A new study of intermittent fasting at Britain's University of Surrey shows that if you're trying to lose weight, when you eat may be just as important as what you eat, according to a scientific paper published on Thursday in The Journal of Nutritional Science, a study that though involving a small number of subjects, provided "invaluable insight into how slight alterations to our meal times can have benefits to our bodies," according to its main author.
The 10-week study divided its 13 participants into two groups. In one group, the participants ate breakfast and dinner meals at their usual times, according to a summary of the study by Science Daily. But the other group was required to consume breakfast 90 minutes later than normal — and to eat their dinner meals 90 minutes earlier than they usually would.
This type of "time restricted feeding" — a form of intermittent fasting — resulted in the participants who ate meals at the new times losing more than twice as much body fat at those who continued to dine on breakfast and dinner at their usual hours, according to The Mirror newspaper. The participants in both groups were permitted to eat whatever they wished for the two meals over the three-plus month duration of the study, with no requirements that they follow a strict diet.
Taken together with a study also published Thursday in the journal Cell Metabolism and reported by The Inquisitr, showing that lab mice whose feeding was restricted to a 10-hour window were less likely to become obese and fall victim to metabolic diseases such as diabetes, the University of Surrey study adds more new evidence that intermittent fasting could be an effective approach to weight loss — as well as overall health.
"Reduction in body fat lessens our chances of developing obesity and related diseases, so is vital in improving our overall health," said lead author Jonathan Johnston of the University of Surrey, as quoted by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Johnston and his colleagues also followed their initial study with a survey, asking participants whether they felt they could continue with the altered-meal-time program on their own. But more than half, 57 percent, said they could not continue eating the late breakfasts and early dinners, due mainly to the requirements of their family and social lives, according to Science Daily.
"As we have seen with these participants, fasting diets are difficult to follow and may not always be compatible with family and social life," Johnston said. "We therefore need to make sure they are flexible and conducive to real life, as the potential benefits of such diets are clear to see."