Timing of Meals Important to Weight Loss

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We're all watching what we eat, but is that enough? A new study published in the International Journal of Obesity suggests when we eat maybe just as important.

The study followed 420 overweight people over the course of 20 weeks during a weight loss program in Spain. Participants were then divided into early eaters and late eaters based on their answers to a survey. Lunch was the focus of the study since in many Mediterranean cultures, it's the main meal of the day. Early eaters were those who ate lunch before 3 pm and late eaters ate after 3 pm. There were no other significant differences between the groups other than the time they ate their large meal.

What the researchers found was that late lunchers tended to experience less weight loss than their early-eating peers, as well as slow rates of late loss. They also had lower insulin stability levels, which is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes. In addition, those who ate later in the day were, oddly enough, more like to have skipped breakfast or eaten smaller breakfasts. Those who ate earlier in the day were able to lose more weight and lose it faster than the people in the late eater groups.

The researchers hope that as doctors and other health professionals develop new weight loss routines, they will take into account not just caloric distribution but the timing of meals and snacks as well.

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