Weight loss isn’t just about what goes in but when it goes in
While much of the research on dieting centers on the effects of certain foods, recently, an interesting area of study has been focusing on the time of day people take in the most calories. Key in such research is eating the biggest meal of the day before mid-afternoon, if not earlier.
The March 2013 issue of the medical journal The Clinical Advisor, relayed the work of Dr. Marta Garaulet, which centered on this variable. 420 dieters at various weight loss centers were studied for a period of 20 weeks; about 50% of the dieters were women. The research subjects differed from one another not by the number of calories they took in but by when they consumed their food. Those who ate earlier in the day lost considerably more weight and lost it faster than those who ate later in the day.
In the May 2016 issue of Reader’s Digest, an article titled “You Are When You Eat” by Emily Laber-Warner, addressed similar findings. Research using mice revealed that limiting intake to their active time was associated with less fat and better health. Overweight mice lost weight when they too only ate during their day time equivalent. These mice also had a decrease in their cholesterol and levels of chemicals that indicate they had less systemic (body-wide) inflammation, and was also accompanied by improvement in diabetes and fatty liver disease.
Mice are used in lab research on diseases because they aren’t as different from humans as they seem. So hopefully changing the timing of meals and snacking can bring such benefits to humans as well.
Eating frequently, it seems, causes health problems beyond a mere increase in calories. The overweight mice in the study noted above, were getting the same amount of food per day as the thinner mice. Eating too often increases the blood sugar and thus insulin levels too. Prolonged periods of hyperglycemia and hyperinsulinemia can cause harm to body cells, especially the delicate lining of arteries. Excess insulin levels stimulate cancer cell growth.
Food eaten later in the day increases the blood sugar more and leads to burning half as many calories in the process of digesting it when compared to food eaten earlier in the day. It is a rather revolutionary concept that the time of day has such a significant influence. Yet it has been long recognized that our bodies are naturally on a circadian rhythm with hormones such as cortisol being secreted early in the day and melatonin later in the day when there is less light being sensed. Is that always true that later in the day there is less light exposure? Thanks to all the artificial lighting in our world, no, that has been altered, and perhaps to our detriment.
Night time fasting for 12 to 13 hours provides “gut rest” and that alone may help with weight loss. During the 12 to 13 hours of fasting, water should be the only thing consumed. Another practice that’s part of this new weight loss tactic is eating the main meal of the day before 3 p.m. With all the restrictions and deprivations dieters have endured over the years, is this really such an impossible change? Not really, and the benefits could really be nothing short of miraculous!