So here's a newsflash: Skipping dinner helps you lose weight. The study that just came out with this earth-shattering revelation has another suggestion to make: Eat your last meal of the day before 2pm. You can call it an early (very early) dinner, or you can make up another word for the meal if you want. But if you stop eating at 2pm every day, you'll enjoy healthier metabolism, lower weight, and better living.
The news comes out of study results announced at the Obesity Society Annual Meeting at ObesityWeek 2016 in New Orleans, and the findings revealed that a much earlier dinner, or no dinner at all, can help reduce hunger spikes and change how we burn fat and carbohydrates, leading to weight loss.
The study followed 11 overweight men and women for four days during which they ate only between 8AM and 2PM, and four days when they ate between 8AM and 8PM. Everyone in the study tried both eating schedules and ate the same number of calories both times. The result: The subjects who stopped eating earlier burned more fat at night. “The researchers found that the earlier feeding time did not affect how many calories participants burned, but it did reduce hunger swings and increase fat-burning during several hours at night," as Alix Turoff, MS, RD of Top Balance Nutrition in New York City, explains to The Feast. "It also seemed to improve 'metabolic flexibility, which is the body's ability to switch between carb-burning and fat-burning mode.”
Does this mean anyone hoping to shed some pounds should confine their eating to a punishingly small six-hour window? “In theory, if we only had six hours of the day to eat, we might take in less calories overall, but that could also lead to binge-eating behavior, trying to get in the most calories in smaller periods of time,” adds Turoff.
Right, so we're off the hook? Because we kind of like having a social life, and not eating after 2PM will most definitely kill it. “For the few extra calories of fat burned at night, it doesn't seem like the social and emotional repercussions of this restrictive style of eating would be worth it," Turoff adds. "Though, I think we have to wait to see some more research come out on this. There have been studies done on the hormonal changes that take place with intermittent fasting (a style of eating that restricts eating to a certain time period, similar to what was done in this study), and it has been shown in some limited studies to change hunger cues,” she notes.
Until further notice, we'll be eating dinner. After 2PM. Sure, we might occasionally listen to another recent study that suggests capping off the feeding frenzy at 7PM, but even that's a stretch—enough to make us want to opt for stretchy waistbands instead.
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