Making small adjustments to the time you eat your breakfast and dinner could make a big difference to your weight, according to a new study from the University of Surrey.
The 10-week study examined ‘time-restricted feeding’ across two groups – one who delayed their breakfast by 90 minutes and ate dinner 90 minutes earlier, and those who didn’t change mealtimes.
Previous studies have controlled these factors, but the reason this research was unique was that participants weren’t told to stick to a particular diet and could eat as normal.
Those who changed their mealtimes lost on average more than twice as much body fat as those in the control group, according to the results published in the Journal of Nutritional Sciences.
Interestingly, the participants who changed their mealtimes ate less food overall, with 57 per cent noting a reduction in food intake during the experiment. This was for various reasons, including them feeling less hungry or just cutting back on evening snacking.
Would you change your meal times to lose weight?
It’s all very well eating at odd times for an experiment, but how practical is changing breakfast and supper? When asked if they’d continue with later breakfasts and earlier dinners, more than half (57 per cent) felt that they wouldn’t, as it didn’t work well with their social and family lives. However, 43 per cent are planning to keep it up.
The future of fasting diets
“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,” says Dr Jonathan Johnston, Reader in Chronobiology and Integrative Physiology at 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.
“However, 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.
“We are now going to use these preliminary findings to design larger, more comprehensive studies of time-restricted feeding”.