Changing meal times could reduce body fat, says new study

Changing meal times could reduce body fat, says new study

New research suggests that making even modest changes to breakfast and dinner times could reduce body fat.

The research, published in the Journal of Nutritional Sciences, sought to determine whether making changes to meal times could reduce body fat, and to investigate the impact that this would have on dietary intake, body composition and blood risk markers for diabetes and heart disease.

Changing meal times to fit a pattern of what is known as ‘time-restricted feeding’, which involves intermittent fasting, was shown to have a significant impact on body fat in participants, irrespective of the food they chose to consume.

How did the team study the effect of intermittent fasting on the body?

A team based at the University of Surrey, UK, and led by Dr Jonathan Johnston, undertook a ten-week study during which participants were split into two groups – a control group, in which participants were allowed to eat normally, and a second group in which participants were required to delay their breakfast by 90 minutes and eat their dinner 90 minutes earlier.

Researchers took blood tests and filled in a feedback questionnaire following the study, which indicated that 57% of participants in the second group reported a reduction in their food intake, despite the fact that no limits were placed on how much food they were allowed to eat.

What did the study find about changing meal times and body fat?

Ultimately, participants who followed the time-restricted feeding diet lost twice as much body fat as those in the control group, and while it is not known whether the extended period of fasting contributed to this, the researchers speculate that there could be broad health benefits to this type of diet.

The next stage of the research will explore the wider applications of fasting diets, Johnston revealed. He 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. We are now going to use these preliminary findings to design larger, more comprehensive studies of time-restricted feeding.”

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