What to eat has long been a controversial subject. When to eat, not so much. But research indicates that the timing of meals might have a significant effect on health. A group of scientists led by Marriam Ali, M.D., of Northwestern University in Chicago set out to see how timing affected the health of more than 10,000 adults who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
The investigators chose to focus on the effect of meal timing on fasting blood sugar and insulin resistance. These measures were selected because they are known to affect a person’s ability to break food down into the simpler forms that the body needs for good health.
“We found people who started eating earlier in the day had lower blood sugar levels and less insulin resistance, regardless of whether they restricted their food intake to less than 10 hours a day or their food intake was spread over more than 13 hours daily,” said Ali in a release.
The study did not address the relative benefits of higher degrees of restriction, such as within an 8 hour or less period, or of periodic fasting. Additionally, it is important to note that studies like this one are not able to demonstrate cause-effect relationships, only the degree to which the factors being measured are found to be associated with each other.
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