The quality and quantity of nutrition impact health. However, chrononutrition, the timing, and variation of food intake in relation to the daily sleep-wake cycle are also important contributors to health. This has necessitated an urgent need to measure, analyze, and optimize eating patterns to improve health and manage disease. While written food journals, questionnaires, and 24-hour dietary recalls are acceptable methods to assess the quantity and quality of energy consumption, they are insufficient to capture the timing and day-to-day variation of energy intake. Smartphone applications are novel methods for information-dense real-time food and beverage tracking. Despite the availability of thousands of commercial nutrient apps, they almost always ignore eating patterns, and the raw real-time data is not available to researchers for monitoring and intervening in eating patterns. Our lab developed a smartphone app called myCircadianClock (mCC) and associated software to enable long-term real-time logging that captures temporal components of eating patterns. The mCC app runs on iOS and android operating systems and can be used to track multiple cohorts in parallel studies. The logging burden is decreased by using a timestamped photo and annotation of the food/beverage being logged. Capturing temporal data of consumption in free-living individuals over weeks/months has provided new insights into diverse eating patterns in the real world. This review discusses (1) chrononutrition and the importance of understanding eating patterns, (2) the myCircadianClock app, (3) validation of the mCC app, (4) clinical trials to assess the timing of energy intake, and (5) strengths and limitations of the mCC app.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $9.92 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
Kant AK, Graubard BI. 40-year trends in meal and snack eating behaviors of American adults. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2015;115:50–63.
Maury E. Off the clock: from circadian disruption to metabolic disease. Int J Mol Sci. 2019;20:1597
Bass J, Takahashi JS. Circadian integration of metabolism and energetics. Science. 2010;330:1349–54.
Garaulet M, Ordovás JM, Madrid JA. The chronobiology, etiology and pathophysiology of obesity. Int J Obes. 2010;34:1667–83.
Pot GK, Almoosawi S, Stephen AM. Meal irregularity and cardiometabolic consequences: results from observational and intervention studies. Proc Nutr Soc. 2016;75:475–86.
Abbott SM, Zee PC. Circadian rhythms: implications for health and disease. Neurol Clin. 2019;37:601–13.
Damiola F, Le Minh N, Preitner N, Kornmann B, Fleury-Olela F, Schibler U. Restricted feeding uncouples circadian oscillators in peripheral tissues from the central pacemaker in the suprachiasmatic nucleus. Genes Dev. 2000;14:2950–61.
Lopez-Minguez J, Gómez-Abellán P, Garaulet M. Timing of breakfast, lunch, and dinner. effects on obesity and metabolic risk. Nutrients. 2019;11:11.
Hatori M, Vollmers C, Zarrinpar A, DiTacchio L, Bushong EA, Gill S, et al. Time-restricted feeding without reducing caloric intake prevents metabolic diseases in mice fed a high-fat diet. Cell Metab. 2012;15:848–60.
Poggiogalle E, Jamshed H, Peterson CM. Circadian regulation of glucose, lipid, and energy metabolism in humans. Metabolism. 2018;84:11–27.
Mistlberger RE Food as circadian time cue for appetitive behavior. F1000Res. 2020;9:61.
Bi H, Gan Y, Yang C, Chen Y, Tong X, Lu Z. Breakfast skipping and the risk of type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis of observational studies. Public Health Nutr. 2015;18:3013–9.
Ma X, Chen Q, Pu Y, Guo M, Jiang Z, Huang W, et al. Skipping breakfast is associated with overweight and obesity: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Obes Res Clin Pract. 2020;14:1–8.
McHill AW, Czeisler CA, Phillips AJK, Keating L, Barger LK, Garaulet M, et al. Caloric and macronutrient intake differ with Circadian phase and between lean and overweight young adults. Nutrients. 2019;11:587.
Panda S. Circadian physiology of metabolism. Science. 2016;354:1008–15.
Savikj M, Gabriel BM, Alm PS, Smith J, Caidahl K, Bjornholm M, et al. Afternoon exercise is more efficacious than morning exercise at improving blood glucose levels in individuals with type 2 diabetes: a randomised crossover trial. Diabetologia. 2019;62:233–7.
Mancilla R, Krook A, Schrauwen P, Hesselink MKC. Diurnal regulation of peripheral glucose metabolism: potential effects of exercise timing. Obesity. 2020;28:S38–S45. Suppl 1.
