A new study has found that changing the time you eat your meals could be the key to reducing body fat.

The University of Surrey conducted the 10-week study on “time-restricted feeding” and found that there was a significant impact on body composition based on the timing of the meals.

During the research, participants did not have to follow a particular diet and could eat whatever they wanted as long as it was within a specific time frame.

The participants were split into two groups. The first group consisted of those who ate their meals as they normally would, while the second group was required to eat their breakfast 90 minutes later and their dinner 90 minutes earlier than normal.

Each participant also had to maintain a diary on their diet throughout the experiment and complete a questionnaire afterwards. They were also required to provide blood samples beforehand.

At the end of the study, it was found that those who ate within a specific time lost more than twice their body fat as compared to those who consumed their meals at normal timings.

Studying their questionnaires, it was found that 57 per cent of those who participated noticed a reduction in their food intake due to the restrictive time period in which they were allowed to eat.

However, more than half of the participants in the fasting group said they would not be able to maintain their restrictive eating window due to it being incompatible with their family and social lives.

“Although this study is small, it has provided us with invaluable insight into how slight alterations to our meal times can have benefits to our bodies,” The Independent quoted lead author Dr Jonathan Johnston, reader in chronobiology and integrative physiology at the University of Surrey, as explaining.

“Reduction in body fat lessens our chances of developing obesity and related diseases, so is vital in improving our overall health. However, as we have seen with these participants, fasting diets are difficult to follow and may not always be compatible with family and social life. We therefore need to make sure they are flexible and conducive to real life, as the potential benefits of such diets are clear to see.

“We are now going to use these preliminary findings to design larger, more comprehensive studies of time-restricted feeding,” he added.