Does timing matter (a.k.a. Intermittent Fasting)?

Posted: Jan 24 in Nutrition, Weight loss by
clock 8:24 PM to illustrate intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting has become a very popular dietary strategy for weight loss, popularized by Jason Fung’s book, “Obesity Code.” A new study out of John’s Hopkins looks at whether timing really matters when it comes to losing weight and keeping it off.

Intermittent Fasting

What is intermittent fasting? Also called time-restricted eating, it is a strategy in which people eat only during certain times of the day. For example, people may do a 16 hour fasting interval from 7 PM until 11 AM, and confine their eating in between 11 AM and 7 PM. I have read countless studies on intermittent fasting – some show a small benefit, some don’t.

Does intermittent fasting work?

In this study published in the journal of the American Heart Association, 547 people were followed over a period of 6 years. The study showed no association between the time of day people eat and the amount of weight that they lost.

Instead, smaller meals were associated with weight loss, regardless of when they were eaten.

Take-home message

What can we learn from this? Again, everybody has a different strategy that works best for them. If intermittent fasting is effective for you – great! But we need to pay closer attention to the quality of our diet than the timing of when we eat it.

Find a timing strategy that works best for you to get high quality nutritious foods, and to control the quantity. If you feel better eating breakfast, by all means, eat breakfast – but focus on getting a high-quality breakfast that includes protein, fiber and healthy fat, not an all-American breakfast of cereal, toast and orange juice. And if you feel better not eating breakfast, that’s fine too! (In other news, a study looking at whether or not we need to eat breakfast found that people skipped breakfast actually lost more weight than people who ate breakfast. A limitation of this study was that typical breakfast is unhealthy – again, dietary quality is more important than timing, and quantity matters too!)

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