Exercising, making sure you have a balanced diet… We all know how to stay in shape. But what if we’re missing something? A recent study has just shown that the time you eat could have an impact on how much weight you gain or lose. Let’s explain.
Although WHO considers obesity a world epidemic (2.8 million people die every year because they are overweight or obese), researchers have carried out multiple studies to give them a better understanding of this scourge and allow them to tackle it more effectively.
Among regularly going for a walk, eating your food slowly or even keeping a food diary, everyone has their own solution. The latest experiment led by researchers at the University of Colorado (United States) wants to prove that the time you eat plays a role on your weight gain.
An experiment carried out with special equipment
Adnin Zaman, a professor in endocrinology at the Medical Campus at the University of Colorado wanted to carry out a study on the relationship between sleep, physical activity, eating habits and weight gain. To do this, he and his team asked 31 patients to take part, whom had an average age of 36, were overweight or obese and they gave them special equipment to do so.
Each participant was entrusted with an Actiwatch which records the amount and intensity of any activity that they did both during the day and night, both awake and asleep. Their thigh was also hooked up to a device that measures the amount of time they spent exercising or doing physical activity and the time they spent sitting still. Finally, they were asked to use MealLogger, a smartphone app to log what they eat by sending time-stamped photos of their meals. The experiment lasted 7 days.
The ‘late eaters’ had a higher BMI
The results were revealed during the ENDO2019 (the international annual meeting for the Endocrine Society), which was held this year in New Orleans (United States).
Professor Adnin Zaman and his team noted that on average, the participants ate over a period of 11 hours in the day and slept for 7 hours at night. They also noticed that those who ate later also slept later, but that they had the same amount of sleep as those that ate earlier.
However, the results showed that those who ate food later had a higher body mass index (BMI) and a higher amount of body fat than those who stopped eating earlier in the day.
‘These findings support our overall study, which will look at whether restricting the eating window to earlier on in the day will lower obesity risk,’ wrote Adnin Zaman in his report.
These results should still be taken with a pinch of salt. The experiment was carried out with a small sample of subjects and that’s why researchers are now planning a similar study with people who have a healthy weight to see if the trend can be maintained.