We’ve all read about watching what we eat to help shed those pesky extra kilos, but now we’re being told to watch when we eat it too.
A study of more than 400 dieters found that those who ate an early lunch lost more weight when compared to their late-lunch counterparts.
“We should now seriously start to consider the timing of food – not just what we eat, but also when we eat,” the study’s co-author, Frank Scheer of Harvard medical School, told reporters.
While the research does not confirm that pushing your lunch up an hour in the day will guarantee extra weight loss, the Spanish study, published this week in the International Journal of Obesity, did find that eating times could play a role in how our body regulates weight.
The study participants were monitored over a 20-week period in nutrition clinics around southeast Spain and placed on a Mediterranean diet, in which 40 per cent of their total daily calories were consumed at lunch. Half of the 420 participants ate lunch before 3pm, and the other half after that time.
After moderating their food intake and exercise regimen, to ensure that the entire group ate a similar amount of food and burned a similar number of calories a day, early lunchtime eaters where found to have lost an average 2.3 kilos more than the late lunchers.
“Early eaters lost an average of 10 kilograms (22 lbs) – just over 11 percent of their starting weight – while late eaters dropped 7.7 kg (17 lb), or nine percent of their initial weight,” the findings revealed.
However, the times at which participants ate their first and last meals for the day weren’t found to have an impact on the dieter’s ultimate weight loss goal.
But researchers did admit that there were certain limitations to the study. For example, certain gene variants linked to obesity were more common in late lunchers and dieters had not been randomly assigned to the early and late lunch camps.
But before you bolt out of the home or office for an early lunch – keep in mind that a midday meal holds a different meaning among the population studied. While in Europe, the bulk of daily calories are consumed at lunchtime, in the US or here at home the most similar meal is likely to be dinner. In fact, previous American studies have shown that late night eating is associated with a higher overall obesity risk.
So what’s the message in all of this? Eat healthy, but choose your time wisely!
Have you found eating earlier to have made a major impact on your weight loss? Would you be willing to test their theory out? Share your thoughts in our comments section below, or join the discussion on our Facebook and Twitter pages.