Struggling with Weight? Consider the Timing of Your Meals

by | Oct 3, 2019 | Weight loss

When you’re trying to lose weight, it’s easy to get so focused on what you eat and how much (or little you eat) that you overlook the matter of how you eat.

alarm clock on table settingTake something as simple as keeping regular meal times. While it can be tempting to skip meals so you eat less over all, research suggests that eating at regular times each day may actually help prevent weight gain, regardless of the amount eaten.

Eating more randomly, on the other hand, may “accelerate getting fatter.”

Other research suggests that the timing of those meals can make a difference, as well – research such as the small but compelling study recently published in the journal Obesity.

The group of 11 overweight but healthy adults practiced eating according to two different schedules, one control and one test. The control schedule involved eating 3 meals a day over 12 hours, with breakfast at 8am and dinner at 8pm. The test schedule involved eating 3 meals a day over just 6 hours, with breakfast at 8am and dinner at 2pm. The other 18 hours of the day, they fasted.

Participants were randomly assigned to one schedule or the other. The same amounts and types of food were available to all. After four days, their metabolism was checked, and the research team found some pretty interesting differences.

Those who ate dinner early and fasted for 18 hours a day experienced reduced appetite and desire to eat while also controlling feelings of hunger. More, the intermittent fasting appeared to make it easier for their bodies to switch from burning carbs for energy to burning fat.

Of course, many of us tend to eat on a very different schedule – skipping breakfast in our morning rush, eating our biggest meal in the evening, snacking at night. It’s a schedule completely out of sync with our circadian rhythms, and that may be yet another reason why weight is such a struggle for so many.

Consider one study which compared eating in a more circadian-compatible way compared to the usual way of eating. Nearly 100 overweight women with metabolic syndrome were split into two groups. Both groups ate the same amount of food each day, but they ate it in different ways. One group had 700 calories at breakfast, 500 at lunch, and 200 at dinner. The other group reversed that, starting the day with the smallest meal and ending with the biggest.

While all lost weight and had improved metabolic profiles, after 12 weeks, those in the big breakfast group lost more – and reduced their waistline more – than those who had their biggest meal at the end of the day.

scale with footprints on itAnother study split participants into two groups. Both could eat whatever they wanted and how much they wanted. But one group was instructed to eat breakfast 90 minutes later and dinner 90 minutes earlier than usual, while the other was told to eat at the usual times. Before and during the 10-week test period, they were asked to provide blood samples and food diaries.

The researchers found that those who ate on the altered schedule ate less than the others and lost body fat accordingly – again, despite being able to eat freely throughout the course of the study.

The only downside? Most of the participants said that they would find it hard to keep up the altered eating schedule beyond the 10 weeks of the study, finding it incompatible with family and social life.

Of course, any kind of dietary plan – whether for weight loss or health in general – usually requires us to make some changes to make it fit among the other demands and responsibilities in our lives.

It’s also important to remember that while diet and physical activity are the foundation of weight management, there are other factors that can contribute to obesity, as well. These include hormonal imbalance, gut health, chronic stress, sleep debt, prescription drugs, environmental toxins, and more.

This is why, in our West LA clinic, we offer a number of weight loss solutions, from the simplest nutritional management to the HCG diet, and plenty of options in between. Dr. Joe is happy to work with you to develop an individualized wellness plan to address the specific causes of your weight struggles and help you drop the excess fat.

When medicine is truly personalized, great things can happen.

And there’s no better time to get started than now, as we’ve extended our current patient special to October 15: Simply purchase 5 sessions of any single service and get the 6th for free! You don’t need to complete all those appointments before the 15th, but you do need to claim the offer by then. So give us a call today!

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