For some time, we’ve been having ongoing discussions at The Aerie about eating better in an effort to stay healthier. Over the past couple of years, we’ve cut down our meat consumption considerably and we’ve been trying to do a better job of maintaining a sane portion size for dinner because I’ve always argued that ingesting a lot of calories before bedtime is a really bad idea metabolically. That’s been going pretty well, too.
One of the things I’ve also argued for is that we should be eating earlier in the evening as opposed to settling for a late dinner. This goes to the same argument as portion control: in that it’s bad to eat big late. We’ve gotten less traction on this one because it’s a lot nicer to come home, relax for a bit, maybe have happy hour and THEN think about dinner rather than just leap into it in some unpleasant calorophobic drive to eat as soon as possible. I mean, where’s the fun in that?
However, some new research though suggests that having a large gap in your feeding schedule could be very good for you. A paper published in the latest Cell Metabolism shows that mice on a time-restricted, high-fat diet showed little ill effects compared to those that were allowed to free feed the same amount of calories whenever they wanted. The time restricted mice were only allowed to eat over eight hours.
After 100 days, the free-feeding group had all the symptoms you’d expect from eating a crappy diet: they’d gained weight, developed high cholesterol, had high blood sugar levels, liver damage, and diminished motor control. The time-restricted mice, however, showed none of these effects even though they ate the same amount of crappy calories. In fact, the time-restricted mice were able to out-perform another group of free-feeding mice that were given a healthy diet in an exercise test.
What’s it mean for you and me? Well, if the biology applies to humans (and there’s a pretty reasonable chance it will), it suggests that while it’s still important to consider what we eat, we might want to start thinking more about when we eat it.
What’s that old joke — you can call me anything you want, just don’t call me late for dinner? Sound advice, apparently.