According to a new study, researchers conducted that eating early in the daytime and fasting for the rest of the day improves blood sugar control, blood pressure, and oxidative stress, even when people don't change what they eat.
They know intermittent fasting improves metabolism and health. However, we didn't know whether these effects are simply because people ate less and lost weight. Researchers decided to conduct the first highly controlled study to determine whether the benefits of intermittent fasting are due solely to eating less. The study was also the first to test a form of intermittent fasting called early time-restricted feeding (eTRF) in humans.
A typical American meal times for five weeks each. On the eTRF schedule, the men each started breakfast between 6:30-8:30 each morning, finished eating six hours later, and then fasted for the rest of the day about 18 hours. Everyone finished dinner no later than 3 p.m. By contrast, on the typical American schedule, they ate their meals spread across a 12-hour period.
The men ate the exact same foods on each schedule, and the researchers carefully monitored the men to make sure they ate at the correct times and ate only the food that the researchers gave them. Study research is important because it shows for the first time in humans that the benefits of intermittent fasting are not due solely to eating less; practicing intermittent fasting has intrinsic benefits regardless of what you eat.
Also, it shows that eating early in the day may be a particularly beneficial form of intermittent fasting. Peterson hopes the research will also raise awareness of the role of the body's internal biological clock called the circadian system in health.
The data also indicate that our feeding regimen has to be synchronized with the circadian rhythm and our biological clock.
"If you eat late at night, it's bad for your metabolism," Peterson said. "Our bodies are optimized to do certain things at certain times of the day, and eating in sync with our circadian rhythms seem to improve our health in multiple ways. For instance, our body's ability to keep our blood sugar under control is better in the morning than it is in the afternoon and evening, so it makes sense to eat most of our food in the morning and early afternoon."
These findings could lead to better ways to help prevent Type 2 diabetes and hypertension. In light of these promising results, Peterson says more research is needed on intermittent fasting and meal timing to find out how they affect health and to figure out what types of approaches are achievable for most people.