When I was medical school, I noticed one of my friends had lost a bit of weight (intentionally). Even though I was not really interested in things like weight control and diet in those days, my curiosity got the better of me and I asked him how he did it. Had he cut back on fat or upped his exercise, I wondered. His response was that he was doing no more exercise than before and he was eating precisely the same food as before. The only change, he told me, that he was refraining from eating and drinking anything but water after 6.00 pm until the following morning.
This conversation came back to me this week on reading the summary of study in which young men spent two weeks on each of two eating regimes :
1. normal eating
2. normal eating except no food between 7.00 pm and the following 6.00 am
Food intake and weight was calculated in both settings.
Here are the main findings of the study:
- In setting 1, individuals ate an average of 700 calories each day between 7.00 pm and 6.00 am.
- In setting 2, individuals ate no calories during this time period (as instructed).
- Over the course of the whole day, individuals in setting 1 ate an average of about 2660 calories each day.
- In setting 2, average daily intake was about 2420 (about 240 calories less than in setting 1).
- In setting 1, average weight change was a gain of 0.6 kg, while in setting 2, there was an average loss of 0.4 kg.
This is a small study, in a quite confined subset of people (young, healthy men) and relatively short in duration. However, it does provide evidence which suggests that cutting out evening eating may not be fully compensated for by additional eating at other times of the day, and may promote weight loss.
Another way of looking at this dietary tactic is as a form of intermittent fasting which I’ve written about here.
1. Le Cheminant JD, et al. Restricting night-time eating reduces daily energy intake in healthy young men: a short-term cross-over study British
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