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Are you someone who skips breakfast, skims lunch and waits until late in the day to eat your main meal? If so, this pattern of behaviour may be causing difficulty with weight loss or actually contributing to weight gain.

study done in Spain involved 420 people and put them on a weight loss programme over a 20 week period. Half of the participants ate their main meal before 3pm and half ate their main meal at some time after 3pm. What the researchers found was that those eating their main meal earlier in the day lost more weight than those eating their main meal later in the day. In addition, the late eaters were more ‘evening types’, and typically ate a minimal breakfast or skipped breakfast completely.

The researchers also examined other factors which can influence weight such as energy intake, dietary composition, estimated energy expenditure, appetite hormones and sleep duration. Among these factors they found no significant differences between the two groups.

The researchers therefore concluded that the timing of eating may be an important and independent factor in weight loss success, i.e. it is not only what you eat, but when you eat, which may influence weight.

Why might this be?

Due to a complex interplay between our circadian rhythm, sleep-wake cycles, cardiovascular processes, body temperature and hormone release, it would seem that when we eat later in the day, our bodies tend more toward storing food as fat, rather than metabolising it for energy.

And certainly here at The Fine Clinic we do find that those dieters who have their main meal earlier in the day, and only a small meal in the early evening, lose weight more readily than those who have their main meal later in the day.