(CNN)We have all heard the age-old weight loss advice to eat less and exercise more. But a number of recent studies suggest that the key to dieting success is not just in how many calories you eat, or don't, but in when you eat them.
One twist on the typical three-square-meals schedule that is gaining traction is fasting. A recent study found that avoiding food for 12 or 15 hours a day was associated with less weight gain over time and better control of blood sugar level, which could reduce diabetes risk.
However, the study was done in mice, and it is unclear whether people could benefit from limiting their hours of eating. "The really strong evidence is in rodent studies mostly where [timing calories] is a huge powerful predictor of overall metabolic health and chronic disease prevention," Patterson said.
Studies are starting to trickle in suggesting that fasting, as well as other strategies such as eating the bulk of your daily calories early in the day, could pay off in terms of weight loss.
"If you are interested in modest weight loss over time or better metabolic health, then this could be the way to go, [but] if you really want to lose a lot of weight fast then you're still going to have to cut way back on what you eat overall," Patterson said.
Learn more at http://www.cnn.com/2015/06/22/health/when-you-eat/
This article was originally published on CNN.com