In completely counter-intuitive research, scientists at the Hebrew University
have found that high-fat meals served at the same time and for the same length
of time every day can “reset” metabolism and prevent obesity – that is, at least
in laboratory mice.
The research, just published in the Journal of the
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB Journal), was
conducted by Prof.
Oren Froy along with Prof. Zecharia Madar,
research student Yoni Genzer and research fellow Dr. Hadas Sherman at the
Institute of Biochemistry, Food Science and Nutrition at the Hebrew University
of Jerusalem’s Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and
The timed, “carefully scheduled” high-fat diet leads to
increased insulin sensitivity and fat oxidation, and a decrease in body weight,
fat profile and inflammation.
The results were comparable to those in
mice fed a low-fat diet.
“Because a high-fat diet is difficult to abstain
from, the timing of meals can be suggested for individuals seeking weight loss
and better reset metabolism,” they wrote.
With timed eating, the high-fat
diet can lead to a reduction in body weight and a unique metabolism in which,
instead of storing fat, the body uses it for energy at times when no food is
Previous research has shown that disrupting mammals’ daily
rhythms or feeding them a high-fat diet disrupts metabolism and leads to
obesity. The HU researchers wanted to determine the effect of combining a
high-fat diet with long-term feeding on a fixed schedule.
that a careful scheduling of meals would regulate the biological clock
(circadian rhythm) and reduce the effects of a highfat diet that under normal
circumstances would lead to obesity.
For 18 weeks, they fed a group of mice a high-fat diet on a fixed schedule, comparing the results with
mice in three control groups – one that ate a low-fat diet on a fixed schedule,
a second that ate an unscheduled low-fat diet in the quantity and frequency of
its choosing, and a third that ate an unscheduled high-fat diet.
groups of mice gained weight throughout the experiment. The mice on the
scheduled high-fat diet had a lower final body weight than the mice eating an
unscheduled high-fat diet. Surprisingly, the mice on the scheduled high-fat diet
also had a lower final body weight than the mice that ate an unscheduled low-fat
diet, even though both groups consumed the same amount of calories.
addition, the mice on the scheduled high-fat diet showed a unique metabolic
state in which the fats they ingested were not stored but rather utilized for
energy at times when no food was available, such as between
According to Froy, “Our research shows that the timing of food
consumption takes precedence over the amount of fat in the diet, leading to
improved metabolism and helping to prevent obesity. Improving metabolism through
the careful scheduling of meals, without limiting the content of the daily menu,
could be used as a therapeutic tool to prevent obesity in humans.”
snacking on potato chips and hamburgers in front of the TV set is out, and
eating solid, even highfat, meals sitting around the family dining table at the
same time every day will enable you to buckle your belts.