New research suggests that in addition to balancing kilojoule intake with kilojoules burned to maintain a healthy weight, the timing of your meals may matter.
In a large-scale prospective study conducted by researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in collaboration with the University of Murcia and Tufts University, 420 overweight study participants who followed a 20-week weight loss programme were divided into two groups based on the timing of their main meal of the day (lunch in this particular population). Early-eaters were defined as those who ate lunch anytime before 3pm and late-eaters were defined as those who ate lunch after 3 pm.
Researchers found that late-eaters lost significantly less weight and had a slower rate of weight loss than the early-eaters. Late-eaters were also found to have a lower level of insulin sensitivity, a risk factor for diabetes. Although the timing of their other meals did not seem to play a significant role, late-eaters also consumed fewer kilojoules during breakfast or were more likely to skip breakfast altogether, which may have influenced their weight loss results.
It’s important to note that the researchers also looked at other factors that play a role in weight loss such as total kilojoule intake and expenditure, appetite hormones leptin and ghrelin, and hours of sleep in study subjects. Researchers found no significant differences among these factors, suggesting that the time at which a meal was consumed was an independent factor for successful weight loss.
Source: GNLD Lifestyle Magazine (West Africa 03/14)