Ogilvie RP, Lutsey PL, Widome R, Laska MN, Larson N, Neumark-Sztainer D. Sleep indices and eating behaviours in young adults: findings from Project EAT. Public Health Nutr. 2018;21:689–701.
Marinac CR, Sears DD, Natarajan L, Gallo LC, Breen CI, Patterson RE. Frequency and circadian timing of eating may influence biomarkers of inflammation and insulin resistance associated with breast cancer risk. PLoS One. 2015;10:e0136240.
Marinac CR, Natarajan L, Sears DD, Gallo LC, Hartman SJ, Arredondo E, et al. Prolonged nightly fasting and breast cancer risk: findings from NHANES (2009-2010). Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2015;24:783–9.
Currenti W, Godos J, Castellano S, Caruso G, Ferri R, Caraci F, et al. Association between time restricted feeding and cognitive status in older Itaflian adults. Nutrients. 2021;13:191.
Chaix A, Manoogian ENC, Melkani GC, Panda S. Time-restricted eating to prevent and manage chronic metabolic diseases. Annu Rev Nutr. 2019;39:291–315.
St-Onge MP, Ard J, Baskin ML, Chiuve SE, Johnson HM, Kris-Etherton P, et al. Meal timing and frequency: implications for cardiovascular disease prevention: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2017;135:e96–e121.
Gabel K, Hoddy KK, Haggerty N, Song J, Kroeger CM, Trepanowski JF, et al. Effects of 8-hour time restricted feeding on body weight and metabolic disease risk factors in obese adults: a pilot study. Nutr Healthy Aging. 2018;4:345–53.
Manoogian ENC, Chaix A, Panda S. When to eat: the importance of eating patterns in health and disease. J Biol Rhythms. 2019;34:579–81.
Cahill LE, Chiuve SE, Mekary RA, Jensen MK, Flint AJ, Hu FB, et al. Prospective study of breakfast eating and incident coronary heart disease in a cohort of male US health professionals. Circulation. 2013;128:337–43.
Chaix A, Zarrinpar A, Miu P, Panda S. Time-restricted feeding is a preventative and therapeutic intervention against diverse nutritional challenges. Cell Metab. 2014;20:991–1005.
Melkani GC, Panda S. Time-restricted feeding for prevention and treatment of cardiometabolic disorders. J Physiol. 2017;595:3691–700.
Sutton EF, Beyl R, Early KS, Cefalu WT, Ravussin E, Peterson CM. Early time-restricted feeding improves insulin sensitivity, blood pressure, and oxidative stress even without weight loss in men with prediabetes. Cell Metab. 2018;27:1212–21 e3.
Wilkinson MJ, Manoogian ENC, Zadourian A, Lo H, Fakhouri S, Shoghi A, et al. Ten-hour time-restricted eating reduces weight, blood pressure, and atherogenic lipids in patients with metabolic syndrome. Cell Metab. 2020;31:92–104.
Zarrinpar A, Chaix A, Panda S. Daily eating patterns and their impact on health and disease. Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2016;27:69–83.
Gill S, Panda S. A smartphone app reveals erratic diurnal eating patterns in humans that can be modulated for health benefits. Cell Metab. 2015;22:789–98.
Gabel K, Marcell J, Cares K, Kalam F, Cienfuegos S, Ezpeleta M, et al. Effect of time restricted feeding on the gut microbiome in adults with obesity: a pilot study. Nutr Health. 2020;26:79–85.
Hutchison AT, Regmi P, Manoogian ENC, Fleischer JG, Wittert GA, Panda S, et al. Time-restricted feeding improves glucose tolerance in men at risk for Type 2 diabetes: a randomized crossover trial. Obesity. 2019;27:724–32.
Chow LS, Manoogian ENC, Alvear A, Fleischer JG, Thor H, Dietsche K, et al. Time-restricted eating effects on body composition and metabolic measures in humans who are overweight: a feasibility study. Obesity. 2020;28:860–9.
Anton SD, Lee SA, Donahoo WT, McLaren C, Manini T, Leeuwenburgh C, et al. The effects of time restricted feeding on overweight, older adults: a pilot study. Nutrients. 2019;11:1500.
Parr EB, Devlin BL, Radford BE, Hawley JA A delayed morning and earlier evening time-restricted feeding protocol for improving glycemic control and dietary adherence in men with overweight/obesity: a randomized controlled trial. Nutrients. 2020;12:505.
