A recent study caught my eye a few days ago. This study suggests there may be a link between meal timing and weight management. Intriguing? Yes. Is it true? Here’s the nitty gritty.
420 overweight and obese individuals in Murcia, Spain (49.5% women)
31 to 53 years old
BMI (body mass index) between 26 and 36.8
Early Eaters and Late Eaters: Participants were grouped into early eaters and late eaters based on the timing of their main meal (lunch time before and after 3pm, respectively). In this Mediterranean population, the main meal is lunch which consists of ~40% of total daily caloric intake (very different from USA culture); 51% of participants were early eaters and 49% were late eaters.
Intervention: Structured weight loss program including weekly group therapy sessions (lasted approximately 5 months, depending on weight loss goal). Weight loss period was followed with a 5 month structured weight maintenance program that included group meetings. The program was based on the tenets of the Mediterranean diet, moderate physical activity and behavioral modification techniques. No advice was given about the timing of meals, just the amount of food that should be eating over the course of a day.
Duration of study: 20 weeks
Results: Late lunch eaters lost significantly less weight and experienced a slower rate of weight reduction than early eaters over the course of 20 weeks. Looks like the early eaters won out in the long run. Are you surprised? There’s more.
This difference in weight loss success was not explained by differences in caloric intake, macronutrient distribution (think protein, fats, and carb ratios), energy expenditure, sleep duration or appetite hormones; even physical activity was similar between both groups.
Why did the late eaters lose out in the end? Here are a few notable findings among the night ‘owls’:
-were more evening type
-skipped breakfast more frequently than early eaters
-had less energetic breakfasts
-ate less protein at lunch than early eaters
-ate dinner later in the evening
What does this mean for you?
First of all, participants in this study all lost a healthy amount of weight. This was due to consuming foods in the Mediterranean diet: nutrient dense foods, healthy fats, slower digesting carbs, and living foods. They also exercised regularly and practiced portion control by actively weighing and measuring meals.
Second, don’t skip breakfast – it will slow down your metabolism. Start your day with a meal replacement shake or a protein bar to get your metabolism going; Lean Shake 25 is a popular option.
Third, emerging research shows that consuming adequate amounts of dietary protein induces satiety and reduces the feeling of hunger when compared to carbohydrates or fats. If you’re not sure just how much protein you need, find your Protein Number here.
Finally, genotypes (genetic makeup of a cell) were found to be a factor in meal timing. A minor genetic variation associated with obesity was found to be more prevalent in late eaters vs. early eaters.
Although genetics plays a role in weight management, don’t forget that practicing healthy lifestyle and dietary habits are also very important.
Are you an early bird or night owl?