When we’re losing weight, we’re always thinking about what we’re eating, whether it’s healthy enough, and often what we’d like to be eating instead!However, while what we eat is obviously important, we shouldn’t overlook the issue of when we eat. In fact, according to a study by the University of Texas, the time of day you eat might even be more significant than the amount of calories you consume.
The study found that eating at the ‘wrong’ time of the day, i.e. outside of your usual active period (during the day for most people), then you’re more likely to put on weight. In the study, there were five groups of mice, all of which were on a reduced-calorie diet. However, of all five groups, the only ones who lost weight were those that ate during their normal feeding/active cycle.
You may be thinking, this was a study with mice, but did you know their genetic, biological and behavior characteristics closely resemble those of humans.
So when should we eat if we want to lose weight?
Much research has been conducted into this area, and it suggests that you should eat breakfast between 6am and 9.45am. One particular study found that eating a high-protein breakfast between these times was linked to reduced body fat gain and less hunger throughout the day compared with those who first at after 10am each day.
Mid Morning Snack
For those of you who like a mid morning snack, then you should do so approximately two to four hours after having your breakfast. And if you’re worried that having a snack will impact on your diet, some research has shown that having certain snacks can actually help you minimise the calories you consume over the rest of the day. Obviously, if you’re on a diet plan, make sure it fits in with that, and don’t force yourself to have a snack if you’re not hungry.
If you want to lose more weight then you should be having lunch before 3pm, which most of you will probably do anyway to be honest. This study found that dieters lost around 25% less weight if they ate most of their daily calories after 3pm.
There’s a bit of debate with the optimal dinner time, but it would seem that anywhere between 5pm and 7pm is ideal. Any later and our body starts to wind down for the day and stops burning calories as effectively. In fact, research has suggested that those who regularly eat their evening meal after 8pm could be adding as much as two inches onto their waist.
An important aspect of our evening routines is to ensure we don’t snack after our dinner. In this study, 29 men were asked to cut themselves off from the kitchen after 7pm, thus preventing their ability to eat anything after that time. They found that the men ate on average 244 fewer calories each day compared to a group who could eat whenever they wanted.
Most of you will eat your meals between these times anyway, but if you do have irregular or unusual eating times, then it might be worthwhile trying to shift them to between these times. But don’t worry if you can’t eat exclusively between these times, as long as you eat healthily and get regular exercise, you should be absolutely fine.
If you’re on a Shake That Weight very low calorie diet plan, space your meals out depending on how many meal replacement products you have – and as they’re so packed full of all the healthy vitamins and minerals your body needs, they’ll keep you feeling fuller for longer anyway.