Can earlier meals help weight loss?

1,400 divided by 3

A similar effect was seen in another 2013 study of women with metabolic syndrome. Participants consumed 1,400 calories per day to promote weight loss (under medical supervision).

In this study, one group of women ate 700 calories for breakfast, 500 calories for lunch, and 200 calories for dinner. The second group ate 200 calories for breakfast, 500 calories for lunch, and 700 calories for dinner.

Researchers found that the women who ate more calories earlier in the day showed greater weight loss, reduction in waist circumference, and lowering of triglyceride levels than the women who ate more calories later in the day. Also, the group that ate more calories earlier in the day reported higher levels of “feeling full.”

Think about not just what you eat but when

Veggie clock

Nutritionists and diet book authors focus, by and large, on the food we eat. And rightly so: When it comes to losing weight, what we put in our bodies is a crucial factor. But when we choose to eat that food also has an impact on how our bodies will process it.

“It sounds too good to be true, but studies show that eating meals and snacks at the right time of day may be a simple yet critical strategy for weight loss success,” says Susan Rodder, a registered dietitian at UT Southwestern.

In a 2013 study from Spain, where lunch is the main daily meal, women in a 20-week weight loss program were categorized into two groups: early eaters (those who ate lunch before 3 p.m.) and late eaters (those who ate lunch after 3 p.m.).

Researchers found that despite the similarities between the women’s diets and daily routines, the women who ate earlier in the day lost more weight and experienced faster weight loss than those who ate later in the day.