Changing the Time You Eat Can Improve Fat-Burning, Study Suggests

If you’re trying intermittent fasting for weight loss, we’ve got some exciting news for you. Researchers found that meal timing strategies like this can not only help you shed pounds but also improve your fat burning. The best part? Scientists are finally able to say why this method works so well.

A July 2019 study published in Obesity found that timing meals can help people lose weight by lowering their appetites rather than burning more calories. Researchers recruited 11 overweight participants who tried two different meal timing strategies in a random order. One strategy involved fasting for 12 hours per day, and the other required 18 hours of fasting and for dinner to be eaten in the afternoon. Participants followed their assigned schedules for four days in a row. Then, the scientists measured how many calories, carbs, fat, and protein were burned throughout the process. Researchers also measured the participants’ hunger hormones and appetite levels.

As it turned out, the 18-hour fast didn’t significantly affect how many calories the participants burned. But results did show that this form of intermittent fasting lowered levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin and also improved some crucial aspects of appetite. This strategy also helped improve people’s ability to switch between burning carbs for energy to burning fat for energy, aka metabolic flexibility. Ultimately, researchers said making this change can help people not only increase fat-burning over a period of 24 hours but also improve overall metabolic health.

“We suspect that a majority of people may find meal timing strategies helpful for losing weight or to maintain their weight since these strategies naturally appear to curb appetite, which may help people eat less,” said lead author Courtney M. Peterson, PhD, in a press release.

Who knew that making such a simple change could make such a huge difference?

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