Simply changing your eating schedule like taking the last meal of the day by the mid-afternoon can help burn fat and lose weight, suggests new research.
The study that tested early time-restricted feeding (eTRF) on humans found that this meal-timing strategy reduced swings in hunger and altered fat and carbohydrate burning patterns, which may help with losing weight.
With eTRF, people eat their last meal by the mid-afternoon and do not eat again until breakfast the next morning.
“Eating only during a much smaller window of time than people are typically used to may help with weight loss,” said one of the researchers Courtney Peterson, Associate Professor at University of Alabama at Birmingham in the US.
The human body has an internal clock, and many aspects of metabolism are at their optimal functioning in the morning.
Therefore, eating in alignment with the body’s circadian clock by eating earlier in the day may positively influence health.
Previous animal studies showed that early time-restricted feeding helped rodents burn more fat.
During the current study, Peterson and her colleagues followed a small group of men and women with excess weight over four days of eating between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m., and four days of eating between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Researchers then tested the impact of the meal timing strategy on calories burned, fat burned and appetite.
Participants tried both eating schedules, ate the same number of calories both times and completed all testing under supervision.
Researchers found that, although eTRF did not affect how many total calories participants burned, it reduced daily hunger swings and increased fat burning during several hours at night.
It also improved metabolic flexibility, which is the body’s ability to switch between burning carbohydrates and burning fats.
Whether early time-restricted feeding helps with long-term weight loss or improves other aspects of health is still unknown.
Because the study involved only a small number of participants, a larger, more comprehensive study will need to take place to confirm the finding, Peterson said.