Researchers from the Salk Institute have found that the time frames within which we eat are much more impactful on our weight, cholesterol levels and risk for diabetes than what we are eating.
The study, published today in the journal Cell Metabolism, found that eating within an 8-12 hour time frame, as we did a century ago before the advent of processed and fast foods, helps us stay trimmer and healthier.
Salk professor and the study’s lead author, Satchidananda Panda, said:
“We found that animals fed within a window of eight to twelve hours had a number of protective and therapeutic health benefits compared with animals allowed to eat the same number of calories from the same food source at any time.”
After testing nearly 400 mice put through different time-restricted feeding schedules and fed with diets either high or low in fat and sugar, the authors of the study found that those mice who were restricted to eating only during 9-12 hour time frames stayed leaner, no matter what their diet was. Some of those mice on the 9-12 hour feeding schedules were allowed to binge freely on the weekends, and the researchers found that they stayed just as trim as those who were not, showing that this type of diet can resist interruptions.
The results of the study demonstrate that there is a circadian rhythm-type of synchronicity to our genes when it comes to consumption and expenditure of calories. One of the researchers behind the study, Amir Zarranpar, said:
“You don’t have to really calorie count. What this really works on is your own biology and letting your body use its own evolutionary metabolic pathways to shuttle energy appropriately.”
The study’s researchers plan to test time-restricted feeding schedules on humans next, which will add to the growing theory of chrono-nutrition.