Eating a Late Lunch May Decrease Weight Loss

Mediterranean Lunch

A study published recently in the International Journal of Obesity found that in a sample of 420 people, those who at lunch after 3pm lost 25% less weight than those who ate their second meal of the day earlier on. Both groups consumed a similar amount of calories, and burned a similar amount based on self-reported activity. Additionally, both groups slept approximately the same amount each night. To researchers, this indicates that eating later could make it more difficult for people to lose weight, although they acknowledged the variance may be impacted by the fact that the study was run in Spain where lunch is the largest meal of the day. Researchers from Harvard Medical School in Boston call for more research in countries like the United States where lunch is usually smaller, and dinner composes the largest meal of the day. In the weight loss community, it is commonly believed that eating your bigger meal earlier would increase weight loss because your body has more time to use the calories before sleep. However, this study is the first long-term, large sample study to demonstrate that meal timing can impact a person’s fight to drop pounds.

While researchers are not clear on why timing of meals would impact weight loss, there are several theories. The first is that evenly spacing meals helps keep metabolism constantly in action. Additionally, the late lunchers in this study were more likely to eat a very light breakfast, or no breakfast at all which may impact weight loss. Scientists also suspect that it may link to the body’s circadian rhythms and the need to leave even amounts of time between eating. The participants in the study joined a five-month weight-loss program focused around the Mediterranean diet. The group typically consumed 40% of daily calories at lunch, and the early lunchers lost an average of 22 pounds while the late-lunchers lost only 17. While this study does not definitively answer the question of why the difference occurs, it calls attention to the fact that meal timing does impact weight loss. More research is required to further explain the connection.

Source courtesy of Health. Image courtesy of Chic Provence.

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