Parr EB, Devlin BL, Lim KHC, Moresi LNZ, Geils C, Brennan L, et al. Time-restricted eating as a nutrition strategy for individuals with Type 2 diabetes: a feasibility study. Nutrients. 2020;12:3228.
Kesztyüs D, Cermak P, Gulich M, Kesztyüs T Adherence to time-restricted feeding and impact on abdominal obesity in primary care patients: results of a pilot study in a pre-post design. Nutrients. 2019;11:2854.
McAllister MJ, Pigg BL, Renteria LI, Waldman HS. Time-restricted feeding improves markers of cardiometabolic health in physically active college-age men: a 4-week randomized pre-post pilot study. Nutr Res. 2020;75:32–43.
Zeb F, Wu X, Chen L, Fatima S, Haq IU, Chen A, et al. Effect of time-restricted feeding on metabolic risk and circadian rhythm associated with gut microbiome in healthy males. Br J Nutr. 2020;123:1216–26.
Martens CR, Rossman MJ, Mazzo MR, Jankowski LR, Nagy EE, Denman BA, et al. Short-term time-restricted feeding is safe and feasible in non-obese healthy midlife and older adults. Geroscience. 2020;42:667–86.
Kim H, Jang BJ, Jung AR, Kim J, Ju HJ, Kim YI The impact of time-restricted diet on sleep and metabolism in obese volunteers. Medicina. 2020;56:540.
Moro T, Tinsley G, Longo G, Grigoletto D, Bianco A, Ferraris C, et al. Time-restricted eating effects on performance, immune function, and body composition in elite cyclists: a randomized controlled trial. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2020;17:65.
Schroder JD, Falqueto H, Mânica A, Zanini D, de Oliveira T, de Sá CA, et al. Effects of time-restricted feeding in weight loss, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular risk in obese women. J Transl Med. 2021;19:3.
Peeke PM, Greenway FL, Billes SK, Zhang D, Fujioka K. Effect of time restricted eating on body weight and fasting glucose in participants with obesity: results of a randomized, controlled, virtual clinical trial. Nutr Diabetes. 2021;11:6.
Jakubowicz D, Barnea M, Wainstein J, Froy O. High caloric intake at breakfast vs. dinner differentially influences weight loss of overweight and obese women. Obesity. 2013;21:2504–12.
Jakubowicz D, Landau Z, Tsameret S, Wainstein J, Raz I, Ahren B, et al. Reduction in glycated hemoglobin and daily insulin dose alongside Circadian clock upregulation in patients with Type 2 diabetes consuming a three-meal diet: a randomized clinical trial. Diabetes Care. 2019;42:2171–80.
Bellisle F, Dalix AM, Mennen L, Galan P, Hercberg S, de Castro JM, et al. Contribution of snacks and meals in the diet of French adults: a diet-diary study. Physiol Behav. 2003;79:183–9.
Leech RM, Worsley A, Timperio A, McNaughton SA. Understanding meal patterns: definitions, methodology and impact on nutrient intake and diet quality. Nutr Res Rev. 2015;28:1–21.
Hess JM, Jonnalagadda SS, Slavin JL. What is a snack, why do we snack, and how can we choose better snacks? A review of the definitions of snacking, motivations to snack, contributions to dietary intake, and recommendations for improvement. Adv Nutr. 2016;7:466–75.
Kohsaka A, Laposky AD, Ramsey KM, Estrada C, Joshu C, Kobayashi Y, et al. High-fat diet disrupts behavioral and molecular circadian rhythms in mice. (1550-4131 (Print)).
Wang HB, Loh DH, Whittaker DS, Cutler T, Howland D, Colwell CS Time-restricted feeding improves Circadian dysfunction as well as Motor symptoms in the Q175 Mouse Model of Huntington’s disease. eNeuro. 2018;5:ENEURO.0431-17.2017.
Yamamuro D, Takahashi M, Nagashima S, Wakabayashi T, Yamazaki H, Takei A, et al. Peripheral circadian rhythms in the liver and white adipose tissue of mice are attenuated by constant light and restored by time-restricted feeding. PLoS ONE. 2020;15:e0234439.
Chung H, Chou W, Sears DD, Patterson RE, Webster NJ, Ellies LG. Time-restricted feeding improves insulin resistance and hepatic steatosis in a mouse model of postmenopausal obesity. Metabolism. 2016;65:1743–54.
