Are you eating your dinner at the right or wrong time?

If you’re an American citizen, chances are you eat dinner between 5 and 8pm. If you’re European or South American, you might not eat until 10 at night. But according to a new study published by The Obesity Society, eating dinner at an earlier time – or not at all – may help you burn more fat at night, and curb hunger swings, therefore assisting your weight loss.

Courtney Peterson, PhD and leader of the study at Pennington Biomedical Research Center, presented the study’s findings at The Obesity Society Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Dr. Peterson said, “Eating only during a much smaller window of time than people are typically used to may help with weight loss, specifically by increasing our body’s ability to burn fat and protein.”

“We found that eating between 8am and 2pm followed by an 18-hour daily fast burned more fat and kept appetite levels more even throughout the day, in comparison to eating between 8am and 8pm, which is average for Americans,” Dr. Peterson explained.

Most Americans are inclined to skip breakfast (the most important meal of the day, many say) as a step towards weight loss. But this new study proved that skipping dinner, or what some may consider a late lunch, is actually more effective. “Many aspects of metabolism are at their optimal functioning in the morning,” the study says.

“Therefore, eating in alignment with the body’s circadian clock by eating earlier in the day can positively influence health,” including fat metabolism. Time to whip up some pancakes, readers.


To conduct the study, Dr. Peterson and colleagues followed eleven overweight men and women over four days of eating between 8am and 2pm, and then four days of eating between 8am and 8pm. All those participating followed both eating schedules, ate the same number of calories during both schedules, and completed supervised testing.

After the eight days were up, the researchers tested the impact of early Time-Restricted Feeding on calories burned, fat burned and appetite. Researchers found that early Time-Restricted Feeding, “improved fat and protein oxidation, and daily hunger swings among other health indicators.”

Dale Schoeller, PhD, FTOS spokesperson for The Obesity Society and Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin, is excited to report that there is finally proof that eating times have a direct affect on our metabolisms. He said, “With additional research on early-time restricted feeding on humans, we can create a more complete picture of how this innovative method can best help prevent and treat obesity.”

For now, this study sheds light on how late-night snacking really can affect your overall health. But until there’s enough research to prove that eating after 2pm is a dire no-no, don’t go changing the time of your dinner reservations just yet.

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