Time-restricted feeding improves adaptation to chronically alternating light-dark cycles

Sci Rep. 2019 May 27;9(1):7874. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-44398-7.


Disturbance of the circadian clock has been associated with increased risk of cardio-metabolic disorders. Previous studies showed that optimal timing of food intake can improve metabolic health. We hypothesized that time-restricted feeding could be a strategy to minimize long term adverse metabolic health effects of shift work and jetlag. In this study, we exposed female FVB mice to weekly alternating light-dark cycles (i.e. 12 h shifts) combined with ad libitum feeding, dark phase feeding or feeding at a fixed clock time, in the original dark phase. In contrast to our expectations, long-term disturbance of the circadian clock had only modest effects on metabolic parameters. Mice fed at a fixed time showed a delayed adaptation compared to ad libitum fed animals, in terms of the similarity in 24 h rhythm of core body temperature, in weeks when food was only available in the light phase. This was accompanied by increased plasma triglyceride levels and decreased energy expenditure, indicating a less favorable metabolic state. On the other hand, dark phase feeding accelerated adaptation of core body temperature and activity rhythms, however, did not improve the metabolic state of animals compared to ad libitum feeding. Taken together, restricting food intake to the active dark phase enhanced adaptation to shifts in the light-dark schedule, without significantly affecting metabolic parameters.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Temperature
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Fasting*
  • Female
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Lipids / blood
  • Metabolic Diseases / blood
  • Metabolic Diseases / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Photoperiod*


  • Lipids