My advice for anyone who is trying to lose weight, is always to start with a good breakfast, and stop eating after dinner. I find that individuals who eat late into the night tend to rack up lots of empty calories that are stored as fat, rather than burned. There is also lots of research, which suggests that breakfast eaters tend to have a healthier weight and better eating habits throughout the day.
But I recently came across a research study from Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, which might have me tweak my advice just a bit… I’m still sticking with the breakfast and nothing after dinner rule, but I will also recommend eating your largest meal earlier in the day, based on the results of this study, and a little common sense.
The study found that individuals on a 20-week weight loss program, who ate their largest meal of the day before 3pm lost significantly more weight than those who ate after 3pm – even though they all ate roughly the same number of calories. The late-eaters also a lower estimated insulin sensitivity – which is a risk factor for diabetes. This study was observational – which means it doesn’t prove cause and effect. The researchers did not determine if eating earlier in the day improves your metabolism.
The rate at which your body burns calories (aka your metabolism) is a complicated subject. The main thing that determines your metabolic rate is the amount of muscle mass your body has – muscle burns more calories than fat. However, it makes sense to me that if you eat earlier in the day, you may have more energy to move more, and build the muscle that boosts your metabolism. Bottom line – eating most of your calories earlier in the day may give you an edge with weight loss.
[box] Tip! Use a Calorie Calculator like this one to calculate how many calories your body needs each day. Subtract 500 calories per day for weight loss.[/box]