Eating every 4 hours may help you lose weight and prevent cancer.
Weight loss scale
Credit: Lee Harrelson

What we eat matters, but when we eat is just as important. Research has told us that eating every four hours helps our metabolism work better, controls blood sugar, and reacquaints us with our body's natural hunger and fullness signals. And now there appears to be another good reason to regulate your meal timing–eating every four hours actually decrease cancer tumor development.

According to the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), "meal anticipation" alone plays a role in breast cancer. In a study in which one group of rats was fed every day at the same four hour interval and a second group at random four hour intervals, the animals that could anticipate their meals every four hours had an increase in glucocorticoids, hormones that help direct glucose regulation. Studies have previously shown that an increase in glucocorticoids is positively connected with a decrease in tumor development. Also, only in the group that knew when their meals were coming (every four hours) did glucose decrease and insulin increase before each meal, preparing the rats' bodies to consume calories appropriately.

Why is this important? According to Dr. Deborah Clegg, one of the study researchers, if the body is not prepared to consume calories, "those calories are packaged away as fat". This new finding indicates that if meals can be eaten at regular intervals and your body can prepare for those meals, it subsequently leads to greater protection against cancer, and leaner bodies as a result, since calories will be used versus packaged away as body fat.

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Tammy Beasley, RD, CSSD, CEDRD is a registered, licensed dietitian, spinning instructor, and certified specialist in sports nutrition and eating disorders. She is the author of Rev It Up-The Lifestyle Diet That Puts You In The Driver's Seat.