So Weighthackers, we all know that what we eat and how much we eat impacts our weight. Now there’s evidence that when we eat might also play a major role in how much weight we can lose, according to this study from Spain that followed 420 people over the course of 20 weeks.
Researchers divided the study participants into two groups: early-eaters who ate their lunch before 3 p.m. and late-eaters who (you guessed it) ate after 3 p.m. They used lunch because in Spain that’s the largest meal of the day, accounting for about 40% of a person’s average daily caloric intake.
Even though both groups consumed the same amount of calories each day, the late-eaters “lost significantly less weight than early-eaters, and displayed a much slower rate of weight-loss.” The late-eaters also ate less for breakfast, or in some cases nothing at all, and we already know that breakfast is an important meal of the day for those who want to lose weight.
“This study emphasizes that the timing of food intake itself may play a significant role in weight regulation” explains Marta Garaulet, PhD, professor of Physiology at the University of Murcia Spain, and lead author of the study. “Novel therapeutic strategies should incorporate not only the caloric intake and macronutrient distribution, as it is classically done, but also the timing of food.”
Interestingly, it didn’t seem to matter when people ate smaller meals or snacks, just what the timing of their main meal was.
Although this is anecdotal, I long ago made a conscious effort to shift the bulk of my eating earlier in the day, and for me it really paid off. I now eat a bigger breakfast than I used to (that also has a significant amount of protein in it) and I eat it as soon as I get up. I switched to a having slightly bigger lunch and then turned dinner into a lighter meal, with no snacking after that. On that schedule I found I naturally felt more full throughout the day and as a consequence ate less overall. Give it a try!