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Can a Change in Eating Schedule Help People Lose Weight?

 University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers are examining whether a change in eating schedule can help people lose weight. The first human test of early time restricted feeding or ETRF, found it reduced hunger swings and altered fat and carbohydrate burning patterns, which may help with weight loss. On ETRF, people eat their last meal by mid afternoon and do not eat again until breakfast the next morning.

Eating only during a small window of time than people are typically used to may help with weight loss said Courtney Peterson Phd in the department of nutrition sciences at Uab. They found that eating between 8am and 2pm followed by an 18 hour daily fast kept appetite levels more even throughout the day, in comparison to eating between 8am and 8pm. Which is what the average person does.

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 earlier in the day may positively influence health.

During a study Peterson and her colleagues followed 11 men and women with excess weight over 4 days of eating between 8am and 2pm, and 4 days of eating between 8am and 8pm. 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 fat burning during several hours at night. It also improved metabolic flexibility which is the body’s ability to switch burning carbs and burning fats.

Whether ETRF helps with long term weight loss 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.

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