“Early to bed and Early to Rise Makes Jack Healthy, Wealthy & Wise”-We are living in a world in which many individuals haven’t even heard of such a proverb let alone have been following it! Blessed with a beautiful life our body functions tirelessly for our well-being and our circadian clock was tuned to follow a schedule exactly like the one mentioned in the proverb. Alas, we have turned it all upside down, ignored our body cues for decades together, taken advantage of the blessing showered on us and finally, ruined a healthy abode into one that suffers and toils to regain its health and wellness. Sleep schedules have gone miserable with the advent of shift jobs and web series taking priority over regular sleeping hours such that normal bed timings have been pushed to 11 PM, 12 AM or even 1 AM in the night; Eating schedules have taken a U-turn where most skip breakfast due to late sleeping hours or eat a heavy dinner in the name of partying. Junk foods and multi-cuisine restaurants attract individuals with their array of menu options; Sedentary behavior has taken front seat pushing behind an active lifestyle thereby leading to rise in obesity/overweight. We now live in a world that’s dominated by weight-related problems and seek shortcut solutions such as skipping meals altogether, starving or eliminating foods groups such as fats and carbohydrates to lose weight rather than pursuing a healthy lifestyle.
Our forefathers ate their dinner soon after sunset but we have ruined it all! A large number of people have started practicing intermittent fasting (individuals fast for 12 hours or more before eating food), going for detox diets and living on fruits and vegetables as a means to cleanse their body. Fasting was practiced by our earlier generations too as a token of respect to the higher power on spiritual and religious grounds. Fad diets that believe in eliminating food groups or consuming minimal calories don’t stay long but intermittent fasting has been appreciated and pursued by many people as a strong way to lose body weight. This brings in the question of whether meal timings do affect our weight ranges. If you see clearly, early time-restricted feeding is a type of intermittent fasting during which people eat all their meals during early morning and afternoon hours right before going for a fast for the rest of the day. A new study in the Obesity journal has come up with the fact that the time of the meal has a great impact on the metabolism helping to curb hunger and promote fat burning.
Until now, we did know that intermittent fasting and eating meals earlier can help with weight loss but we did not know why they did seem to help. But the study discussed here looks into the different ways by which weight loss could be achieved-burning more calories, lowering appetite or both.
The study involved 11 individuals who were healthy but overweight with a BMI of 25-35. Both men and women between the ages of 25 and 45 were involved in the study. The research team split the individuals into two groups where both the groups ate the same three meals per day for 4 days but at different timings-early time-restricted feeding (eTRF) schedule (6 participants) and control schedule (5 participants). Individuals in the eTRF group ate their first meal at 8.00 A.M. and their last meal at 2.00 P.M. Individuals in the control group had their first meal at 8.00 A.M but their last meal at 8.00 P.M. So, while eTRF group participants fasted for 18 hours before eating their next meal those in the control group fasted for 12 hours. After four days participants were tested for hunger hormone levels. While both groups did not show significant difference in the number of calories they burned it was seen that individuals in the eTRF group had lower levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin and reduced appetite comparatively. eTRF group also had increased fat burning capability for which the research team justified that eating meals earlier prompted the body to switch from burning carbohydrates for energy to burning fat for the same energy.
While this might be good news for some, this kind of eating schedule cannot and should not be followed by all. For instance, people with diabetes must eat small meals frequently, pregnant women cannot go for a long time without eating something and patients with certain other medical conditions cannot survive on an intermittent fasting schedule. Socially too, intermittent fasting prevents individuals from eating together with their families/friends and there are some who try to eat as much as possible during the eating window which might lead to weight gain in some. In such cases, the best way is to eat small meals frequently.
Fasting for longer hours might not be possible in the case of majority of people. Practically, it is possible to move your mealtimes during early hours such as eating your breakfast around 7.30 AM, lunch around 12.30-1 PM and dinner around 7-7.30 PM for maximized benefits. But changing your eating schedules alone is not sufficient and one must rely upon exercise and an active lifestyle to lose weight. For practical and scientific guidance on what to eat, when to eat and how much to eat it is better to get in touch with reputed dieticians and nutritionists at www.firsteatright.com who can guide you through your weight loss journey.
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