The best way to lose pounds and keep them off may depend on when you eat, as well as what—and how much—you eat.
A new study published in the journal Obesity found that women assigned to a weight loss diet of 1,400 calories per day lost nearly 2 ½ times more pounds by eating more of their calories earlier in the day, compared to women following the same diet, albeit with more of their calories later in the day.
While total calories are still very important for losing weight, mounting scientific evidence suggests that eating too many calories at night or later in the day may lead to weight gain and body fat storage and increased hunger. Researchers suggest that the underlying link between the timing of when we eat and body weight is tied to circadian rhythms that control hormones that help to control blood sugar levels, insulin and storing excess calories as fat.
The role of meal timing may be why people who skip breakfast tend to be more likely to be overweight. It’s also thought to play a role in why shift workers, those suffering from jet lag or sleep disorders are more likely to be overweight or obese.
A study in the journal Obesity randomly assigned 93 overweight or obese women with metabolic syndrome into one of two 1,400-calorie diets. The diets were exactly the same except one group ate a small breakfast and big dinner (200-calorie breakfast, 500-calorie lunch and a 700-calorie dinner) and the other group ate a large breakfast and smaller meals throughout the day (700-calorie breakfast, 500-calorie lunch and 200-calorie dinner).
Results? Those eating a large breakfast lost nearly 19 pounds compared to 8 in the small breakfast group. The big breakfast eaters also lost 3.3 inches from their waistlines compared to 1.5 inches in the big dinner group. In addition, hunger, blood sugar, insulin and blood fats were improved among the hearty breakfast eaters.
In another study, published in the International Journal of Obesity, subjects assigned to a late-eating schedule, lost weight at a slower rate compared to subjects consuming an equivalent diet, albeit with more calories early in the day. Those who ate a higher percentage of their calories later in the day lost weight at a slower rate compared to those eating the same number of calories but with more of their calories eaten earlier.
Researchers believe that the human body is designed to metabolize the majority of one’s calories earlier in the day and that insulin sensitivity and blood sugar tolerances decrease during the day, so that eating a lot of calories later in the evening may cause spikes in blood sugar and fats after eating.
For a bigger weight loss advantage, new research also shows that getting some form of exposure to natural morning light can also enhance your natural body clock to optimize hormones that control your hunger.
This Helpful Article is Shared By:
Julie Upton, M.S., R.D., CSSD, Appetite for Health
Co-Author, 101 Fat Habits & Slim Solutions (Penguin, 2013)
Jakubowicz D1, Barnea M, Wainstein J, Froy O. High Caloric intake at breakfast vs. dinner differentially influences weight loss of overweight and obese women. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2013 Dec;21(12):2504-12. doi: 10.1002/oby.20460. Epub 2013 Jul 2.