When it comes to fighting obesity there are far bigger fish to fry (or should I say grill) than lots of clever little dietary manipulations. Of course the main consideration when trying to control and limit the obesity epidemic is calorie control. Whether we agree with the ‘obesity is a disease’ label or not, fact is that if you eat more calories than you can burn, you gain weight…disease or not. Granted, the application is considerably harder than the theory, but if we can educate and programme obese individuals to not see food as a comforter, or even readdress their whole mind set completely, then this has to be the way to go.
Why timing is so important
You’ve just got to ask some of the funniest comedians on the planet how important timing is, they’ll tell you VERY. According to researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, a carefully scheduled high- fat diet that is eaten on a consistent basis may lead to a reduction in bodyweight, which gives some credence to nutrient timing. There have been numerous studies on nutrient timing in the past, but the findings were mixed and largely inconclusive. They previously found that the disruption of a mammals diet rhythm or feeding high fat diets disrupt metabolism and may actually lead to obesity…which helped to direct this most recent study. Researchers decided to see if there was any correlation between a long term high- fat diet on a fixed schedule, and fat loss. Based on the findings from previous research, they theorised that careful scheduling of meals would somehow regulate the biological clock and reduce the risk of obesity that often follows a long term high- fat diet.
What they found…
Here is where it gets interesting. Researchers fed 4 groups of mice a high- fat diet with an irregular feeding schedule, a regular high- fat diet on a regular feeding schedule, an unscheduled low- fat diet and a scheduled low- fat diet. Intriguingly, the mice on the scheduled high- fat diet had a lower final bodyweight than mice consuming an unscheduled high- fat diet, which suggests that a scheduled high- fat diet is better for losing weight than a low fat unscheduled diet. However, researchers were surprised to find that the mice on the scheduled high- fat diet had a lower final bodyweight than the mice that ate an unscheduled low- fat diet. What is particularly interesting is that both groups consumed the same amount of calories, and yet something seemed to cause a greater fat burning effect in the mice consuming a scheduled high- fat diet. It seems that scheduling/ timing of nutrition is the decisive factor in weight loss here.
One study in isolation doesn’t mean to say we’re going to have a revolution on the way we eat and standardised dietary advice, but it does lend some support to the message us nutrition professionals send regarding eating at regular times over the day.
Sherman, Y. Genzer, R. Cohen, N. Chapnik, Z. Madar, O. Froy. Timed high-fat diet resets circadian metabolism and prevents obesity. The FASEB Journal, 2012; 26 (8): 3493 DOI: 10.1096/fj.12-208868