If you're trying to lose weight, a new study suggests you might want to stop paying attention to what you shove into your face and start paying attention to when you shove it.
New research from the Salk Institute suggests that it's possible to eat whatever you want without gaining a pound, just so long as you eat it within an 8–12 hour time frame. Their study, titled "Time-Restricted Eating is a Preventative and Therapeutic Intervention Against Diverse Nutritional Challenges," further implies that eating within these hours can ward off diabetes.
"In our previous study, we had shown that if we let mice eat only for 8–9 hours a day, those mice are protected from weight gain, obesity and diabetes," claims Satchin Panda, an associate professor at the Salk Institute. Conversely, when researchers studied a separate set of mice — who were allowed to eat over the course of 24 hours — they found the animals had gained weight on the same exact diet.
And it works both ways, according to Panda. "We were also surprised to find the obese mice [on the time-restricted diet] lost bodyweight, reduced blood sugar levels to almost normal levels, and had lower cholesterol," he adds, meaning that his mice actually lost weight when they ate whatever they wanted within a specific span of time.
This particular diet has even shown to be immune to sudden splurges of errant behaviour. For example, mice on time-restricted diets showed no significant increase in body mass when they were allowed to binge-eat on weekends after adhering to their diets on weekdays.
The reason this diet works, they say, is because it's more in tune with the natural circadian rhythms of the body. "You don’t have to really calorie count," says research collaborator Amir Zarranpar. "What this really works on is your own biology and letting your body use its own evolutionary metabolic pathways to shuttle energy appropriately."
Further testing needs to be taken to determine if the effects can be replicated in humans, but the institute feels their current findings show lots of promise.
In other words, they think it's entirely possible that we can shove our faces without gaining an ounce — and perhaps even lose weight — as long as we learn to shove at the appropriate times.