WHAT you eat vs. WHEN you eat — the timing of eating may play role in obesity WHAT you eat vs. WHEN you eat — the timing of eating may play role in obesity – SOMETHING ABOUT SCIENCE

WHAT you eat vs. WHEN you eat — the timing of eating may play role in obesity

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Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Thinking about weight loss? The most effective way may not be all about eating less and exercising more. The timing of eating may play an important role in protecting us against (or accelerating) obesity.

Obesity is a growing global health concern, where millions of people are affected by it. (Read about obesity and diabetes here.) Excessive body weight often leads to metabolic diseases and cause serious health issues. The most common approach for the treatment and prevention for obesity is through life-style modification, involving reduction of caloric intake and increase in physical exercises. But is this all we can do?

A team of scientists wondered if obesity and subsequent metabolic diseases are due to the intake of high calories or due to the timing of food intake. To test this, they fed one group of mice in a time-restricted manner during their normal feeding time (which is at night since they are nocturnal animals), whereas another group was fed frequently throughout day and night. Although both groups were fed the same calories, after 100 days, the ones fed at restricted time had reduced obesity and improved metabolism than the ones fed throughout the day. In fact, the freely fed mice gained 70% more fat deposits than the mice on restricted feeding schedule.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

This finding is not completely new. A previous study has also shown that mice fed during the day gained more weight than the ones fed during the night. (Here is a reminder once again that mice are nocturnal animals, and night-time feeding is equivalent to our day-time meals.) Both studies, new and old, showed that feeding time alone can greatly affect the regulation of body weight. The new study additionally demonstrates that the timing of food intake can affect the body’s metabolism as well. A good metabolism will make you more energetic, help get rid of toxins from your body more efficiently, and also boost your immune system.

Findings in mice do not always translate to human bodies. Nonetheless, if you are thinking about or are already implementing some kind of weight-loss regimen, it probably wouldn’t hurt to also include restricted eating time: regular meal times with no snacks in between. Also, don’t forget that regular wake/sleep cycles are also important contributors to maintaining metabolism and good health.

Thank you for reading the post. See you next week! 🙂

References:
Time-Restricted Feeding without Reducing Caloric Intake Prevents Metabolic Diseases in Mice Fed a High-Fat Diet
Circadian Timing of Food Intake Contributes to Weight Gain

Lynn Kimlicka

I am a scientist-turned writer and editor, who loves to read and write (more than doing experiments). I have a PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology, with a specialization in structural biology. My interests range widely, from life sciences to pop culture and arts to music. I am bilingual in English and Japanese.

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