Time-restricted feeding study shows promise in helping people shed body fat

January 10, 2017 by Adam Pope, University of Alabama at Birmingham
Credit: University of Alabama at Birmingham

University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers are trying to find out whether changing a person's eating schedule can help them lose weight and burn fat.

The first human test of early time-restricted feeding, or eTRF, found that this meal-timing strategy reduced swings in hunger and altered fat and carbohydrate burning patterns, which may help with losing weight. With eTRF, people eat their last meal by the mid-afternoon and do not eat again until breakfast the next morning. The findings were unveiled during a presentation at The Obesity Society Annual Meeting at Obesity Week 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

"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."

This new research, funded by a TOS Early Career Research Grant awarded in 2014, suggests that eating a very early dinner, or even skipping dinner, may have some benefits for losing weight, although further studies need to take place to confirm that theory. Previous animal studies showed that eTRF helped rodents burn more fat.

The human body has an internal clock, and many aspects of metabolism are at their optimal functioning in the morning. Therefore, eating in alignment with the body's circadian clock by eating earlier in the day may positively influence health. This first test of eTRF in humans follows rodent studies of this approach to weight loss, which previously found that eTRF reduced body fat and decreased the risk of chronic diseases in rodents.

During the human study, Peterson and her colleagues followed 11 men and women with excess weight over four days of eating between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m., and four days of eating between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Researchers then tested the impact of eTRF on calories burned, fat burned and appetite. Participants tried both eating schedules, ate the same number of calories both times and completed all testing under supervision.

Researchers found that, although eTRF did not affect how many total calories participants burned, it reduced daily hunger swings and increased during several hours at night. It also improved metabolic flexibility, which is the body's ability to switch between burning carbs and burning fats.

Whether eTRF helps with long-term or improves other aspects of health is still unknown. Peterson says that, because the human study involved only a small number of participants, a larger, more comprehensive study will need to take place.

Explore further: Skip dinner and maybe boost your metabolism

Related Stories

Skip dinner and maybe boost your metabolism

November 3, 2016
(HealthDay)—Overweight people who eat during a much smaller window of time each day than is typical report fewer hunger swings and burn slightly more fat at certain times during the night, according to a new study.

The weight loss plateau: What it means and how you can get past it

October 26, 2016
You've been exercising daily. You've improved your diet. And you've seen the number on the scale decrease. Not only do you look better, you feel better, too. However, you reach a point where you no longer are seeing results, ...

Eating little and often not as important as counting calories for weight loss

March 27, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—Eating small but frequent meals is often recommended for overweight adults trying to lose weight. However, research presented today at the Society for Endocrinology annual BES conference suggests that following ...

Is 'when we eat' as important as 'what we eat'?

June 21, 2016
In a review of research on the effect of meal patterns on health, the few studies available suggest that eating irregularly is linked to a higher risk of metabolic syndrome (high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and obesity). ...

Study with diabetes drug measures how extra calories caused weight loss plateau

October 17, 2016
Analysis of a trial that used the drug canagliflozin found that as people lost weight, their appetite increased proportionately, leading to consumption of more calories and weight loss plateau (leveling off). The findings ...

Overweight very young children consume larger meals, say data from UK survey

June 3, 2016
Data from a large UK survey on the eating habits of very young children (aged 4-18 months) show that overweight children consume larger meals, but do not eat more frequently, than healthy weight children. This study of the ...

Recommended for you

Instead of nagging your spouse to lose weight, try going on a diet yourself

February 22, 2018
Tired of nagging your spouse to lose a few pounds? You might get better results by going on a diet yourself.

PFASs, chemicals commonly found in environment, may interfere with body weight regulation

February 13, 2018
A class of chemicals used in many industrial and consumer products was linked with greater weight gain after dieting, particularly among women, according to a study led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The chemicals—perfluoroalkyl ...

Study shows benefits of exercise can outweigh health effects of severe obesity

February 12, 2018
Can you be fit and healthy even if you're overweight? That's the question researchers at York University's Faculty of Health set out to answer in a new study that shows physical activity may be equally and perhaps even more ...

Obesity drives US health care costs up by 29 percent, varies by state

February 7, 2018
The prevalence of obesity has risen dramatically in the U.S., but there has been little information about the economic impact of this trend for individual states.

Why diets backfire: A year or more after weight loss, the desire to eat grows stronger

February 2, 2018
Losing weight is, for most people, the easy part. The bigger challenge is trying to keep it off for more than a year.

Scientists identify weight loss ripple effect

February 1, 2018
People who make an effort to lose weight aren't just helping themselves, they may be helping others too.

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

betterexists
not rated yet Jan 10, 2017
Always More Said than Done. Food in hand, but not into the mouth phenomenon. We hear of Nano-Diamond Crystals - Stronger than Diamond, Graphene... Stronger than Steel, AI etc., But, still People use Hammers To crack coconuts held in hands. Just Roll a coconut near a Robot/ Not near Echo or Baidu's Little Fish. It should grasp it in 1 hand and smash it against its other hand under cover, of course!
checksinthemail
not rated yet Jan 10, 2017
A larger informal study has already been taking place for a thousand-plus years, as this is a dietary restriction followed by some Taoist/Zen monks/hermits (slightly different in they would say no food after noon)

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.