Struggling to cut down your body fat? Eating breakfast late, but having an early dinner may help, suggests a pilot study.
The findings showed that people who delayed their breakfast by 90 minutes and had their dinner 90 minutes earlier than usual lost more than twice as much body fat on average.
Further, those who changed their meal times ate less food overall, than those who did not, the researchers said.
“Although this study is small, it has provided us with invaluable insight into how slight alterations to our meal times can have benefits to our bodies,” said Jonathan Johnston, from the UK’s University of Surrey.
“Reduction in body fat lessens our chances of developing obesity and related diseases, so is vital in improving our overall health,” he added.
For the study, published in the Journal of Nutritional Sciences, the team conducted a 10-week experiment on ‘time-restricted feeding’ — a form of intermittent fasting.
Participants were split into two groups – those who were required to delay their breakfast by 90 minutes and have their dinner 90 minutes earlier, and those who ate meals as they would normally (the controls).
Although there was no restriction on what the participants could eat, the team found that 57 per cent of participants showed a reduction in food intake either due to a reduced appetite, decreased eating opportunities or a cutback in snacking, particularly in the evenings.
However, 57 per cent of participants felt they could not have maintained the new meal times beyond the prescribed 10 weeks because of their incompatibility with family and social life.
“Fasting diets are difficult to follow and may not always be compatible with family and social life. We therefore need to make sure they are flexible and conducive to real life, as the potential benefits of such diets are clear to see,” Johnston noted.