Fridge raid

Have dinner earlier if you’re trying to lose weight, study says

A preliminary human trial has shown that changing your eating schedule could help with weight loss. The results show it can help reduce swings in appetite and change fat and carbohydrate burning patterns in the body.

Fridge raid

Image credits bark / Flickr.

It’s an old wives’ tale that might have actually gotten it right. The first human trial or early time-restricted feeding (eTRF) has shown that the practice could help you get rid of the holiday belly. It’s a pretty straightforward practice: eat your last meal by mid-afternoon and then fast until breakfast the next morning.

Which is bad news, since I can’t remember having a single breakfast with ‘a.m.’ still showing on the clock since starting college.

“Eating only during a much smaller window of time than people are typically used to may help with weight loss,” said Courtney Peterson, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Nutrition Sciences at UAB.

“We found that eating between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. followed by an 18-hour daily fast kept appetite levels more even throughout the day, in comparison to eating between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., which is what the average American does.”


All you have to do is eat a very early dinner, or even skip it altogether. Your body works by following has several internal timetables, called circadian rhythms. They power-up and shut down systems throughout the body, and several key metabolic processes are most efficient in the morning. Eating in tandem with these processes means your body is better prepared to absorb and process the nutrients in your food.

For the study, Peterson and her team followed 11 men and women with excess weight two four-day periods. First, were asked to eat between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m., then between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. They noted the impact of eTRF on the numbers of calories burned, the amount of fat burned, and appetite levels. The participants followed both schedules, ate the same number of calories during both, and were supervised throughout the testing period.

The team reports that although eTRF did not affect the participants’ calorie intake or how many they burned off, it reduced hunger swings throughout the day and increased levels of fat being burned during several hours at night. They also report that the practice improved metabolic flexibility — the body’s ability to switch between burning carbs and fats.


However, keep in mind that this is still very early research and definitively not conclusive on its own. It’s still not clear if eTRF helps with long-term weight loss or brings other health benefits to the table. Peterson says that a larger, more comprehensive study is required to confirm or contradict the findings.

ETRF has previously been proven effective in animals, helping lab rats burn off more fat and decreasing the onset of chronic diseases. This trial shows that humans too could maybe benefit from the practice.

The paper was presented at The Obesity Society Annual Meeting at Obesity Week 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana.


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