Time-restricted feeding may hold the key to greater body fat loss and reduced cravings
Previous research already suggested that changing eating patterns to include short periods of fasting might ramp up fat burning.
It is thought that body fat loss is achieved on time-restricted feeding schedules because we are eating in alignment with the body's circadian clock, which controls many genes that deal with metabolism.
Eating only during a much smaller window of time may also improve the body's ability to switch between burning carbohydrates to burning our own fat for fuel.
While this new study does not show conclusively that time-restricted feeding affects how many calories are burned, it reports that it could indeed reduce daily hunger swings.
Both light and food regulate our circadian rhythms, and many animal studies indicate that eating our last meal closer to sunset is preferable.
In the current research, scientists from the University of Alabama, who had participants eat a very early dinner and not eat again until breakfast the next morning, reported that it decreased their daily swings in hunger.
The basis for that is evidence that eating our last meal much earlier than usual, for example by 2 pm, can keep appetite levels more even compared to eating between 8 am and 8 pm.
With early time-restricted feeding, one can also end up cumulating 13 to 16 hours of fasting throughout the night, which has been proven to be beneficial for many aspects of metabolism.
When the body goes into fasting mode, it also takes a break to repair cells, and this maintenance state may be the key to reducing biomarkers for diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
Although the study involved a relatively small number of people, researchers believe that there is compelling evidence supporting the fact that alternating periods of feeding and periods of fasting often when we're sleeping - can help us shed some pounds.
And, a simple fasting tracker app, called Zero, has recently been launched to help take the guesswork out of daily fasting and eating periods. The app tells the user when he/she is supposed to stop eating according to when the sun will set in their area.