Background

The ancient practice of fasting for healing and well-being is now a modern, evidence-based diet strategy for weight control and chronic disease management.Time-restricted feeding (TRF), a popular version of intermittent fasting, is the ad libitum consumption of food and beverage within a fixed time interval each day.Eating is restricted outside this time slot with the exception of non-caloric beverages.Since improvements in synaptic plasticity and neurogenesis have been associated with fasting regimens, this randomized trial investigated the impact of TRF on mood states of college students.

Methods

Participants were healthy, not on prescription medication, and reported <150 minutes of exercise weekly.Using a randomized, parallel-arm design, participants were stratified by gender, age, and weight, and randomized to either a ‘natural feeding’ group (CON, n=6; no change to typical eating pattern) or TRF group (n=5; food and beverage consumption restricted to a 6-h window:10am–4pm).Both groups ate foods of their choosing, and all participants tracked the hours that food consumption started and ended each day of the 4-week trial.

Results

Baseline characteristics did not differ between TRF and CON:age, 20.0±1.6 and 19.2±1.5 y; BMI, 22.7±0.5 and 23.6±2.9 kg/m2; METS, 69±29 and 94±32 kcal·kg-1wk-1.Furthermore, mood scores did not differ between groups at baseline.Although change in body weight after the 4-week trial did not differ between groups (-1.0±1.5 and +1.0±2.2 kg, TRF and CON respectively), the change in BMI was different between groups (-0.4±0.5 and +0.4±0.7 kg/m2, p=0.05).In addition, scores for total mood and anger fell significantly after the 4-week intervention in the TRF group vs. controls:change in POMS total score, -21.6±14.0 and -4.3±15.7, p=0.05; change in anger score, -4.2±2.3 and -0.8±3.7, p=0.05.

Conclusions

These preliminary data suggest that TRF is feasible for college students in the short-term and may improve mood states, particularly anger.