Studies show that splitting your day into periods of eating and fasting promotes health and weight loss, but is that how we eat? An innovative study published in 2015 revealed that many of us are all-day grazers, eating for 15 hours or more each day.
That, by itself, is an interesting finding, but what’s truly remarkable is what happened to the study participant’s weight, energy level, and sleep satisfaction when they did nothing more than shortened their daily eating window by just a few hours.
In this post, we’ll take a look at how shortening your eating hours might result in a health and weight loss boost for you.
Shortening Your Eating Hours At-A-Glance
- Eating trends skew towards a 15-hour eating window and late-night snacking.
- Participants that shortened their eating window to 10-12 hours per day for 16 weeks benefitted from weight loss, sleep improvement, and increased energy.
How Shortening Your Eating Hours Affects You [Video]
In this video, you will learn…
- The methods of the 2015 study.
- What researchers discovered about our eating habits.
- The benefits of shortening your eating hours.
Discovering How We Eat
In 2015, a research team used a Smartphone app to track the eating patterns of men and women enrolled in a scientific study (1).
They wanted to do two things:
- First, they wanted to uncover trends in our eating patterns.
- Second, they wanted to see if tweaking those established patterns of eating would lead to weight loss or health changes.
Using the app, participants took pictures of everything they ate and drank throughout the day. This data was then sent to the research team for analysis.
After three weeks, enough data was collected to establish normal eating patterns, which revealed some interesting initial findings.
They discovered the following trends:
- More than half of us eat for 15 hours or more each day.
- The only time that many of us stop eating is when we sleep.
- We eat late in the day, with more than 35% of calorie consumption coming after 6 PM.
- We eat differently on the weekend. This sets up what the research team described as “metabolic jet-lag”. This means that our normal metabolic rhythm is thrown off in a way akin to traveling across time zones.
Shortening Your Eating Hours
Eight men and women were selected to take part in a 16-week intervention study.
These individuals were instructed to reduce their typical eating duration down to 10-12 hours a day. They were not instructed to change their nutrition or calorie intake, just their eating window.
At the end of the 16 weeks, the participants lost an average of 3.27 kilograms, which is more than seven pounds. They reported a significant improvement in sleep satisfaction and energy level.
The changes were so impactful that all participants voluntarily expressed an interest in continuing unsupervised at the end of the study. When they checked in with them 36 weeks later, “the participants maintained weight loss and sleep improvement and felt more energetic.”
As a society, we think that we eat three meals a day with an occasional snack. This study revealed, however, that many of us graze from the time we get up to the time we go to bed.
The mindless consumption of calories likely plays a role in the growing obesity epidemic.
The good news is that by simply tuning into when you eat, you can positively impact your weight and health. By consciously restricting the number of hours that you eat during the day, you unconsciously lose weight loss and improve your health.
Cycling between periods of eating and fasting is the basis of intermittent fasting. I have videos and articles on this topic if you’d like to learn more.
- 10 Intermittent Fasting Schedules for Weight Loss
- 6 Common Intermittent Fasting Mistakes
- 3 Ways to Make Intermittent Fasting Much Easier
- Intermittent Fasting and Autophagy – How Fasting Cleans Your Cells
- Intermittent Fasting for Women Over 50 – Good or Bad?
- Does Coffee Break Intermittent Fasting?
(1) Gill, Shubhroz, and Satchidananda Panda. “A smartphone app reveals erratic diurnal eating patterns in humans that can be modulated for health benefits.” Cell metabolism 22.5 (2015): 789-798.
About the Author
Dr. Becky Gillaspy, DC graduated Summa Cum Laude with research honors from Palmer College of Chiropractic in 1991.