Want to Lose That Stubborn Fat? Eat Dinner Early or Skip It Altogether

Obese people who are struggling hard for years to shed that stubborn flab can heave a sigh of relief as a one of its kind study has suggested an effective meal-timing strategy that would help with losing weight.

The novel study by researchers at Pennington Biomedical Research Centre in the US tested early time-restricted feeding (eTRF) on humans and found it reduced swings in hunger which altered fat and carbohydrate burning patterns.

What is eTRF? It is an idea of eating the last meal of the day in the early part of the day. This meal-timing strategy encourages people to eat their last meal by the mid-afternoon and do not eat again until breakfast the next morning. In other words, people can eat dinner at 2 PM followed by an 18-hour fast until breakfast in the next morning.

The US researchers, for the first time, tested the eTRF in humans and found that this restricted eating pattern can have positive impact on metabolism, which can lead to significant weight loss.

The eTRF helps in reducing hunger swings, altering fat and carbohydrate burning patterns, which may boost weight loss, the researchers said.

“Eating only during a much smaller window of time than people are typically used to may help with weight loss,” said Courtney Peterson, researcher at Pennington Biomedical Research Centre in the US.

“We 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 median American does,” said Peterson.

For the purpose of the study, Peterson and her team of researchers involved 11 overweight adult men and women, aged between 20-45 years. All the participants were carrying excess body weight but without any chronic ailment.

All the study subjects were followed-up for over four days of eating between 8am and 2pm (eTRF) with no eating until 8 AM next morning, and four days of eating between 8am and 8pm. They also examined how eTRF pattern influenced burning of calories and fat and its impact on appetite.

All the participants, with a mean weight of 88.1 kg and a mean BMI of 30, ate on both schedules, consumed same number of calories and followed the same sleep and exercise pattern.

Findings demonstrated that the study subjects eating between 8am and 2pm (eTRF) had improved hunger swings, protein oxidation and metabolic flexibility compared with controls. While the eTRF did not affect the number of calories participants burned, it did reduce daily hunger swings and increased fat burning during night hours.

“I think time-restricted feeding does two beneficial things,” said Peterson. “It increases metabolic flexibility, although it remains to be seen if it translates into improvements in metabolic health, and it keeps hunger levels more stable. But the effect sizes are much smaller in humans than in rodents.”

The findings were unveiled recently at The Obesity Society Annual Meeting at Obesity Week 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana.