Australian researchers report that restricting yourself to eating within a 12-hour window can help you avoid obesity. In an article on Health Medicine Network, the researchers show the results of a mice model where animals on a high-fat diet gained less weight when they were only allowed to eat during half the day.
Mice are nocturnal animals. However, the study shows that it does not matter if they ate during their normal active period of night or during the day, when they are normally asleep.
So long as they only have access to food for half the day, the mice would not gain as much weight despite their fatty diet. In comparison, rodents that eat the same amount of calories over an entire day are noticeably heavier.
“Time-restricted feeding did not affect weight gain in the standard laboratory diet mice but decreased weight gain in the high-fat diet mice – irrespective of the time-restricted diet period,” remarks Amanda Page, a University of Adelaide professor who served as the study’s author.
As applied to humans, that means no midnight snacks nor early breakfasts. Different studies have found that 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. is the best time for humans to eat.
Eating outside that time period only fuels obesity. That is because eating a meal within those 12 hours moderates the signals that affect our appetite. (Related: The 7 ages of appetite: Understand these phases to eat better and prevent obesity.)
The human body naturally tries to keep itself filled
Professor Page and her researchers believe the mice with restricted feeding times have more sensitive vagus nerves. These nerves inform the brain about how filling a meal is.
Vagus nerves can be found within the stomach wall. Once you finish eating, these nerves let the central nervous system know if you need a second serving.
Other studies have shown that the vagus nerves of obese people are much less sensitive than normal. Their stomachs therefore need to be filled with far more food before they finally feel satisfied. Experts have suggested targeting these nerves as a possible therapy for obesity.
On a similar vein, a February 2017 study offered an explanation for the constant failure of diets. The study found that slimmers feel hungrier and want to eat more food for up to two years after shedding their extra pounds.
Researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology believe this urge to eat more food was originally an evolutionary adaptation for surviving famine.
Load up on bread and pasta during dinner to avoid gaining weight
Obesity is a major concern across the world. Unhealthy weight makes people more vulnerable to ailments like heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, and cancer.
To reduce this risk, Dr. Michael Mosley suggests avoiding toast in the morning. Instead, people should eat bread and pasta in the evening.
He conducted an experiment with the help of the University of Surrey (Surrey). The participants were healthy people who agreed to consume most of their carbohydrates either during the morning or the evening.
During the first five days of the experiment, the volunteers ate their bread, pasta, and vegetables. The next five days saw them consume a standard diet. They switched to a low-carb breakfast and a high-carb dinner during the final five days.
Mosley and the Surrey researchers analyze the blood sugar levels of the participants during the 15-day trial. They found that carb-loading at night resulted in reduced blood sugar spikes compared to doing so during breakfast.
This assumes that the rest of the food consumed during the day does not contain excessive starch. Mosley therefore reminds interested dieters to restrain themselves.