Sherman H, Genzer Y, Cohen R, Chapnik N, Madar Z, Froy O. Timed high-fat diet resets circadian metabolism and prevents obesity. FASEB J. 2012;26:3493–502.
Mattson MP, Allison DB, Fontana L, Harvie M, Longo VD, Malaisse WJ, et al. Meal frequency and timing in health and disease. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014;111:16647–53.
Gill S, Le HD, Melkani GC, Panda S. Time-restricted feeding attenuates age-related cardiac decline in Drosophila. Science. 2015;347:1265–9.
Phillips, EN, Mareschal J, Schwab N, Manoogian ENC, Borloz S, et al. The effects of time-restricted eating versus standard dietary advice on weight, metabolic health and the consumption of processed food: a pragmatic randomised controlled trial in community-based adults. Nutrients. 2021;13:1042.
Kant AK, Graubard BI. Secular trends in patterns of self-reported food consumption of adult Americans: NHANES 1971-1975 to NHANES 1999-2002. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006;84:1215–23.
Wittmann M, Dinich J, Merrow M, Roenneberg T. Social jetlag: misalignment of biological and social time. Chronobiol Int. 2006;23:497–509.
Fontana JM, Farooq M, Sazonov E. Automatic ingestion monitor: a novel wearable device for monitoring of ingestive behavior. IEEE Trans Biomed Eng. 2014;61:1772–9.
Farooq M, Doulah A, Parton J, McCrory MA, Higgins JA, Sazonov E Validation of sensor-based food intake detection by multicamera video observation in an unconstrained environment. Nutrients. 2019;11:609.
Cienfuegos S, Gabel K, Kalam F, Ezpeleta M, Pavlou V, Varady KA. Weight loss efficacy of 4-hour versus 6-hour time restricted feeding in adults with obesity. Curr Dev Nutr. 2020;4:584
Tinsley GM, Forsse JS, Butler NK, Paoli A, Bane AA, La Bounty PM, et al. Time-restricted feeding in young men performing resistance training: a randomized controlled trial. Eur J Sport Sci. 2017;17:200–7.
Moro T, Tinsley G, Bianco A, Marcolin G, Pacelli QF, Battaglia G, et al. Effects of eight weeks of time-restricted feeding (16/8) on basal metabolism, maximal strength, body composition, inflammation, and cardiovascular risk factors in resistance-trained males. J Transl Med. 2016;14:290
LeCheminant JD, Christenson E, Bailey BW, Tucker LA. Restricting night-time eating reduces daily energy intake in healthy young men: a short-term cross-over study. Br J Nutr. 2013;110:2108–13.
Antoni R, Robertson TM, Robertson MD, Johnston JD A pilot feasibility study exploring the effects of a moderate time-restricted feeding intervention on energy intake, adiposity and metabolic physiology in free-living human subjects. J Nutr Sci. 2018;7:e22.
Jamshed H, Beyl RA, Della Manna DL, Yang ES, Ravussin E, Peterson CM Early time-restricted feeding improves 24-hour glucose levels and affects markers of the Circadian clock, aging, and autophagy in humans. Nutrients. 2019;11:1234.
Lowe DA, Wu N, Rohdin-Bibby L, Moore AH, Kelly N, Liu YE, et al. Effects of time-restricted eating on weight loss and other metabolic parameters in women and men with overweight and obesity: the TREAT randomized clinical trial. JAMA Intern Med. 2020;180:1–9.
McAllister MJ, Gonzalez AE, Waldman HS Impact of time restricted feeding on markers of cardiometabolic health and oxidative stress in resistance-trained firefighters. J Strength Cond. Res. 2020.
Przulj D, Ladmore D, Smith KM, Phillips-Waller A, Hajek P. Time restricted eating as a weight loss intervention in adults with obesity. PLoS One. 2021;16:e0246186.
Domaszewski P, Konieczny M, Pakosz P, Bączkowicz D, Sadowska-Krępa E Effect of a six-week intermittent fasting intervention program on the composition of the human body in women over 60 years of age. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020;17:4138.
Jones R, Pabla P, Mallinson J, Nixon A, Taylor T, Bennett A, et al. Two weeks of early time-restricted feeding (eTRF) improves skeletal muscle insulin and anabolic sensitivity in healthy men. Am J Clin Nutr. 2020;112:1015–28.
