ISLAMABAD, Jan 30 (Online): Weight loss is sometimes necessary for people to maintain a healthy weight, and people can use a wide variety of methods to lose weight.
Intermittent fasting, or only eating during specific time intervals, is one of the methods that has increased in popularity in recent years. However, researchers are still working to understand if and how the timing of eating impacts weight loss.
A recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart AssociationTrusted Source found that the frequency and size of meals had a more significant impact on weight gain than the time window of eating.
The results indicate that restricting eating to certain times of day with intermittent fasting may be ineffective for people to lose weight in the long term.
Eating disorders can severely affect the quality of life of people living with these conditions and those close to them. Early intervention and treatment greatly improve the likelihood of recovery.
Anyone who suspects that they or a loved one has an eating disorder can contact the National Eating Disorders Association for advice and support via:
• phone or text at 800-931-2237
• online chat, by going to this link
These services are only open during specific hours. Someone in crisis can text “NEDA” to 741741 at any time to get support from a trained volunteer at the Crisis Text Line.
Alternatively, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) runs a Disaster Distress Helpline that people can contact on 800-985-5990 for 24-7 support.
Many other resources are available, including:
• National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders
• National Alliance for Eating Disorders
• F.E.A.S.T., which provides support and educational resources to friends and family who want to help someone living with an eating disorder
Intermittent fasting: risks and benefits
Intermittent fastingTrusted Source involves only eating during specific time intervals.
There are many ways to do intermittent fasting; it can mean not eating on certain days or only eating food at certain times of the day. Some people seek to use IF to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
Some evidenceTrusted Source suggests that intermittent fasting can help people lose body fat and may help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
However, researchers are still working to understand the potential dangers of intermittent fasting and how to weigh these risks against the potential benefits. Overall, this is an area where there is a need for more data.
Beata Rydyger, a registered nutritionist based in Los Angeles, CA, and clinical nutritional advisor to Zen Nutrients, who was not involved in the study, pointed out a challenge with studying dietary behaviors to Medical News Today:
“Generally speaking, diets are more difficult to study because dietary changes don’t have an immediate effect on health. Most study participants find it hard to track what they eat, and few can adhere to a diet for long enough for beneficial effects to be measured.”
“Proponents of intermittent fasting highlight a range of potential benefits, some of which are supported by research, including improvements in weight loss, thinking and memory, type 2 diabetes, tissue health, and even physical performance.”
Study author Dr. Wendy Bennett, elaborated on their research methods to MNT:
“We designed an app to collect ‘timing of eating,’ and when participants input the timing, we also asked them the size of the meal (small, med, or large). Participants from 3 health systems used the app for 6 months. We linked the app data with survey data with electronic health records.”
Dr. Bennett said that they then analyzed the link between eating intervals, including the participants’ total eating window, the time between their wake-up and bedtime, and the time between their last meal and bedtime, with changes in their weight over about six years.
The researchers found that the timing from the first meal of the day to the last meal of the day was not associated with changes in weight. However, they did find that eating more frequent, larger meals were associated with weight gain.
“The main clinical implication is that restricting your window of eating (i.e., eating over less time, having more fasting time) may not reduce weight gain over time. While eating more medium or large meals is associated with weight gain over time. And more smaller meals are associated with weight loss over time.”
— Dr. Wendy Bennett
In some of their analysis, the researchers found that eating sooner after waking up and having a longer time between a final meal and going to bed may be associated with less weight gain.
Dr. Katherine Saunders, co-founder of Intellihealth and Obesity Physician who practices at Intellihealth’s telemedicine practice, Flyte Medical, who was also not involved in the study, noted to MNT that the main finding was not surprising.
“The investigators found an association between eating more frequent and larger meals and weight gain, suggesting that total overall caloric intake is the major driver of weight gain. This is not surprising,” she said.
“What is more interesting is that participants with [a] shorter time from wake up to first meal and with longer time from last meal to sleep appeared to experience less weight gain, a trend suggesting that eating earlier in the day might facilitate weight control.”
— Dr. Katherine Saunders