If you’re tired of being told what to eat when on a diet, you can now take a long sigh of relief. A new study suggests that it may not be what you eat that makes you gain weight, but rather when you eat.
Over an 18 week study conducted by the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, CA, mice that were fed a high-fat diet and allowed to eat whenever they wanted, gained weight. On the other hand, the mice that were restricted to eating only eight hours a day were protected against obesity, even though they consumed just as many calories as the unrestricted mice.
What’s the reason behind this? The answer is relatively straightforward. “Every organ has a clock,” said study researcher Satchidananda Panda. That means there are times that our livers, intestines, muscles and other organs work at peak efficiency, and other times when they are–more or less–sleeping.
These metabolic cycles are important for processes such as cholesterol breakdown, and they should be turned on when we eat and turned off when we don’t, Panda explained. So, if you’re eating frequently throughout the day and night, these normal metabolic cycles can be thrown off. By eating on a time-restricted schedule, mice were protected from the adverse effects of their high-fat diet and actually showed improvements in their metabolism compared with the unrestricted mice. They also gained 28 percent less weight than unrestricted mice and suffered less liver damage. So hopefully further studies will prove that the same results work with humans.
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