Timing of Meals May Be Critical to Weight Loss Efforts
Are you on a regular schedule with your meals? If not, you could be interfering with your ability to adequately lose weight and reduce risk of disease.
We are all crazy-busy these days and sometimes meal times just aren’t as regular as they should be. We delay breakfast until after we drop off the kids at school and make our way into work. Then we skip lunch for a meeting. Rushing home to do errands before bedtime makes our dinner late as well.
Typically, chaotic schedules make us reach for convenient processed foods that are high in fat, salt and calories. But even if our calories aren’t over the top, the crazy meal patterns we have could be interfering with our weight loss efforts!
Researchers recently reviewed data regarding meal patterns and their effect on health and have found that eating irregularly is linked to a higher risk of metabolic syndrome – a combination of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.
You know that circadian rhythms play a role in our sleep habits. But this “internal body clock” also has an effect on other metabolic processes, such as appetite, digestion, and the metabolism of nutrients such as fat and glucose. When our timing of meals is thrown off – think of jetlag – we are at greater risk of weight gain.
A recent clinical trial has shown that greater weight loss and improved blood sugar levels in overweight and obese women were achieved when they ate more calories in the morning than in the evening. “There seems to be some truth in the saying ‘Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper,’ says Dr. Gerda Pot of King’s College London.
Other considerations for eating patterns that positively contribute to health include social eating. Eating meals together as a family often contributes to making healthier choices for both children and adults.
Of course skipping meals almost always leads to being over-hungry and the reduced motivation to eat healthy foods. The last time you had skipped breakfast for example, did you reach for a package of donuts from the office vending machine?
Plan your meals and snacks throughout the day just as you would a meeting with a coworker. It will make you more likely to stick to your diet plus you will have more energy and concentration because you aren’t distracted by hunger. Exercise works much in the same fashion – if you plan for it, you are more likely to actually do it!
1. Pot et al. Meal irregularity and cardio-metabolic consequences: results from observational and intervention studies. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, June 2016 DOI: 10.1017/S0029665116000239
2. Almoosawi et al. Chrono-nutrition: A review of current evidence from observational studies on global trends in time-of-day of energy intake and its association with obesity. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, June 2016 DOI: 10.1017/S0029665116000306
Photo Credit: By Roger McLassus 1951 via Wikimedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=357917