CTSC Highly Innovative Award:
Effect of Time-Restricted Eating on Metabolic Health

Nutrition is often thought of as a two-dimensional parameter: what we eat and how much we eat. While we know that the efficiency of physiological processes controlling nutrient metabolism varies throughout the day, we do not fully understand whether meal timing (when we eat) affects our health. "Nutrition research for several decades has focused on the effects of nutrition quantity and quality in health," notes Maria Chondronikola, the principal investigator for a study on time-restricted eating and its impact on metabolic health in people at high risk for developing chronic disease. "In this pilot study, we focus on time." 

ChondronikolaMaria Chondronikola, Ph.D., RDN, an early-stage investigator, is an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition, and an emergent voice at the University of California, Davis, with an impressive depth of experience in nutrition and metabolism research. Her previous studies have focused on understanding the role of thermogenic adipose tissue in health and disease, the pathophysiology of obesity, and the role of diet composition in metabolic health. The pilot project supported by the CTSC Pilot Translational and Clinical Studies Program includes ten co-investigators from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Department of Nutrition, and School of Medicine Departments of Internal Medicine, Public Health Sciences, and Radiology. The project also includes a graduate student as a member of this new translational team.

Chondronikola's study looks at a nutritional intervention focused on improving metabolic health, which adds the dimension of time. The study addresses food consumption by participants, which is restricted to certain times of the day. The goal of this study is to elucidate the impact of time-restricted eating on weight-loss-independent outcomes, specifically on insulin sensitivity and its related effect on adipose tissue (fat) as well as skeletal muscle. As the study progresses, the effect of time-restricted eating on the regulation of metabolic function over the course of the daily metabolic cycle will also be measured.

The study began in November 2020 utilizing the CTSC Clinical Research Center, an outpatient clinic on the Sacramento campus available for patient-centered research. The CTSC supported Chondronikola in bringing the hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp procedure back to the clinic; a method considered the "gold-standard" for assessing insulin resistance.  Although the COVID-19 pandemic has caused some delays, early data from this study suggests that time-restricted eating may improve insulin sensitivity as well as body fat distribution even without weight loss. A unique aspect of this project is the use of total-body positron emission tomography (PET) imaging with the EXPLORER, which was designed by faculty at UC Davis. The investigators are utilizing total-body PET to assess brown adipose tissue volume and activity in parallel with glucose uptake in fat depots. The ability to image the entire body at one time and with an unprecedented level of sensitivity provides an important and innovative benefit for these studies.

The randomized controlled trial includes overweight or obese individuals who are at risk for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. This project established a multidisciplinary team to generate critical data on the metabolic effects of this nutritional intervention and using state-of-the-art methods. The results of this study may have a direct impact on the prevention and/or treatment of obesity and its related metabolic complications. 

If you are interested in participating in the study, go to https://studypages.com/s/a-study-of-time-restricted-eating-on-heart-health-metabolism-306499/.

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Title: The Effect of Time-Restricted Eating in Metabolic Health in People with Obesity and Prediabetes
Principal Investigator: Maria Chondronikola, Ph.D., RDN (Department of Nutrition, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences)
Co-Investigators: Baback Roshavaran, M.D., Prasanth Surampudi, M.D. (Department of Internal Medicine, School of Medicine), Nancy Kiem, Ph.D. (Department of Nutrition), Ramsey Badawi, Ph.D. (Department of Radiology, School of Medicine), Simon Cherry, Ph.D., (Department of Biomedical Engineering, College of Engineering, and Department of Radiology, School of Medicine), Guobao Wang, Ph.D. (Department of Radiology, School of Medicine), Johanna Chiu, Ph.D., Fawaz Haj, Ph.D., Carolyn Slupsky, Ph.D. (Departments of Nutrition and Food Science and Technology), and Heejung Bang, Ph.D. (Department of Public Health Sciences, School of Medicine)
Trainee: Shengje Zhu (Graduate Student)

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