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Nov 14, 2016 12:05 PM EST

Weight Loss Wonder: Having Dinner Early Helps Burn More Fat According to a Louisiana University Study

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The preliminary results of this study conducted Louisiana State University's (LSU) Pennington Biomedical Research Center were presented last week in the Obesity Society's annual meeting. This is the first human trial of early time-restricted feeding and researchers found that apart from lessening an individual's hunger swing it also improved metabolic flexibility throughout the day.

The eating plan has shown promise on animals. Mice who followed a time-restricted feeding tend to lose more body fats and have lesser risk of contracting chronic diseases compared to those whose eating schedules were farther spaced out.

This lead researchers to believe that following this schedule can benefit people as well since human metabolism and our internal clock works most in the morning.

Before you get too excited, the schedule suggested for time-restricted feeding is between 8:00 am to 2:00 pm. This means eating all your meals of the day within this 6-hour period. While the results of the study is yet to be published, it showed much promise in reducing hunger and cravings and in the process burn more body fat.

The research had 11 participants: men and women between the ages 20 to 45 years old, all of whom are overweight. The study had 2 parts, the first followed a time-restricted feeding schedule, from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and the second followed a typical meal schedule between 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Both parts were observed for 4 days.

During the last day of each part, researchers did a 24-hour metabolic testing on all of the participants and asked about their hunger.

While following the time-restricted diet did not affect the amount of calories the participants burned, it showed that they felt less hungry and it increased the amount of fat the participants burned at night. It also improved their metabolic flexibility - which refers to the body's ability to switch from burning carbohydrates to burning stored fats instead to fuel the human activities. 

Though these findings do not immediately establish any facts about using time-restricted feeding to help with weight loss or improving other aspects of our health, researchers are considering it's a possibility.

Prof. Dale Schoeller, PhD, professor emeritus in the University of Wisconsin's Department of Nutritional Sciences acknowledges, based on the findings, that meal timing does have an impact on metabolism. Prof. Schoeller, who is also a spokesperson for the Obesity Society said that additional investigation is needed to determine if time-restricted feeding can help prevent and treat obesity.

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