Will an earlier lunchtime help you lose weight?
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Eating times may play a role in how body weight is regulated.
WHAT WE KNOW
You may be familiar with the notion that eating late will cause you to gain more weight. However, the time of day does not change the caloric content of foods. For instance, eating a candy bar still contributes the same amount of calories whether it’s eaten at 12 p.m. or 3 p.m. What may change throughout the day, however, is how your body handles certain nutrients. New research is being conducted to determine whether or not eating late affects weight loss.
HOW DO WE KNOW THIS?
A study divided 510 participants into two groups: early eaters (51%) or late eaters (49%). This was according to the time of day they ate their main meal, which was lunch. Early eaters ate lunch before 3 p.m. and late eaters ate lunch after 3 p.m. Participants followed a Mediterranean diet. They weighed, measured and recorded their food intake and reported their daily physical activity for a period of 20 weeks. Researchers found both types of eaters ate similar amounts of food and burned about the same amount of calories per day. The early eaters lost an average of 22 pounds (11% of their starting weight) where the late eaters lost an average of 17 pounds (9% of their starting weight). The time of breakfast and dinner did not affect the results.*
If you exceed the number of calories your body requires to maintain its weight, you will gain weight regardless of when you consume those calories. It’s important to begin your day with a hearty and satisfying breakfast, such as our Banana Split Oatmeal. If you skip breakfast and/or lunch, you may shift your caloric intake to later in the day, resulting in overeating at night. Try to consume your meals regularly throughout the day, rather than sitting down to one large meal at night. This way, you’ll be less likely to overeat. Here are some more tips to help spread your calories throughout the day …
Plan your meals ahead of time. If you know you’ll be stuck in a meeting from noon to 3 p.m., pack a light lunch and a mid-afternoon snack. This way you’ll have energy to last through the afternoon, and a satisfying snack for afterward.
Eat nutrient-dense snacks between meals. Nuts, fruits, and vegetables are great healthy snacks that will help you feel less hungry. Try our Very Veggie Snack Pizza!
Satisfy your sweet tooth! If you have a sweet tooth after a meal, reach for something healthy, like fruit or low-fat frozen yogurt.
*Garaulet, M., P. Gomez-Abellan, J.J. Alburquerque-Beja, et al. “Timing of Food Intake Predicts Weight Loss Effectiveness.” International Journal of Obesity (2013): n. pag. Print.