For weight loss, how much you eat is more important than when you eat• https://newatlas.com, By Rich Haridy
The study challenges the popular trend of intermittent fasting as a useful weight loss strategy.
Intermittent fasting, also referred to as time-restricted feeding, is a dietary strategy where all meals are consumed during a short window of time each day. These windows can span anywhere from six to 10 hours, resulting in a person essentially fasting for up to 18 hours each day.
From a weight-loss perspective, there has been plenty of debate over whether intermittent fasting techniques are effective because they trigger genuine metabolic changes or whether they simply make it easier for a person to just eat less food. A study published last year, for example, found similar weight loss outcomes between time-restricted feeders and all-day eaters when both groups were given the same calorie-controlled dietary limits. Another earlier intermittent fasting study with no dietary directions saw participants who were limited to eating only during an eight-hour period each day instinctively reduce their caloric intake by around 300 calories a day.
This new study took a different approach at investigating the subject. Instead of directing the nearly 550 participants to follow a specific pattern of eating, the researchers simply tracked daily meal times and sizes, and correlated them with weight loss patterns over a six-year period.
Each participant in the study used a smartphone app to record sleep, wake and meal times across several week-long stretches. This enabled the researchers to track the time from first to last meal for each subject, as well as time from wake-up to first meal and time from last meal to sleep.
The findings revealed there was no link between the time of a person's eating window each day and weight changes over the six-year follow-up. So it didn't make much of a difference to weight loss if a person ate all their meals each day across a shorter window versus a longer window.