Those of you wanting to shed some weight this summer might do well to be more mindful of the clock. A recent study suggests when you eat may be as important as what you eat.
Maggie Boyd is a registered dietitian with Parkland Hospital System. She says the research found that people who ate more calories earlier in the day tended to lose more weight that those who ate later in the day, regardless of how much they consumed.
On eating larger meals earlier in the day: If you’re eating during the eight hours of the day that you’re most active, you’re going to be burning those calories, as opposed to if you ate the majority of your calories right before bed and you laid down. You’re not going to be expending as much energy, and you may store more of those calories.
On eating a good breakfast: Bottom line: Start your day off with breakfast. If you start your day off with eating a good balanced meal, you’re going to have more energy throughout the day as opposed to if you skip breakfast. You end up getting those intense cravings later in the day because you didn’t feed yourself in the morning.
It’s really good to start your day with complex carbohydrates. Those are carbohydrates that take longer to digest, so they keep you fuller for longer. That’s going to be your whole grains, your oatmeal, whole wheat toast – any type of grain is going to be considered a complex carbohydrate.
On opting for eat lighter meals later in the day: The research suggested it, but it’s going to be an individual-by-individual basis — so based on when you’re exercising. Maybe when you work out in the morning, that’s when you need the most energy and calories. But if you do work out later in the day, maybe you need your calories around your work out to get you through it.
For more information
- High Caloric intake at breakfast vs. dinner differentially influences weight loss of overweight and obese women
- Timing of food intake predicts weight loss effectiveness
- Weight loss can be tied to when, not just what, you eat
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.