhythms, allowing for improved metabolism.
Another theory as to why the participants lost weight was due to having had a longer fasting period overnight.
It was also found that although there were no restrictions on what participants could eat, those who changed their mealtimes ate less food than the control group.
“I would never say it’s a magic bullet, but it could be an important piece of the jigsaw,” Dr Johnston said. “Reduction in body fat lessens our chances of developing obesity and related diseases, so is vital in improving our overall health.”
Writing in the Journal of Nutritional Science, the team concluded: “Data from this 10-week pilot study provide initial evidence that a modest contraction of the eating window is achievable within a free-living human population.
“Moreover, the time-restricted feeding (TRF) intervention elicited favourable changes in dietary intakes, accompanied by a reduction in adiposity. The importance of this ‘unintentional’ dietary modification is important in the context of our obesogenic environment.”
But the scientists did warn that altering the time that meals were eaten affected social eating and drinking opportunities in the evening.
“Larger studies are now required and, based on our preliminary findings, should also carefully consider personal/social considerations of participants undertaking TRF protocols to maximise compliance.”
Some years ago and in the same publication, the researcher had reported results of an animal study that showed clear links between circadian, metabolic and nutritional biology.
How late do you have your evening meal? Does it seem to make a difference to how you sleep or how much weight you gain if you leave dinner too late? Would you be able to delay breakfast until later in the morning?