The latest “Science”: Eat during the day, stop at night! Losing weight doesn’t really have to be hard work

▎WuXi AppTec Content Team Editor 

Obesity is a topic of concern and headache for many people, but obesity is difficult to solve, and it is not difficult to imagine. One of the key reasons for its occurrence is that the energy intake exceeds the consumption. energy, so if you want to lose weight, you need to strictly control the amount you eat every day.

This view is also supported by many studies, including calorie restriction, various popular weight loss diets are trying to start from the energy intake side as much as possible to solve the problem of obesity.

New research published today in Science finds that you may not need to keep your mouth shut so much, just consume energy at the peak of your normal rhythm, even if it’s not deliberately Controlling calories is also less likely to gain weight.

The body has a very strict calorie metabolism system. Excessive energy intake from food will be stored in white adipose tissue, while brown and beige adipose tissue will consume energy through heat production. . These processes are controlled by an invisible molecular clock, and changes in the expression of related rhythmic genes can regulate physiological processes, including energy intake and use.

But this regulation is not one-way.When you consume too much energy at any time, it can in turn inhibit the expression of certain rhythmic genes, disrupt normal metabolism and cause Obesity. Even if it wasn’t for food, disrupting the mice’s normal rhythms with light could reduce their calorie production and make the mice more prone to obesity.

So it seems that in order to avoid gaining weight, it seems that a strict daily rhythm must first be followed. But in reality, if you do just that, the rewards may be more than you think.

The new study tested the changes in mice by controlling the timing of their meals, known as time-restricted feeding (TRF). This kind of diet only restricts the time period of eating, but does not reduce calories or adjust dietary components, which means that the so-called low-fat diet and high-protein diet are not considered at all.

▲According to the habits of mice, feeding only at night can significantly promote metabolic health and reduce the risk of weight gain (Image source: Reference [1]) p>

The habit of mice is nocturnal, so the mice in the experimental group received food only during the active period of the night, and could only drink water at other times. After a period of time, the effect was striking, whether the mice were fed a high-fat diet or had their circadian rhythm disturbed, they were able to restore normal metabolism after TRF, and their rhythm clock-related mechanisms were also improved.

The end result is that without deliberate calorie restriction and increased exercise, these mice not only didn’t gain weight, they became metabolically healthier.

And this effect is still inseparable from the thermogenesis of fat cells. When brown adipose tissue judges that the intake of glucose is too much, it can start an ineffective cycle to accelerate the turnover of ATP and generate heat. One of these pathways focuses on creatine, and creatine kinase B (CKB) catalyzes the transfer of phosphate groups between ATP and creatine, accelerating ATP turnover to balance energy supply.

▲Creatine plays a key role in thermogenesis (Image source: Reference [1])

However, CKB is also rhythmically regulated. Only when the mice eat at night, CKB can play a significant role and reach a peak, and the stronger the expression of CKB, the more energy expenditure. Conversely, mice fed during the day had disrupted CKB expression and decreased creatine levels, corresponding to impaired adipocyte thermogenesis, resulting in increased body weight.

Loss of creatine may also render TRF strategies ineffective, such as fat cells starved of creatine, which may lead to weight gain even when eating is synchronized with the circadian rhythm. However, as long as creatine was supplemented in the diet of these mice, adherence to TRF restored normal body weight and metabolism. This also suggests that creatine and TRF complement each other.

The review article states that “TRF may be a potential way to help us lose weight and improve metabolic health while reducing side effects.” If you want to try it, don’t just copy the research. Only eat at night, after all, humans are active during the day!


[1] The timing of eating controls energy use. Science (2022). DOI: 10.1126/science.ade6720

[2] Time-restricted feeding mitigates obesity through adipocyte thermogenesis. Science (2022). DOI: 10.1126/science.abl8007