This is why eating earlier in the day helps weight loss, according to research

There’s no secret recipe to losing weight. For every diet that claims to do wonders comes another promising to do it better until you try it and another comes waiting for you to convert.

But is the key to losing weight as simple as choosing the right time of day to feast? New research thinks so.

A study published in the journal Obesity found that squeezing meals into smaller windows during the earlier parts of the day can help attribute to weight loss because it reduces appetite, which means fewer calories when it comes to eating more often.

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Meal scheduling

“Coordinating meals with circadian rhythms, or your body’s internal clock, maybe a powerful strategy for reducing appetite and improving metabolic health,” Eric Ravussin, Ph.D., one of the study’s authors, said in a press release.

Ten overweight subjects were used for 12-hour and 18-hour fasting programs for four days. Each consisted of the same food and amounts but presented in random overs. Each participant was considered healthy and was assigned to two different meal-timed plans. The first focused on eating three meals during a 12-hour slot with breakfast promptly at 8 AM and dinner at 8 PM and participants fasted for 12 hours. In the second schedule, all three meals followed an early time-restricting feeding (eTRF) in a six-hour window where breakfast was consumed again at 8 AM but dinner at 2 PM with a fasting period of 18 hours per day.

At the end of each trial, participants had their metabolism measured, which looked at calories, carbohydrates, fat and protein burned in the experiment, and looked at appetite levels for every three hours participants were awake.

While calorie-burning didn’t differ much between the groups, the eTRF schedule increased the ability to burn fat while reducing appetite levels and hunger hormones both in the morning and evening.

“We suspect that a majority of people may find meal timing strategies helpful for losing weight or to maintain their weight since these strategies naturally appear to curb appetite, which may help people eat less,” said lead author Courtney M. Peterson, Ph.D.