Making relatively small adjustments to meal times can increase weight loss rapidly, research finds.
Participants in one study who changed their meal timings lost twice as much fat as a comparison group.
They did this without restricting their diet in any other way or doing more exercise.
One option for changing mealtimes is to delay breakfast until later and to eat supper earlier.
For example, by delaying breakfast by 90 minutes and eating dinner 90 minutes earlier.
Another approach is to shift calories to earlier in the day by having a larger breakfast and smaller supper.
Studies have shown that people who eat larger breakfasts can lose more weight.
A recent study tested the weight loss technique of restricting eating to between 8am and 2pm.
To test the approach, 11 overweight people followed this diet for four days.
The results showed that this technique helps to reduce daily swings in hunger.
Dr Courtney Peterson, the study’s first author, explained the benefits:
“Eating only during a much smaller window of time than people are typically used to may help with weight loss.
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 median American does.”
Both human and rodent studies have found that the technique of shifting meal times can increase weight loss.
Professor Dale Schoeller, commenting on the study, said:
“These preliminary findings suggest for the first time in humans what we’ve seen in animal models — that the timing of eating during the day does have an impact on our metabolism.
With additional research on early-time restricted feeding on humans, we can create a more complete picture of whether this innovative method can best help prevent and treat obesity.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was presented at The Obesity Society Annual Meeting (Peterson et al., 2017).