Here’s why it’s good to close your kitchen for most of the day for weight loss: ScienceAlert

Limiting the hours you can allow yourself to eat shows promise as a weight loss strategy, but is it the reduction in overall food intake that causes weight loss or the impact of daily fasting periods?

According to a new study that compared time-restricted eating (TRE) with a habitual eating pattern (or UEP), it’s the drop in calories that makes the biggest difference. The findings could help future approaches tackle a growing obesity problem worldwide.

A team of researchers led by Johns Hopkins University in the US enrolled 41 adult participants with obesity and prediabetes or diet-controlled diabetes. The volunteers were then placed into a TRE or a UEP group, with each person assigned isocaloric (calorie-matched) diets.

Regardless of which group they were in, significant weight losses occurred; the TRE group loses averaged 2.3 kilograms (5.1 pounds) after consuming most calories before 1 p.m., and the UEP group lost an average of 2.6 kilograms (5.7 pounds) after consuming most calories in the evening.

“In the setting of isocaloric eating, TRE did not reduce weight or improve glucose homeostasis compared to a UEP, suggesting that any effects of TRE on weight in previous studies may be due to a reduction in caloric intake,” the researchers write in their published article. .

Other markers – including glucose levels, waist circumference, blood pressure and lipid levels – were similar in both groups. Again, this suggests that the time of day eating does not matter much.

For the purposes of this study, the TRE group was only allowed to eat between 8am and 6pm – a ten-hour window (although some TRE diets cut this down to just four hours). By comparison, the UEP group could eat between 8 a.m. and midnight, giving them an extra six hours to digest the same prescribed calories.

“Our results indicate that when food intake is matched across groups and calories are held constant, TRE, as operationalized in our study, does not promote weight loss,” the researchers write.

Although the study’s sample size is relatively small and participants were only followed for twelve weeks, the findings support effective methods for losing excess weight. Additionally, sticking to specific time windows may not directly contribute to weight loss on its own, but it can help control the most important factor here: a reduction in daily calories.

Many of us will likely find it easier to monitor the times we eat, rather than counting calories or planning specific meals, and that’s something healthcare professionals may recommend to people who have problems with their weight.

In an accompanying editorial, nutrition scientist Krista Varady of the University of Illinois Chicago and epidemiologist Vanessa Oddo, who were not involved in the study, write that the study shows that “TRE is effective for weight loss simply because it helps people eat less .”

“While TRE is not more effective than other dietary interventions for weight reduction, it offers patients a simplified approach to treating obesity by eliminating the need for calorie counting.”

The research has been published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.