Scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have introduced information that when we eat may be as important as what we eat, ScienceDaily reported.
Their paper published in Cell Metabolism reported that mice limited to eating during an 8-hour period were healthier than mice allowed to eat freely throughout the day, regardless of the quality and content of their diet.
“It’s a dogma that a high-fat diet leads to obesity and that we should eat frequently when we are awake,” says Satchidananda Panda, an associate professor in the Regulatory Biology Laboratory and senior author of the paper. “Our findings, however, suggest that regular eating times and fasting for a significant number of hours a day might be beneficial to our health.”
The mice that ate fatty food frequently gained weight and developed high cholesterol, high blood glucose, liver damage and diminished motor control. The mice in the time-restricted group weighed 28 percent less and demonstrated no adverse health effects even though they ate the same amount of calories from the same fatty food. In addition, the time-restricted mice outperformed the unrestricted eaters and those on a normal diet when given an exercise test.
“This was a surprising result,” says Megumi Hatori, a postdoctoral researcher in Panda’s laboratory and a first author of the study. “For the last 50 years, we have been told to reduce our calories from fat and to eat smaller meals and snacks throughout the day. We found, however, that fasting time is important. By eating in a time-restricted fashion, you can still resist the damaging effects of a high-fat diet, and we did not find any adverse effects of time-restricted eating when eating healthy food.”
She cautioned against jumping to the conclusion that it is all right to eat lots of unhealthy foods as long as we observe the intra-day fast. “What we showed is under daily fasting the body can fight unhealthy food to a significant extent,” she says. “But there are bound to be limits.”
Restricting one’s eating to an eight hour period in a 24-hour day in no easy task for a human being with a normal working day and a family as opposed to a mouse in captivity. I think for the majority of us eat less; move more remains the rule.
There may be some benefits to be gained from intermittent fasting, perhaps on weekends.