Timing is Key: The Best Time of Day to Eat for Weight Loss

Looking for the best ways to lose weight can take you to all sorts of diets and fads that just aren’t sustainable in the long term. While we all have the best intentions when it comes to starting a weight-loss journey, it isn’t always easy to commit to when real-life pressures kick in. 

The good news is that new research has found that half the battle to lose weight is all to do with the times of the day you eat. There are certain times of the day that you should be looking to get your meals in and certain times that you should avoid. If you can stick to such guidelines, then weight loss can be sustained over a long period at a safe rate. 

In a research project recently published by JAMA Internal Medicine, eating all your meals for the day over an eight-hour period between 7am-3pm brings about effective weight loss for adults who are classed as obese. These results were measured against another group of obese adults who were allowed to in a window of 12 hours. 

According to the research, the difference between the two groups was the equivalent of decreasing calorie intake by 214 calories per day. This means that by eating for an eight-hour period each day, those with obesity will be able to decrease their calorie intake by over 6000 calories per month. 

Further benefits to time-controlled dieting

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Effective weight loss wasn’t the only benefit that was discovered through the research project. Researchers also discovered that those who were part of the eight-hour eating group also benefitted from better blood pressure control and mood improvement. 

The Researchers involved in the project said: “Early time-restricted eating (eTRE) was more effective for losing weight and lowering diastolic blood pressure than eating over a period of 12 or more hours at 14 weeks. 

“The eTRE intervention may therefore be an effective treatment for both obesity and hypertension. It also improves mood by decreasing fatigue and feelings of depression-dejection and increasing vigour, and those who can stick with eTRE lose more body fat and trunk fat.”

While the reduction of calories can explain better blood pressure, the improvement of mood can be explained by dopamine, according to Dana Hunnes. Hunnes is a senior dietitian at the RR-UCLA Medical Center in California and she recently told Healthline:

“What we eat, how we eat, affects our mood for many reasons. Dopamine can be triggered from eating certain foods and the way we feel about ourselves can be affected by what we are eating. Inflammation (or anti-inflammation) from moods can affect our mood.

“The ups and downs of our blood-glucose levels can affect our mood. So, Yes, the way we at, what we eat, when we eat, like circadian rhythm, can affect our mood.”

Does the time of day for fasting matter?

For this particular study, participants were asked to fast between the hours of 7am and 3pm for six days a week for a total of 14 weeks. These times weren’t just picked at random with the science behind the research explaining why. The researchers involved said:

“We were testing a version of TRE called eTRE which involves stopping eating in the afternoon and fasting for the rest of the day. This is because key circadian rhythms in metabolism – such as insulin sensitivity and the thermic effect of food – peak in the morning. As a result, eTRE may confer additional benefits to other forms of TRE.”

While this indicates that eTRE is the “best” version of TRE, the most important thing to consider is which times suit your lifestyle best should you commit to giving this method of dieting a go. 

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