BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - You have probably heard it's a bad idea to skip breakfast, and that midnight snacks are to be avoided. Well now new research from UAB shows that's true.
Researchers studied men that were pre-diabetic and found that if they ate dinner by midafternoon, and then fasted until breakfast, their bodies could process sugar better, and their blood pressure dropped drastically.
"We're thinking that this eating earlier in the day not only helps reduce your risk for diabetes, but also cardiovascular and heart diseases," says Courtney Peterson, Ph.D., assistant professor at UAB dept nutrition sciences.
The trick, was limiting the time they ate during the day to just six hours, instead of the normal 12.
The study participants all ate the same amount of food, but some partook in what's called "early time restricted feeding," which is basically eating dinner in the midafternoon and then fasting the rest of the day. This is the first study to show that intermittent fasting has benefits independent of what or how much you eat.
"What we found after 5 weeks, was that the men who ate earlier in the day, their insulin sensitivity, or their bodies ability to process the sugar in your bloodstream improved. It also lowered their blood pressure quiet dramatically," says Peterson. "We saw about a 10 point reduction in the blood pressure, and that's without weight loss. That is on par with blood pressure lowering medications."
For those who can't adjust their meal times to eat dinner earlier, Peterson says they should try to eat more earlier in the day to see similar benefits.
"Best blood sugar control is late morning. When its late at night and it's dark our bodies are in a rev down mode, so if you're eating late at night that's not a good thing," says Peterson. "Try to make dinner your lightest meal of the day, frontload or shift as many calories as possible to lunch or breakfast."
Peterson says that research already shows that the old adage to "eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper," helps women lose weight and also helps improve blood sugar control, and even ovulation.
"What I love about the research I do is it is practical. Everything I do, I try to make it so that people can take it home and it will affect their lives," says Peterson. "One of the goals in my lab is to change dietary guidelines for the better. I think we are going to see more and more organizations released guidelines on meal timing."
The lab is preparing to start a new weight loss study, and will start looking for people to sign up in June. It's a 14 week study, and participants need to enroll in UAB's weight loss medicine clinic. You can find more information here