Planning to shed weight? A recent study suggests that it's crucial to pay attention to your total calorie intake rather than the timing of your meals.

A recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that weight loss from time-restricted eating is nearly identical to traditional calorie counting. The study discovered that the total number of calories consumed throughout the day matters more than when those calories are consumed.

Time-restricted eating, also known as intermittent fasting, is a dietary approach centered around meal timing rather than calorie tracking. This method involves cycling between periods of fasting and eating, with popular protocols like the 16/8 method (fasting for 16 hours and eating during an eight-hour window) or the 14/10 method (a 14-hour fast followed by a 10-hour eating window). Apart from weight loss, studies have shown that it is linked to improved heart health, obesity, and diabetes.

For the latest study, the researchers from Johns Hopkins University used a randomized controlled trial involving 41 participants with obesity and prediabetes. The participants were either allocated to a time-restricted eating window of 10 hours or a group that followed calorie counts.

The total calorie requirement was estimated at the start of the study based on the participants' history and activity level, and the same calories were provided for all participants throughout the study. Both groups ate the meals with the same nutrient content and total calories.

While participants in the calorie count group ate between 8 a.m. and midnight, with the majority of the calorie intake during the evening, those in the calorie count group ate between 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and consumed most of their calories before 1 p.m. each day.

After three months, the researchers evaluated the participants to measure weight loss, alterations in fasting glucose levels, waist circumference, blood pressure, and lipid levels. They then noted that there were no significant differences in results between the two groups.

"In the setting of isocaloric eating, TRE (time-restricted eating) did not decrease weight or improve glucose homeostasis relative to a UEP, suggesting that any effects of TRE on weight in prior studies may be due to reductions in caloric intake," the researchers concluded.

The results indicate that any weight loss observed with time-restricted eating is probably attributable, at least in part, to a decrease in overall calorie consumption.