According to a 10-week study into “time-restricted feeding” led by the University of Surrey, meal times can have a significant impact on body composition.
Unlike other studies into this particular type of intermittent fasting, participants were not required to follow a particular diet and could eat whatever they wanted, so long as it was within a specific window.
Researchers split participants into two groups: a control group who ate their meals as they normally would and another group who were required to eat their breakfast 90 minutes later than normal while also eating their dinner 90 minutes earlier.
Each participant also completed diet diaries throughout the experiment, provided blood samples beforehand and completed a questionnaire afterwards.
The results showed that those who stuck to eating within a specific window lost more than twice as much body fat on average than the control group.
Following the study, researchers examined whether this form of intermittent fasting was sustainable in the long term.
However, more than half (57 per cent) of participants in the fasting group said they wouldn’t be able to maintain their restrictive eating window due to it being incompatible with their family and social lives.
On the other hand, 43 per cent said they would consider maintaining the plan if there was more flexibility with regards to eating times.
It's not the first time intermittent fasting has been linked to promoting fat loss.
In 2012, the 5:2 Diet surged in popularity, advocating structuring your week around five “normal” days of eating and two “fasted” days when you’re advised to limit your food intake to 500-600 calories.
However, the diet has sparked controversy, with some researchers claiming it could increase the risk of diabetes and does not in fact reduce the risk of heart disease, as a previous study claimed.
The study was based on a sample of 16 healthy people between the ages of 29 and 57.