Fit Family: 12 Hour Fast for Fat Loss

by Mike Levinson

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 4.41.55 PMIf you couldn’t let anything cross your lips from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., but you were allowed to eat anything you wanted for eight hours a day and still lose weight, would you try it? That’s the apparent bottom line of a study which stirred up the weight loss pot.

Scientists put groups of mice on different diet regimens for 100 days. One group of rodents ate healthy food while animals in two of the groups chowed down on high-fat, high-calorie feed. Half of the junk food eaters were allowed to munch whenever they wanted to while the others only had access to feed for the eight hours they were most active. The conclusion: even though they ate a fatty diet, the mice who were forced to fast for 16 hours were almost as lean as those who ate the healthy fare. Interestingly, the round the clock junk food eaters became obese and developed health problems, even though they consumed about the same amount of fat and calories as the time-restricted junk food fed mice.

Dieters hoping to shed the pounds should watch the clock as much as their calories after scientists discovered that limiting the hours we eat stops weight gain. Confining meals to a 12 hour window, such as 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., and fasting for the remaining day, appears to make a huge difference to whether fat is stored or burned up by the body.

Researchers at The Salk Institute in the U.S., said it adds more evidence to studies which show that eating late at night causes weight gain. They suggest restricting eating hours could help fight high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity. The researchers studied 400 mice, ranging from normal to obese who were placed on various types of diets and lengths of time restrictions.

They showed that mice which were fed a high-fat diet but allowed access to food for only 12 hours per day, were healthier and slimmer than mice given access to the same food for the whole day, even though the two groups consumed the same number of calories. The results were the same even if the diets were high fat, high sugar or high fruit sugars.

The study also suggests that the odd blip is unlikely to make a difference. A late night weekend takeaway, for example, is unlikely to harm the body’s metabolism. However regularly eating at night would have a big impact. 

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