According to two small studies published on Tuesday in the journal Cell Metabolism, eating relatively early may help with weight loss and keeping meals within a 10-hour window may enhance blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
In the first study, it was discovered that eating later made people feel more peckish over the course of a day than when they ate the same meals earlier in the day.
In the second study, which involved a group of firefighters, it was discovered that eating within a 10-hour window resulted in smaller “bad cholesterol” particles, potentially lowering the risk of heart disease.
Additionally, those firefighters with underlying medical conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol saw improvements in their blood pressure and blood sugar levels during that eating window.
Associate professor of nutrition sciences at the University of Alabama in Birmingham Courtney Peterson, who was not involved in either study, believes the two studies add to the body of evidence suggesting there may be ideal times to begin and end eating.
“You have a biological clock inside of you that helps you perform tasks more effectively at certain times of the day. Mid- to late morning appears to be when most people’s metabolisms function at their peak, according to Peterson.
Circadian rhythms, the body’s internal clock that controls sleep and waking, have been linked to changes in people’s appetite, metabolism, and blood sugar levels, according to earlier studies.
A 10-hour window appears to be a “sweet spot,” according to co-author of the firefighter study and Salk Institute professor Satchidananda Panda, because it is difficult to maintain the more stringent restriction that many intermittent fasting diets call for.
Panda said that when considering six or eight hours, “you might see a benefit, but people might not stick to it for a long time.”
The scales may tip in favour of weight gain if you eat late.
In the first of the two new studies, 16 overweight or obese participants were used.
For one day each, they experimented with two different diets. The participants divided into two groups: those who began eating immediately after their natural wake-up time and those who waited until roughly five hours after waking up.
Frank Scheer, director of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Medical Chronobiology Program, is the study’s senior author. He claims that the meals they all consumed were the same, and the amount of calories and nutrients was constant across both schedules.
Leptin, a hormone that aids in the feeling of fullness, was found to be reduced by 16% on average after eating late, according to the researchers’ measurements of the hormone levels of the participants.
Additionally, people were twice as likely to feel hungry after eating late (people self-reported their appetite level at 18 times throughout the day).
The researchers also discovered that late eaters had a greater appetite for salty and starchy foods, as well as for meat, dairy, and vegetables. That may be because people crave more foods that are high in energy when they are hungry, according to Scheer.
The study also discovered consistent changes in fat tissue linked to the late-eating routine, which suggests a higher probability of forming new fat cells and a lower probability of burning fat.
The findings also revealed that late eaters burned about 60 fewer calories than early eaters each day, though Peterson noted that this was “equivalent to eating an extra half apple a day, so it’s not that big of a change.”
Despite the fact that eating a large breakfast and a light dinner did not increase calorie burn, a study published in the same journal last month found that it did. However, Peterson noted that the two studies looked at different outcomes.
“When you eat late in the day, your body processes calories differently. According to Peterson, skipping breakfast tipped the scales in favour of weight gain and fat gain. He continued, “From this study, we can get pretty clear recommendations that people shouldn’t skip breakfast.
But before he feels confident making any recommendations, according to Scheer, more research is required.
A 10-hour eating window may lower the risk of developing heart disease.
In the second investigation, 137 firefighters from San Diego, California, adopted a 12-week Mediterranean diet full of fruit, vegetables, fish, and olive oil. 70 firefighters consumed their meals within a 10-hour window, while the remainder typically ate over a 13-hour period.
To help researchers monitor the firefighters’ blood sugar levels, they used wearable technology and an app to record their meals. The majority of those who took part in the 10-hour group ate between the hours of 8am and 6pm or 9am and 7pm (although they occasionally strayed outside the window, extending to an 11- or 12-hour period).
Time-restricted eating among healthy firefighters demonstrated “positive effects that should translate into less built-up plaque in the arteries and less cardiovascular disease,” according to Peterson. Additionally, the firefighters in that group noted an improvement in their quality of life.
Time-restricted eating reduced blood pressure and blood sugar levels in firefighters who already had heart disease risk factors.
This is the first study to really test this on a large scale in people who work shifts, according to Peterson. “There have been lots of hints that time-restricted eating improves blood sugar control and blood pressure,” he said. In the past, studies on animals have demonstrated that during fasting, “organs get some rest from digesting food so they can divert their energy towards repairing cells,” according to Panda.
According to Panda, a fasting period appears to facilitate the breakdown of toxins that have accumulated. Peterson also added that fasting allows the body to eliminate sodium, which lowers blood pressure.
She remarked that she wouldn’t be shocked if, in the next five to ten years, we eventually see national recommendations regarding eating windows or meal times.
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