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IPFS News Link • Health and Physical Fitness

For weight loss, how much you eat is more important than when you eat

•, 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.

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