The proliferation in the rate of diagnosis of obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus continues unabated, with current recommendations for primary lifestyle changes (i.e. modification to dietary patterns) having a limited impact in reducing the incidence of these metabolic diseases. Part of the reason for the failure to alter nutritional practices is that current dietary recommendations may be unrealistic for the majority of adults. Indeed, round-the-clock access to energy-dense, nutrient-poor food makes long-term changes to dietary habits challenging. Hence, there is urgent need for innovations in the delivery of evidence-based diet interventions to rescue some of the deleterious effects on circadian biology induced by our modern-day lifestyle. With the growing appreciation that the duration over which food is consumed during a day has profound effects on numerous physiological and metabolic processes, we discuss dietary protocols that modify the timing of food intake to deliberately alter the feeding-fasting cycle. Such chrono-nutrition functions to optimise metabolism by timing nutrient intake to the acrophases of metabolic rhythms to improve whole-body insulin sensitivity and glycaemic control, and thereby positively impact metabolic health. Graphical abstract.