In terms of healthy eating, timing is everything.
That's the word from researchers who claim the time of day that you eat may be just as important for your health as what you eat.
Having your meals in a consistent window of 8 to 10 hours may help prevent and manage chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, according to the authors of a new study published online Sept. 22 in the journal Endocrine Reviews.
"People who are trying to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle should pay more attention to when they eat as well as what they eat. Time-restricted eating is an easy-to-follow and effective dietary strategy that requires less mental math than counting calories," said researcher Satchidananda Panda, from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif.
"Intermittent fasting can improve sleep and a person's quality of life as well as reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease," Panda said in a journal news release.
Time-restricted eating is a type of intermittent fasting that limits eating to a certain number of hours each day. Intermittent fasting is a popular diet trend used to lose weight, improve health and simplify lifestyles, researchers said.
In their research, investigators looked into the science behind time-restricted eating and reviewed prior studies.
The study found that when eating was restricted to fewer than 12 hours a day, sleep and quality of life improved. At the same time, risks for heart and liver disease and obesity decreased.
Recent research has shown that genes, hormones and metabolism rise and fall at different times of the day. Aligning when we eat with the body's internal clock can optimize health and reduce the risk of chronic conditions.
"Eating at random times breaks the synchrony of our internal program and make us prone to diseases," Panda said. "Intermittent fasting is a lifestyle that anyone can adopt. It can help eliminate health disparities and lets everyone live a healthy and fulfilling life."