New Research: Eating Breakfast at This Hour Lowers Weight and Blood Pressure

Researchers discovered that it resulted in "significantly greater reductions in body weight" and came with a heart-healthy benefit. 

You’ve counted calories, cut carbs, have even considered Ozempic for weight loss—but all the while, you’ve wondered how long you can keep these trim-down tactics going without “cheating” or throwing them aside completely.

New research suggests one science-backed weight loss method is allowing people the foods they enjoy while offering disciplined parameters that make it simple to maintain. As a bonus, this approach is also showing healthy effects on heart health by lowering blood pressure. 

That’s the conclusion from a recent research study published on November 24, 2023 in the journal Nutrients. Researchers analyzed existing data from several past studies that involved overweight individuals to explore the potential contributions of intermittent fasting compared to traditional dieting. The researchers discovered that incorporating timed eating resulted in “significantly greater reductions in body weight” compared to calorie restriction alone. Intermittent fasting, which can involve eating during specific hours or even abstaining from eating for a few days a week, was specifically studied in the context of daily eating within a specific window. 

The researchers also investigated the effects of an eating window lasting an average of six to 10 hours combined with calorie reduction on body weight and other metabolic factors. Additionally, they examined three different eating windows based on when eating commenced—early, late, or unspecified—to assess the impact of timing.

The findings revealed that individuals who started eating earlier, before 11 a.m.—and consequently ended their eating window earlier—experienced slightly more weight loss, though any form of timed eating was more effective than simply reducing calories. Beginning the eating frame before 11 a.m. also positively affected blood pressure, which was a benefit not observed in the later window. However, the team suggests that no matter when an individual breaks their overnight fast, many people can benefit from a set eating window of six to 10 hours.

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Why does fasting appear to be more effective for weight loss than simply reducing calories? According to the study, it could be attributed to “a switch from fat storage to fat burning” that happens six to eight hours after fasting starts. This switch triggers the utilization of fatty acids and ketones, which means fat is being used up and converted to energy.

The study suggests the early eating window might have a slight advantage because, as the researchers explain, “hormones that are important for regulating metabolism reach their peak secretion in the morning.” And, overall, repeated research shows that timed fasting windows generally lead to an unintentional reduction in the calories an individual consumes. Calorie reduction, say the researchers, is still shown to help reduce blood pressure, regulate glucose, and improve cholesterol profiles in overweight individuals, regardless of the time they ate.

If you want to test intermittent fasting in your life, always consult with a healthcare provider first. Then, determine your eating window and use a calorie counter to track your eating habits. The study does not specify the optimal length of the eating window, so experiment with six- to 10-hour eating windows and adjust the window to the time of day that suits you best. For instance, to follow the early-timed fast, you might have breakfast at 10 a.m. and stop eating by 8 p.m. for a 14-hour fast with a 10-hour eating window. 

Medically reviewed by Latoya Julce RN, BSN, on January 25, 2024

Meaghan Cameron, MS
Meaghan has more than 15 years of experience in writing and editing food, travel, fitness, sports, and lifestyle material. Her professional journey began at Reader's Digest, where she honed her skills and developed a passion for creating engaging content. Throughout her career, she has contributed her expertise to renowned platforms such as Food Network, Martha Stewart, Outside Television, and Eat This, Not That! Additionally, Meaghan has valuable experience in radio and video production. Before entering the world of content creation, Meaghan spent more than a decade working in the restaurant industry. This hands-on experience has provided her with insider knowledge and secrets about the workings of the industry. Meaghan holds a bachelor's degree in English from the State University of New York (SUNY) Purchase and a master's degree in publishing from Pace University.