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'It's not what you eat, it's when you eat' claim

The Daily Telegraph tells us “why dieting is all in the timing”. Sticking to strict mealtimes is apparently the key, rather than snacking on healthy food.

Sadly for those of us who enjoy a daily dose of high-fat fast food, the true story behind the headlines is a little more complicated.

The research is actually in mice and researchers were trying to see if the body clock could have an impact on metabolism, which, in turn, could affect factors such as body fat.

One group of mice was provided with a high-fat diet, which they only had access to at set times during each day over the course of 18 weeks.

The mice were then compared to three different control groups – unlimited access to a high-fat diet; time-restricted access to a low-fat diet; and unlimited access to a low-fat diet

The surprising result was that mice in the time-restricted high-fat group put on less weight than mice in the unrestricted low-fat group – even though the researchers calculated that both groups of mice ate the same amount of calories.

A possible interpretation of the results is that it may be possible to ‘train’ your metabolism. If you eat your three meals at the same time every day, your metabolism ‘knows’ to work harder to burn off the fat (though this is, of course, pure speculation).

It should be pointed out that the mice in the restricted high-fat diet still put on weight, just not as much weight as expected. So if you are trying to shift the pounds, then a strict timetable won’t help you if you do eat high-fat food. And you will still be prone to the health risks, such as heart disease, that are associated with a high-fat diet.

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