If you’ve ever tried losing weight, you know the traditional ways: cut down portions, count calories, cut unhealthy fats.
I don’t know about you but sometimes it’s hard for me to stuff all these rules in my head and at the same time live life.
Maybe you’ve even tried all these, and it seems your body won’t just let go of the weight. And even worse, sometimes you hit the weight loss plateau. What to do?
Here comes the good news:
A growing number of doctors and fitness experts are realizing that when you eat is just as important as what you eat.
Meal timing refers to the windows of time that we introduce nutrients to our bodies.
Here are seven reasons why you should care about meal timing if you want to lose weight.
1. Affects metabolism
Metabolism is the process by which our bodies convert what we eat and drink to energy.
Our bodies constantly depend on this process to keep functioning, even when we’re resting.
Think about it, even at rest, your body still needs to breathe, circulate blood, grow, and repair cells.
Eating a high-calorie meal at breakfast is better than eating a high-calorie meal at dinner.
According to research findings published in the Obesity Journal in 2013, obese participants who ate a high-calorie breakfast and a low-calorie dinner lost more weight.
They lost more weight than those who ate a high-calorie dinner and a low-calorie breakfast.
Both groups consumed the same amount of calories in a day. The only difference was the timing of the heaviest meal of the day.
The study examined the relationship between the timing of calorie intake and metabolic syndrome.
2. Improves body rhythm
Satchin Panda who is an expert on circadian rhythms says that people should eat all their meals within an 8-10 hour window to achieve better metabolic health.
This would mean shortening your eating window by several hours. This form of meal timing can help you lose weight.
Panda is the author of The Circadian Code, a book that breaks down how sleeping patterns and eating times affect weight gain.
The Circadian rhythm is a system that synchronizes your sleep patterns as well as the hormones controlling them.
When your sleeping and eating patterns are off, your hormones will work against you.
This will cause you to crave those dangerous late-night snacks that ruin your waistline.
3. Can lower body mass index
Researchers have found that adults who ate two meals had a lower BMI (Body Mass Index) on average compared to people who ate three meals a day.
Researchers who studied 50,660 adults found that people who ate more meals and snacks had a higher BMI.
The changed BMI was affected mostly by how long the individuals fasted overnight.
This means that people who stopped eating earlier in the evening had a lower BMI than those who ate snacks and meals late into the night.
The study was focused on meal frequency, meal timing, and their relationship with Body Mass Index, and how participants lose weight.
Authors thought that the reason why fewer meals were associated with lower BMI had something to do with hormones that signal to the body that it has had enough to eat.
These hormones are leptin and ghrelin.
They also thought that it could have something to do with the circadian clock, which in turn regulates the metabolism.
4. Counters unhealthy snacking
Research suggests that people who snack in between meals don’t necessarily add much nutritive value to their diets.
The findings of a 2016 Australian study found that people who ate more snacks did not necessarily have a more nutrient-rich diet. But their meals were associated with more nutritious diets.
This means that eating patterns affect diet quality, and more snacking probably means eating a high nutrient, low quality food that does not necessarily add value.
This means that people would probably do well to enjoy two or three meals and forget snacking altogether.
5. Affects the size of your waistline
A Korean study found that eating more meals during a 24-hour day increases waist circumference and blood pressure in men.
It was a large scale study on the relationships between meal timing, meal frequency, and obesity in adult Koreans.
The study concluded that people who more frequently registered larger waistlines.
Not only did more frequent meals increase waistlines, but it also increased their blood pressure and triglycerides.
People who ate more in the morning than late at night were found to have better metabolism.
This might explain why many college students gain weight when they join the university.
This is a time when they suddenly begin eating fewer meals and more fast food.
They also stay up later and eat and drink late at night. This affects both their eating and sleeping patterns, throwing off their internal body clock.
6. Promotes faster weight loss
A study of the effect of meal timing on weight loss diet of 420 people in the Mediterranean found something telling.
It turns out that even when lunch was the largest meal of the day – which is common in the Mediterranean – early eaters still lost weight faster.
Early eaters also lost more weight in total, compared to late eaters.
7. Prevents obesity, even on a high-fat diet
Before meal timing was tested in humans, it was tested in mice.
A 2012 study found that mice that were subjected to a time-restricted diet lost weight, even when they were on a high-fat diet.
The diet prevented liver disease and diabetes, too. The study concluded that feeding times, as well as nutrient intake, influenced the condition of the liver.
The obesity epidemic is expected to afflict as much as half of Americans in the future. It has far-reaching effects on the quality of life for everyone.