Recent research suggests a planned high-fat diet can reduce body weight and spark a unique metabolism where ingested fats are stored and used for energy when food is not available.

Researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, led by Professors Oren Froy and Zecharia Madar, conducted a study with mice, and found that those with a scheduled high-fat diet had a lower body weight than mice on a low-fat diet with identical caloric intake.

Earlier research found that disrupting mammals’ daily eating schedules and feeding them a high-fat diet can interfere with their metabolism and cause weight gain. The body’s internal clock controls behavioral patterns, such as sleeping and eating, as well as the distribution and storage of energy and metabolism. Froy and team hypothesized that cautious scheduling of meals would regulate the biological clock, reducing the effects of a high-fat diet that normally cause weight gain.

The 18 week study, published in The FASEB Journal, separated mice into four groups:

  • High-fat fixed schedule group
  • Low-fat fixed schedule group
  • Low-fat unscheduled group
  • High-fat unscheduled group

All four groups gained weight during the study, with the highest weight gain found in the group eating the unscheduled high-fat diet. The mice on the scheduled high-fat diet finished with a lower body weight than those on the unscheduled high-fat diet. Amazingly, the ones on the scheduled high-fat diet also had a lower body weight than the mice on the unscheduled low-fat diet, despite identical caloric intake.

Likewise, the mice on the scheduled high-fat diet displayed a metabolic rate where fats were used for energy during times when food was not available, such as between meals.

Professor Froy concluded:

“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.”

Written by Kelly Fitzgerald