Meal times may affect weight loss success

Losing weight may not be just about WHAT you eat but WHEN you eat it, according to a new study. Participants in the study who ate a bigger meal later in the day lost less weight than those who ate earlier.

Study authors Marta Garaulet and Dr. Frank Scheer, director of the medical chronobiology program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, followed 420 people in Spain during a 20-week weight loss treatment program.

The participants were split into two groups – early eaters who ate lunch before 3 p.m. and late eaters who ate lunch after 3 p.m. In Spain, lunch is the biggest meal of the day, comprising about 40% of a person’s daily calories.

The early eaters, on average, lost 25% more weight than the late eaters over the course of the study, according to Scheer.

The study authors found no difference in the groups’ weight loss based on breakfast and dinner timing. They also looked at energy expenditure, dietary composition, appetite hormones and sleep duration. These factors were similar in both groups, leading the authors to conclude that the timing of the large meal was the source of the sluggish weight loss.

The study was published Tuesday in the International Journal of Obesity.

Behind the results

Did you know your fat tissue has a built-in clock? In fact, the majority of cells in your body run on a 24-hour schedule, Scheer says.

The combination of all these body clocks is called the circadian system, and it’s controlled by a group of cells in your brain’s hypothalamus. But the “clocks” in individual organs’ cells can be altered by daily activity that doesn’t affect the control center. Read More: Meal times could impact weight reduction success – The Chart – CNN.com Blogs.

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