The first large scale study to demonstrate that the timing of meals predicts weight loss effectiveness was presented by researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH), in collaboration with the University of Murcia and Tufts University, in the International Journal of Obesity on Jan. 29, 2013.
To evaluate the role of food timing in weight loss effectiveness, the researchers studied 420 overweight study participants who followed a 20 week weight loss treatment program in Spain. The participants were divided into two groups: early eaters and late eaters, according to the self selected timing of the main meal, which in this Mediterranean population was lunch. During this meal, 40 percent of the total daily calories are consumed. Early eaters ate lunch anytime before 3:00 p.m. and late eaters, after 3:00 p.m. They found that late eaters lost significantly less weight than early-eaters, and displayed a much slower rate of weight loss. Late eaters also had a lower estimated insulin sensitivity, a risk factor for diabetes.
The timing of smaller meals or snacks during the day was found to have little impact on weight loss and those people that either ate a small breakfast or skipped breakfast were less likely to lose weight.
The timing of meals is an important and independent factor in weight loss success. For New Years resolution dieters in the United States the take home message is to eat breakfast early (before 8:00 a.m.) and eat lunch by noon. Eat an early dinner.
The research was reviewed at the Eureka Alert website the date of publication.