New research suggests that there may be an ideal time window for eating during the day.
Eating relatively early may be beneficial for weight loss, and keeping meals within a 10-hour period can improve blood sugar and cholesterol levels, according to two small studies published Tuesday in the journal Cell Metabolism.
The The first study It found that eating later made people hungrier over a 24-hour period compared to when they ate the same meals earlier in the day. Eating later also caused study participants to burn calories at a slower rate, and their fat tissues seemed to store more calories in the later eating schedule than in the first. Overall, the study suggests that eating later can increase a person’s obesity risk.
Second study, conducted on a group of firefighters, found that eating meals within 10 hours reduced “bad” cholesterol particles — suggesting a possible reduction in risk factors for heart disease. This eating window also improved blood pressure and blood sugar levels among firefighters with underlying health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
The two studies add to existing evidence that there may be ideal times to start and stop eating, according to Courtney Peterson, associate professor of nutritional sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham who was not involved in either study.
“You have this internal biological clock that makes you better at doing different things at different times of the day,” Peterson said. “The best time for your metabolism for most people seems to be mid to late morning.”
Satchidananda Panda, a co-author on the firefighter study and a professor at the Salk Institute, said the 10-hour window seems like a “sweet spot” because the more severe restrictions that characterize many intermittent fasting regimes are harder to maintain.
“When we think about six or eight hours, you might see a benefit, but people might not stick with it for that long,” Panda said.
Late eating canTurning the scales towards weight gain
The first of the two new studies included 16 people who were overweight or obese. They tried two different eating regimens for one day each. First, some participants started eating an hour after they naturally woke up, while the rest waited to start eating until about five hours after waking. The two groups then switched tables at a later date.
The meals they all ate were identical and the amount of calories and nutrients was consistent across both schedules, according to Frank Sher, lead author of the study and director of the Medical Biology Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
The researchers measured the participants’ hormone levels and found that eating late reduced levels of leptin – a hormone that helps people feel full – by 16% on average. Late eating also doubled people’s odds of feeling hungry (people reported an appetite level 18 times over the course of the day).
Moreover, the researchers found that those who ate late had an increased desire for starchy and salty foods, as well as meat, dairy, and vegetables. This may be because people crave more energy-dense foods when they’re hungrier, Cher said.
The study also found consistent changes in adipose tissue associated with a delayed eating regimen, indicating an increased likelihood of new fat cell formation and a decreased chance of burning fat.
Finally, the results showed that the people who ate later burned about 60 fewer calories than those who ate earlier each day, although Peterson said that “is equivalent to eating an extra half an apple a day, so it’s not a huge change.” .
Although a study published last month in the same journal found that people didn’t burn more calories by eating a large breakfast and a light dinner, Peterson said the two studies measured a different set of results.
“Your body processes calories differently when you eat later in the day. It tilts the scales in favor of being overweight and gaining fat,” Peterson said, adding, “From this study, we can get very clear recommendations that people shouldn’t skip breakfast. .”
But Scheer said more research is needed before he feels comfortable making any recommendations.
A 10-hour eating window can reduce risk factors for heart disease
In the second study, 137 firefighters in San Diego, California, followed a Mediterranean diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fish and olive oil for 12 weeks. Seventy firefighters ate their meals within 10 hours, while the rest generally ate more than 13 hours.
Firefighters recorded their meals in an app and wore wearable devices to help researchers track their blood sugar levels. Most of the participants in the 10-hour group ate between 8 or 9 a.m. and 6 or 7 p.m. (although they sometimes strayed outside the window, extending into an 11 or 12 hour period).
Among the healthy firefighters, time-restricted eating showed “positive effects that should translate into fewer arterial deposits and less cardiovascular disease,” Peterson said. Firefighters in that group also reported improved quality of life.
Among firefighters with pre-existing risk factors for heart disease, time-restricted eating lowered blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
“There is a lot of hints that time-restricted eating improves glycemic control and blood pressure, but this is the first study to actually test this on a large scale in people on shift work,” Peterson said.
Previous animal research has shown that during periods of fasting, Panda said, “organs get a break from digesting food so they can shift their energy toward cell repair.”
Panda said the fasting period also appears to allow the accumulated toxins to be broken down. Peterson added that during fasting, the body can get rid of sodium, which in turn lowers blood pressure.
She said she wouldn’t be surprised if we finally see national recommendations about window or meal times in the next five to 10 years in the United States
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