ATLANTA — Changing what you eat to lose weight can be challenging, but adjusting when you eat could make the process a bit easier, according to a new report on intermittent fasting.
Researchers from the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom recently conducted a small, 10-week study, published in the Journal of Nutritional Sciences, to investigate how changing meal times can impact dietary intake, body composition and blood risk markers.
To do so, they examined adults, splitting them into two groups. One was required to delay breakfast by 90 minutes and eat dinner 90 minutes earlier, and the control group ate meals as they would normally.
All participants had to provide blood samples, complete diet diaries and fill out a questionnaire immediately after the study.
After analyzing the results, the scientists found that those who changed their mealtimes lost more than twice as much body fat as those in the control group.
While there were no restrictions on what the subjects could eat, the analysts said those who changed their meal times ate less food overall, compared with the control group.
Furthermore, the questionnaire responses revealed that 57 percent of participants reported a reduction in food intake due to reduced appetite, decreased eating opportunities or a cutback in snacking.
"Although this study is small, it has provided us with invaluable insight into how slight alterations to our meal times can have benefits to our bodies," co-author Jonathan Johnston said in a statement. "Reduction in body fat lessens our chances of developing obesity and related diseases, so is vital in improving our overall health."
The researchers also explored whether fasting diets were compatible with “everyday life and long-term commitment,” the team said.
In the same questionnaire, 57 percent of the participants said they could not have maintained the new meal times after the 10-week period, because of their family and social life. However, 43 percent said they would consider continuing if eating times were more flexible.
“As we have seen with these participants, fasting diets are difficult to follow and may not always be compatible with family and social life. We therefore need to make sure they are flexible and conducive to real life, as the potential benefits of such diets are clear to see,” Johnston said. “We are now going to use these preliminary findings to design larger, more comprehensive studies of time-restricted feeding.”
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