woman eating
Timing is everything, especially when it comes to eating. This is what a group of scientists recently found in an experiment on 12-week old male mice fed a high-fat diet eight hours a day. One group were subjected to time-restricted feeding (tRF), while another ate food any time they wanted (ad lib feeding).

The scientists reported that tRF mice consumed the same amount of calories found in a high-fat diet, yet they didn't become obese. They didn't develop hyperinsulinemia (excess insulin), hepatic steatosis (fatty liver), or inflammation. They also showed better motor coordination. The tRF mice also maximized the nutrients they consumed. This in contrast with the ad lib mice, which showed higher insulin levels and were obese.

The study presents another way of fighting obesity by timing mealtimes. It showed that food intake based on the body's natural rhythm keeps weight down and prevents obesity-related disease. The scientists attributed this to the fact that mice on an ad lib diet had shorter fasting periods than those on a tRF regimen. Since the former ate whenever they wanted, their body's circadian and feeding rhythms were interrupted and obesity, along with higher insulin levels, was seen.

The tRF type of feeding, on the other hand, follows the body's internal clock. It doesn't disrupt the body's cellular metabolic system. Thus, it helped the mice stay healthy.

These findings support another study, this time from Harvard University, which showed that regardless of diet, mealtimes that clash with the body's circadian rhythm creates an 18 percent spike in blood sugar levels. This means greater amounts of the fat-storing hormone insulin are released in the body.

How do you help your body maintain its ideal weight by timing mealtimes according to the body's rhythms?

Here's a suggested meal-to-meal guide:
  • Breakfast -Data from the National Weight Control Registry show that almost 80 percent of those who lost at least 30 pounds had breakfast at the same time every day. A 2015 study revealed that a high-protein breakfast between 6 a.m. and 9:45 a.m. helped the body reduce its fat content. It also resulted in fewer hunger pangs throughout the day. On the other hand, those who took breakfast at 10 a.m. didn't show these health benefits. Dietitian Jim White, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests eating a healthy breakfast within an hour upon waking up. The longer you delay breakfast, the longer you deprive your body of the hunger-squashing effects of protein, fat, and fiber.
  • Mid-morning snack - This is not required, especially for those who had a heavy breakfast or those who don't eat until 9:45 a.m. But it helps to know that the body digests and absorbs food between two and four hours. Then, it fasts. White says sticking to that window of time between breakfast and snacks will keep energy levels up and prevent a decrease in blood sugar. So remember to take that snack only when hungry. Otherwise, extra calories could make things difficult.
  • Lunch - A 2016 study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that those who took lunch at earlier hours lost more weight. This supports another study which showed that those who took lunch at a later time lost less weight than those who took lunch breaks earlier.
  • Mid-afternoon snack - White maintains that an afternoon snack two to four hours after lunch keeps blood sugar levels stable and prevents overeating at dinner. A University of Illinois at Chicago study of overweight women revealed that those who snacked in the afternoon tended to eat more fruits and greens throughout the day compared to non-afternoon snackers.
  • Dinner - A recent study found that those who took a third of their calories between 6 p.m. and midnight quit eating between 7 p.m. and 9 a.m., they lost weight and slept better because they didn't take anything after dinner.
Too busy to follow the recommended timeline? That's fine, as long as the meals are healthy. It also helps to eat only when you're hungry, but not ravenous, and to leave the table when you're satisfied.

Read more easy tips on how to stay healthy at Detox.news.

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