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Can’t Lose Weight? It’s The Time of Day You’re Eating

People go to extreme measures when trying to lose weight. In France, the “air diet” was popular for a hot second and is exactly what it sounds like – a fancy term for starving yourself. Others have resorted to dangerous weight loss attempts, like trying to get infected with mononucleosis. Commonly known as mono or the kissing disease, mononucleosis is a dangerous virus. With mono, the appetite is gone along with energy levels. Infected individuals are feverish, swollen, and stuck in bed for up to a month. No thank you! If considering insane methods to lose those extra pounds, might as well stay fat and happy. The good news is that there might be a simple fix for people struggling with losing weight.

When people think of weight loss, they think “diet”. By definition, a diet is what you eat, but scientists at UT Southwestern Medical Centre have discovered that WHEN you eat could be more important then calorie consumption for weight loss.

Scientists always knew that calorie restriction leads to prolonged lifespans in humans and animals, but nobody fully understood the mechanisms behind it. This is because it’s difficult to study. Scientists had issues measuring and controlling an animal’s feeding over their lifetime until recently.

Scientists from UT developed a new system that controls the amount, timing, and duration of feeding times for animals while recording all their activity. This all in an effort to understand how calorie restriction increases longevity, but they ended up discovering something else more intriguing.

In the study, two groups of mice were fed at the wrong time during the light-dark cycle. One group had a 30% reduction in calories and the second unlimited access to food during the day. Out of five total groups, only the mice on a reduced diet who ate during the day, their normal active time, lost weight. This despite another group of mice being fed the same amount at a different time. Mice with unlimited access to food, remained active at night, suggesting an onset of chronic sleep deprivation.

Based on the study’s findings, dieting for humans is only effective if calories are consumed during the daytime, when they’re naturally awake and active. While dieting, people won’t lose weight if  eating at the wrong time or at night.

Scientists also found that mice, when reduced to eating in a very short period of time, were surprisingly active during the day. This data is beginning to reveal originally unknown links between feeding, metabolism, and behavior.

When individuals eat can affect their circadian rhythm and this may be how diet affects lifespan. The two groups fed at the wrong times, one with a 30% calorie reduction and one with unlimited calories, both were active at night. Eating at the wrong time not only works against dieting, but it may lead to sleep deprivation, and potentially shorten lifespans by disrupting an individual’s circadian rhythm.

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