Scheduled High-Fat Diets Prevents Obesity
Scheduled high fat diets can prevent obesity, Credit: Hebrew University

High-fat diets have always been linked to obesity, but a new study has found that scheduled high fat diets can prevent the condition, researchers from Hebrew University have found.

They claim that when high fat foods are given at a scheduled time, it helps the metabolism ingest fat and convert it into energy.

Usually, when people consume high fat food, most of the fat remains in the body and only some fat gets converted into energy.

The discovery was made while studying four groups of mice which were fed different diets. Researchers put one group of mice on a high-fat diet on a fixed schedule (eating at the same time and for the same length of time every day). The second group received low-fat diet on a fixed schedule; the third group was fed a low fat-diet at unscheduled timings and the fourth group was fed a high fat diet at unscheduled timings for 18 weeks.

Researchers then tested the weight of the mice. Mice on the scheduled high-fat diet had a lower final body weight than the mice eating an unscheduled high-fat diet. But surprisingly, the mice on the scheduled high-fat diet also had a lower final body weight than the mice that ate an unscheduled low-fat diet, even though both groups consumed the same amount of calories.

In addition, the mice on the scheduled high-fat diet exhibited a unique metabolic state in which the fats they ingested were not stored, but rather utilised for energy at times when no food was available, such as between meals.

Previous research had found that disrupting mammals' daily rhythms, or feeding them a high-fat diet, disrupts the metabolism leading to obesity. The researchers wanted to determine the effect of combining a high-fat diet with long-term feeding on a fixed schedule. They hypothesised that careful scheduling of meals would regulate the biological clock and reduce the effects of a high-fat diet that, under normal circumstances, would lead to obesity.

"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," said Oren Froy, researcher at the Hebrew University.