The Acute Effect of Meal Timing on the Gut Microbiome and the Cardiometabolic Health of the Host: A Crossover Randomized Control Trial
Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism
<b><i>Purpose:</i></b> The interaction of diet with gut microbiome has been implicated in the onset of cardiovascular disease. The gut microbiome displays diurnal rhythms, which may be influenced by meal timing. <b><i>Objective:</i></b> This study aimed to investigate the effect of the timing of main meal consumption on the microbiome and cardiometabolic biomarkers of the host. <b><i>Methods:</i></b> Seventeen healthy adults randomly consumed an isocaloric diet for 7 days, twice, by alternating
... ice, by alternating lunch with dinner meals, and with a 2-week washout in-between. Sixty percent of the participants' daily energy requirements was consumed either as lunch or dinner, respectively. Meals were provided free to the participants. All fecal samples produced the last 3 days of each intervention were collected and analyzed for microbial profiling (16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing), quantitative estimation of representative bacterial groups (qPCR) of the gut microbiome, and the output of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) in feces. Fasted blood samples were analyzed for low-grade inflammatory biomarkers, blood lipids, insulin, and glucose levels. Cumulative energy loss in feces was measured over the collection period using bomb calorimetry. <b><i>Results:</i></b> Meal timing had no significant effects on fecal SCFA output, energy loss in feces, microbial community profiling, and bacterial species relative abundance. The absolute concentration of <i>Escherichia coli</i> was significantly higher after the large lunch intervention (<i>p</i> = 0.02). No effects on blood biomarkers of cardiometabolic health were observed. <b><i>Conclusions:</i></b> In a well-controlled study, main meal timing displayed minimal acute effects on the gut microbiome composition, its diet-related function, and blood biomarkers of cardiometabolic health.