Most dieticians in the UAE say that there may be optimal times of the day to eat food that can aid weight loss.

Medical professionals have reiterated after a study published in the journal Cell Metabolism, which suggests that there may be an ideal window of time to eat during the day.

Studies in the journal say that keeping meals within a 10-hour period could improve blood sugar and cholesterol levels, aside from that, eating relatively early could also be beneficial for weight loss.

Sakina Mustansir, Clinical Dietician, Prime Hospital says, “When we eat is just as important as what we eat. That’s because our metabolism is closely related to our circadian rhythm, which is basically our internal body clock. This internal clock is synchronized with the external environment like light and food. This strategy is also known as ‘early time restricted eating’. Eating within one hour of waking up and four hours before sleeping is an ideal eating window. Aligning your mealtime with your circadian rhythm has shown to maximize weight loss, improve energy and alertness, reduce risk of type 2 Diabetes, blood pressure among others.”

She also highlights that the usual trend for meal timings in UAE is "a light and late breakfast and heavy and late dinner". This would de-synchronize one's internal body clocks causing hormonal imbalances, poor sleep, increased hunger pangs and sugar cravings, disturbed digestion leading to weight gain and obesity.

Echoing similar views, Lama Tabasha, Clinical Dietitian, Burjeel Hospital, Abu Dhabi says, “This is a question that is always debatable… does the timing of the meal matter?”

She adds, “Chrononutrition’, a new area of research, is used to describe the emerging research area combining chronobiology (the circadian clock system) with nutrition, metabolism, energy balance, and health. Due to busy work schedules, most people nowadays have irregular eating patterns, with most calories consumed after work, mostly in the evening.”

“It’s true that weight loss and weight gain mainly depend on the ratio between calorie intake and expenditure, but it’s not as simple as multiple factors can play a role here. There is increasing evidence that the structure of meal timing may contribute to the global rise in obesity,” she adds.

But presenting a different view, is Dr Jimmy Joseph, Specialist Internal Medicine and Diabetologist, Aster Speciality Medical Centre, International City, Dubai who adds, “This study is not true for the whole population.”

“Different long-term studies on the same topic have shown different end results. Studies have shown positive outcomes when TRE is associated with calorie intake restriction,” he adds.

He explains that Time-Restricted Eating (as suggested in this case) or non-Time Restricted Eating, is proven to have delivered results only when there has been a sufficient decrease in the intake of calories. It is the amount of intake that makes these differences, not the strategy of having food.

Citing different studies Joseph sums up, “There are many limitations to this study, and cannot be generalized to the whole population. The limitations involve the provision or availability of all foods, the number of calories consumed and the underlying chronic health diseases where prolonged fasting is permitted.”

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