A STUDY has suggested the best but unusual time to eat dinner to lose weight.

If you’re struggling to shift the pounds, it may be worth looking over your meal times.


Dinner time looked a lot less familiar in this studyCredit: Getty – Contributor

The research found that people who followed a strict meal time plan lost 2.3kg (5lbs) compared with other participants over 14 weeks. 

They also experienced a reduction in blood pressure and were more likely to have improved mood.

However, there is a catch – the participants ate their dinner before 3pm.

The study by University of Alabama at Birmingham was investigating time restricted eating, which also goes by the term intermittent fasting.

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Several studies have looked at whether this form of eating can help boost weight loss with mixed results. 

It requires a person to eat in a smaller window of the day, usually eight hours, and fasting for the rest; for example, eating the first meal of the day at noon and dinner by 8pm.

But the researchers looked specifically at shifting the eating window as early as possible, between 7am and 3pm.

They said the body and metabolism is better primed to deal with food earlier in the day than later, which could further boost fat burning. 

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Some 90 obese adults were recruited, of which half followed intermitttent fasting for six days a week for 14 weeks.

Both groups followed a healthy eating diet and did 150 minutes of exercise per week.

People in the fasting group lost almost a stone (14lbs), while those in the control group los 9lbs. 

“The effects were equivalent to reducing calorie intake by an additional 214 calories per day,” the scientists wrote in their paper, published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Dr Mir Ali, a bariatric surgeon and medical director of MemorialCare Surgical Weight Loss Center, California, told Healthline: “What was interesting about this study is the timing of the restriction. 

“Earlier restriction seems to have a greater benefit. This would make sense as insulin levels can remain lower for a longer period of time and thereby increase calorie burning.

“Anyone trying to lose weight may benefit from intermittent fasting or time-restricted eating. 

“The downsides to this way of eating are that a person may feel hungrier during the period where eating is not allowed and may have difficulty adhering to the plan.”

Although the researchers believe that an earlier eating window is more beneficial, they said it may not be suitable for everyone.

Dr Dana Hunnes, a senior clinical dietitian at the University of California Los Angeles Medical Center, said: “For individuals who don’t like to go to bed feeling ‘hungry’, this can be a difficult way of eating. 

“Alternatively; for some individuals, beginning to eat later in the day, shifting the time restriction for example to noon to 8pm works better than 7am to 3pm.”

Experts not involved in the study said it is not clear if the weight loss achieved is long-lasting.

Dr Simon Steenson, Nutrition Scientist, British Nutrition Foundation, said: “While this study adds to the current evidence base, it remains difficult to say with any certainty if time-restricted feeding is a superior approach to weight loss than eating fewer calories throughout the day.  

“However, for individuals who may find that this pattern of eating fits better with their lifestyle and preferences, time-restricted feeding is one option for reducing overall calorie intake that might be a suitable approach for some.  

“Ultimately, it is about finding the best approach to moderate calorie intake that works for each person, as successful and sustained weight loss is about ensuring the diet is feasible to follow in the long-term.”

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