Could changing your meal schedule lead to weight loss?
Eating an early dinner or skipping it altogether could be effective in fighting body fat, according to research.
Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham studied whether a person could burn more fat if they altered their eating schedule. A group of 11 men and women followed a unique diet where they ate all of their meals for the day by mid-afternoon.
“Eating only during a much smaller window of time than people are typically used to may help with weight loss,” said Courtney Peterson, lead researcher. “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 average American does.”
The study’s results indicated that the early time-restricted feeding reduced daily hunger swings and increased the amount of fat burned at night. It also improved metabolic flexibility, which is the body’s ability to switch between burning carbs and fats.
Elizabeth Zawila, a registered dietitian at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital’s Health and Wellness Center in Downers Grove, Ill., questions the practicality of early time-restricted feeding.
“Many of us have long days and need regular nourishment throughout the day to keep our energy up in order to perform best at our daily responsibilities. I really think there would be so much more benefit to choosing higher quality foods and more reasonable portions than there would be to this sort of rigid meal planning,” says Zawila.
Instead, she recommends meal planning, eating on a regular schedule and without distractions.
“The takeaway from this study is that there is likely a benefit to having some sort of cut-off point as to when the kitchen is closed for the night. I suggest avoiding night time nibbling by finding activities other than eating to help you relax and unwind,” says Zawila.
About the Author
Johnna Kelly, healthe news contributor, is a manager of public affairs and marketing at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn. She is a former newspaper reporter and spent nearly 10 years as a public relations professional working for state and county government. During her time as a communications staffer for the Illinois General Assembly, she was integral in drafting and passing legislation creating Andrea's Law, the nation's first murderer registry. In her spare time, she volunteers at a local homeless shelter, enjoys traveling, photography and watching the Chicago Bulls.