Meal timing effects on insulin sensitivity and intrahepatic triglycerides during weight loss

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Several human and rodent studies suggest that in addition to the amount of energy consumed, timing of food intake contributes to body weight regulation. Consuming most energy in the morning has favorable effects on weight loss and weight maintenance. Whether this also affects glucose metabolism and liver fat independently from weight loss is unknown.


We hypothesized that during weight loss, consuming most energy in the morning improves insulin sensitivity and reduces hepatic fat content more than consuming most energy in the evening.


Twenty-three obese insulin resistant men (age 59.9 ± 7.9 years, body mass index 34.4 ± 3.8 kg m− 2) followed a 4-week hypocaloric diet intervention with either 50% of daily energy consumed in the morning (BF group) or evening (D group). Insulin sensitivity, measured with a two-step hyperinsulinemic euglycemic clamp using a glucose tracer, intrahepatic triglycerides (IHTG), measured using magnetic resonance spectroscopy, and resting energy expenditure (REE) were assessed before and after the diet intervention.


Meal macronutrient composition and weight loss (6.5 ± 1.5% vs 6.2 ± 1.9%, respectively, P = 0.70) did not differ between the BF and D groups. Endogenous glucose production (P ≤ 0.001), hepatic and peripheral insulin sensitivity (P = 0.002; P = 0.001, respectively) as well as IHTG content (P ≤ 0.001) all significantly improved with weight loss, but were not different between the BF and D groups. In addition, both groups decreased REE and respiratory quotient equally.


During weight loss, consuming most energy in the morning instead of the evening does not have additional beneficial effects on insulin sensitivity and IHTG content. These results do not support weight independent effects of meal timing on glucose metabolism and IHTG in hypocaloric conditions in obese men.

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