We are now a quarter of the way into 2013, so it's time to ask yourself how you are doing with your new year's resolutions. I know for a lot of people weight loss and getting into shape was high on their list for the New Year. This goal, while rewarding once achieved, can be a struggle for a lot of people, because they will look at the scale and not see any movement for days or weeks on end. As a result, they often get frustrated and give up. If they perceiver they will find ways to stay motivated and continue towards their goal, while seeking out why things are not changing.
A recent article called "For Weight Loss Success, Think About When, Not Just What, You Eat" by Alexandra Sifferlin found on the Time's website, gives us another clue as to the importance of timing when we eat. "In a study published in the International Journal of Obesity,...scientist[s] monitored 420 overweight participants for a 20 week weight loss program in Spain." They were looking at the timing of the largest meal and how it affected the participant's ability to lose weight.
Here in the U.S. we seem to eat a relatively small breakfast, if we even eat one at all. Lunch will be a little bit larger, followed by dinner which is often our largest meal. So what then do we do after dinner to burn off those extra calories we just ate? Often we sit on the couch for a bit watching TV, or playing with our cell phones, and then head off to bed. Thus, I often point out to my patients we should be eating our largest meals earlier in the day (either breakfast or lunch). In Spain, where this study took place, the mid-day meal is their largest meal. This meal will be comprised of 40% of their calories for the day.
The researchers then took the 420 participants and split them up, so that half of them ate lunch before 3pm, while the others ate after 3pm. What the research found was that "the late-eaters lost less weight overall and shed pounds at a slower rate than those eating earlier. Those eating lunch later were more likely to skip breakfast or eat fewer calories [for breakfast], while the timing of breakfast and dinner didn't influence weight loss effectiveness for either group." The take home seems to be timing does matter when it comes to weight loss. But it is also important to remember to eat when hungry.
"Hunger peaks when you expect it to peak at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Cravings peak after dinner," says Dr. Tim Church, the director of the Laboratory of Preventive Medicine at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Our bodies are wise machines. We need to become educated in listening to the signals our bodies give us so that we can best utilize them to the fullest. If you need help learning to understand those signals your body is giving you call Dr. Larrow at (415) 912-9934 and set up a free 15 minute consultation to see how she can help you.
References - Time Health & Family - "For Weight Loss Success, Think About When, Not Just What, You Eat." By Alexandra Sifferlin, Jan 29, 2013.