Kesztyüs D, Vorwieger E, Schönsteiner D, Gulich M, Kesztyüs T Applicability of time-restricted eating for the prevention of lifestyle-dependent diseases in a working population: results of a pilot study in a pre-post design. Ger Med Sci. 2021;19:Doc04.
Pureza I, Melo ISV, Macena ML, Praxedes DRS, Vasconcelos LGL, Silva-Júnior AE, et al. Acute effects of time-restricted feeding in low-income women with obesity placed on hypoenergetic diets: randomized trial. Nutrition. 2020;77:110796.
Li C, Xing C, Zhang J, Zhao H, Shi W, He B. Eight-hour time-restricted feeding improves endocrine and metabolic profiles in women with anovulatory polycystic ovary syndrome. J Transl Med. 2021;19:148.
Prasad M, Fine K, Gee A, Nair N, Popp CJ, Cheng B, et al. A smartphone intervention to promote time restricted eating reduces body weight and blood pressure in adults with overweight and obesity: a pilot Study. Nutrients. 2021;13:2148.
Brady AJ, Langton HM, Mulligan M, Egan B. Effects of 8 wk of 16:8 time-restricted eating in male middle- and long-distance runners. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2021;53:633–42.
Huang AW, Wei M, Caputo S, Wilson ML, Antoun J, Hsu WC An intermittent fasting mimicking nutrition bar extends physiologic ketosis in time restricted eating: a randomized, controlled, parallel-arm study. Nutrients. 2021;13:1523.
Bjerre N, Holm L, Quist JS, Færch K, Hempler NF. Watching, keeping and squeezing time to lose weight: implications of time-restricted eating in daily life. Appetite. 2021;161:105138.
de Oliveira Maranhão Pureza IR, da Silva Junior AE, Silva Praxedes DR, Lessa Vasconcelos LG, de Lima Macena M, Vieira de Melo IS, et al. Effects of time-restricted feeding on body weight, body composition and vital signs in low-income women with obesity: a 12-month randomized clinical trial. Clin Nutr. 2021;40:759–66.
Kesztyüs D, Fuchs M, Cermak P, Kesztyüs T. Associations of time-restricted eating with health-related quality of life and sleep in adults: a secondary analysis of two pre-post pilot studies. BMC Nutr. 2020;6:76.
Tinsley GM, Moore ML, Graybeal AJ, Paoli A, Kim Y, Gonzales JU, et al. Time-restricted feeding plus resistance training in active females: a randomized trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2019;110:628–40.
Malaeb S, Harindhanavudhi T, Dietsche K, Esch N, Manoogian ENC, Panda S, et al. Time-restricted eating alters food intake patterns, as prospectively documented by a smartphone application. Nutrients. 2020;12:3396.
Lobene AJ, Panda S, Mashek DG, Manoogian ENC, Hill Gallant KM, Chow LS Time-restricted eating for 12 weeks does not adversely alter bone turnover in overweight adults. Nutrients. 2021;13:1155.
Crose A, Alvear A, Singroy S, Wang Q, Manoogian E, Panda S, et al. Time-restricted eating improves quality of life measures in overweight humans. Nutrients. 2021;13:1430.
Gupta NJ, Kumar V, Panda S. A camera-phone based study reveals erratic eating pattern and disrupted daily eating-fasting cycle among adults in India. PLoS ONE. 2017;12:e0172852.
Kosmadopoulos A, Kervezee L, Boudreau P, Gonzales-Aste F, Vujovic N, Scheer F, et al. Effects of shift work on the eating behavior of police officers on patrol. Nutrients. 2020;12:999.
McHill AW, Phillips AJ, Czeisler CA, Keating L, Yee K, Barger LK, et al. Later circadian timing of food intake is associated with increased body fat. Am J Clin Nutr. 2017;106:1213–9.
ENCM is supported by the Larry L. Hillblom Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship. SP is supported by NIH grant DK118278, DK124484, AG065569, the Department of Homeland Security (EMW-2016-FP-00788), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (76014), and William Doner Foundation.
Conflict of interest
Dr. Panda is the Author of The Circadian Code and The Circadian Diabetes Code, for which he collects a nominal author royalty.
Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Manoogian, E.N.C., Wei-Shatzel, J. & Panda, S. Assessing temporal eating pattern in free living humans through the myCircadianClock app. Int J Obes 46, 696–706 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41366-021-01038-3