Meal timing strategies appear to lower appetite, improve fat burning

Posted on August 7, 2019

Researchers have discovered that meal timing strategies like intermittent fasting or eating earlier in the day help people lose weight by lowering appetite rather than burning more calories. This study shows how meal timing affects 24-hour energy metabolism when food intake and meal frequency are matched.

Researchers have found that by coordinating meals with circadian rhythms, or your body’s internal clock – it may be a powerful strategy to reduce appetite and improve metabolic health. This strategy may be helpful for losing or maintaining weight since these strategies naturally appear to curb appetite.

Peterson and her colleagues also report that meal timing strategies may help people burn more fat on average during a 24-hour period. Early Time-Restricted Feeding (eTRF) -- a form of daily intermittent fasting where dinner is eaten in the afternoon -- helped to improve people's ability to switch between burning carbohydrates for energy to burning fat for energy, an aspect of metabolism known as metabolic flexibility.

Participants tried two different meal timing strategies in random order: a control schedule where participants ate three meals during a 12-hour period with breakfast at 8:00 a.m. and dinner at 8:00 p.m. and an eTRF schedule where participants ate three meals over a six-hour period with breakfast at 8:00 a.m. and dinner at 2:00 p.m. The same amounts and types of foods were consumed on both schedules. Fasting periods for the control schedule included 12 hours per day, while the eTRF schedule involved fasting for 18 hours per day.

While eTRF did not significantly affect how many calories participants burned, the researchers found that eTRF did lower levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin and improved some aspects of appetite. It also increased fat-burning over the 24-hour day.

This study provides more information about how patterns of eating, and not just what you eat, may be important for achieving a healthy weight.

Source material from Science Daily

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