Intermittent fasting early in the day boosts weight loss by 3lb more than eating later

Intermittent fasting early in the day can help you lose three pounds more than if you eat later in the afternoon, a study suggests.

Intermittent fasting is a popular dieting technique where a person can eat as much as they like, of whatever they like, within a set time frame every day.

However, there has been much debate over its effectiveness and at what time of the day a person should eat and when they should stop.

Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences recruited 90 people of normal weight and split them into an early group, a late group, and a control.

Throughout the five-week study, the early cohort was only allowed to eat between 6am and 3pm, while the late group was restricted to food between 11am and 8pm.

Data show that the 6am to 3pm group consumed 240 fewer calories every day than those not on a diet plan, and lost 3.5lb over the five weeks.

However, the 11am and 8pm group saw their calorie intake drop by just 159 calories a day compared with the control group, losing just 0.45lb.

How many calories

Those who stopped eating at 3pm saw their body fat drop by 0.6 percentage points compared with 0.22 percentage points for the evening group.

Researchers kept track of how much each person was consuming by asking participants to take a photo of everything they ate during the study. An expert would then decide how many calories a meal contained, and another academic double-checked the assessment.

Blood samples were taken at the start and end of the study, as well as body mass and percentage body fat measurements, to help the team understand how the different diet plans affected measurements such as insulin levels and gut bacteria.

The early group, but not the late group, saw “improved fasting glucose, reduced total body mass and adiposity, ameliorated inflammation and increased gut microboial diversity”, the researchers write in the study, published in Nature Communications.

Participants largely stuck to their diet plans with 96.8 per cent of the early group staying on task, while it was slightly higher (98.2 per cent) for the later group.

“Good compliance with the protocols in the present study implies that time-restricted fasting is an easy-to-execute fasting regimen, and the similar compliance with each suggests that they are similarly feasible,” the researchers write.

“Although similar changes in energy intake occurred in both groups, only the early group showed a reduction in body mass versus the control group, which was accompanied by reductions in both percentage body fat and body mass.”

They believe stopping eating earlier in the day may be more effective because the timing will disrupt the body’s natural daily rhythms in a more effective way.

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