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  • Eleven participants between the ages of 20 and 45 years old, participated in the project. All, although healthy, had weight concerns.

    Eleven participants between the ages of 20 and 45 years old, participated in the project. All, although healthy, had weight concerns. | Photo: Reuters

Published 1 August 2019

The research study stands out as the first to demonstrate the affects of 24-hour energy metabolism when met with consistent and frequent food intake.

Intermittent fasting or early meal times can help lose weight, researchers gathered, saying that incorporating these habits will lower appetite and could be an alternative to calorie-burning workout routines.

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Published in the journal, Obesity, the research study stands out as the first to demonstrate the affects of 24-hour energy metabolism when met with consistent and frequent food intake.

"Coordinating meals with circadian rhythms, or your body's internal clock, may be a powerful strategy for reducing appetite and improving metabolic health,” said one author of the avante study, Eric Ravussin, Ph.D., and Associate Executive Director for Clinical Science at Louisiana State University's Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge.

Eleven participants, between the ages of 20 and 45 years old, participated in the project. All, although healthy, did have weight concerns. Each had a body mass index between 25 and 35kg and weighed somewhere from 68 to 100kg. To qualify, female subjects were required to have a regular menstrual cycles in order to stabilize the study. All participants were required to observe a strict bedtime schedule of 12 hours and fast for 18 hours per day.

This routine was followed for four days before participants were asked to enter a respiratory chamber where researchers calculated how many calories, carbohydrates, fat and protein were burned. Appetite levels and hunger hormones were also measured throughout the day.

Courtney M. Peterson, PhD, lead author and an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition Sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham said, "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.”

Researchers also tested the affectiveness of Early Time-Restricted Feeding (eTRF) — the practice of eating the day’s largest meal in the afternoon. 

“We were able to kill two birds with one stone," said Peterson, who reported that eTRF did lower levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin and increased fat burning over the day, although how many calories burned was varied.

An admirer of the study, Hollie Raynor, Ph.D., RD, LDN, said, "This study helps provide more information about how patterns of eating, and not just what you eat, may be important for achieving a healthy weight."

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