In a recent study, researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham found that restricting your eating schedule to a shorter timeframe can improve your metabolism.
Study participants were split into two groups.
One group was only allowed to eat between 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., while the other group stuck to a more typical schedule, eating from 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
The group that restricted their eating to a shorter window of time experienced some interesting benefits…
Like better metabolic flexibility, which means their body had a better ability to switch between burning carbohydrates and burning fat.
Metabolic flexibility is important because it helps your body switch between these different fuel sources based on what’s readily available. When your body is doing this efficiently, it helps your health in a lot of ways…
It helps your body control its blood sugar by burning glucose instead of fat when you eat something that’s high in carbs.
It helps you burn fat instead of storing it when you eat something that’s high in fat.
It also keeps you energetic and prevents you from becoming hungry at awkward times (like in the middle of the night) because your body is able to use the fuel you’ve already given it.
Improved metabolic flexibility is probably the reason participants on an early eating schedule also had fewer hunger swings throughout the day. Researchers found that even though study participants in both groups ate the exact same number of calories, people who ate their calories in the first half of the day were less hungry overall. They weren’t even hungry when their typical dinner time rolled around in the evening.
It seems strange that eating early could make that big of a difference in your metabolism and your hunger, but according to the study’s lead researcher Courtney Peterson it all comes down to your body’s circadian clock. Your circadian clock controls your metabolism, and it tends to operate most efficiently during the day.
So maybe eating dinner by 2 p.m. isn’t sounding so bad after all. You can try a modified meal schedule where you eat breakfast at 8 a.m., lunch at 11 a.m. and dinner at 2 p.m. to see how you fare.