Modest changes to breakfast and dinner timings can reduce body fat, lowering the risk of developing obesity and related diseases, according to a study.
Modest changes to breakfast and dinner timings can reduce body fat, lowering the risk of developing obesity and related diseases, according to a study. During a 10-week study on ‘time-restricted feeding’, researchers from the University of Surrey in the UK investigated the impact of changing meal times on dietary intake, body composition and blood risk markers for diabetes and heart disease.
Participants were split into two groups – those who were required to delay their breakfast by 90 minutes and have their dinner 90 minutes earlier, and those who ate meals as they would normally (the controls). The study, published in the Journal of Nutritional Sciences, found that those who changed their mealtimes lost on average more than twice as much body fat as those in the control group, who ate their meals as normal.
The study provides “invaluable insight into how slight alterations to our meal times can have benefits to our bodies,” said Jonathan Johnston from the University of Surrey. “Reduction in body fat lessens our chances of developing obesity and related diseases, so is vital in improving our overall health,” Johnston said.
If these pilot data can be repeated in larger studies, there is potential for time-restricted feeding to have broad health benefits, researchers said. Although there were no restrictions on what participants could eat, researchers found that those who changed their mealtimes ate less food overall than the control group.
This result was supported by questionnaire responses which found that 57 per cent of participants noted a reduction in food intake either due to reduced appetite, decreased eating opportunities or a cutback in snacking. It is currently uncertain whether the longer fasting period undertaken by this group was also a contributing factor to this reduction in body fat, researchers said.
They also examined if fasting diets are compatible with everyday life and long-term commitment. When questioned, 57 per cent of participants felt they could not have maintained the new meal times beyond the prescribed 10 weeks because of their incompatibility with family and social life, researchers said. However, 43 per cent of participants would consider continuing if eating times were more flexible, they said.