For years, dieters have been told not to eat late in the day. A new study now suggests dieters who eat early lunches are able to lose more weight than dieters who lunch late.
Researchers from the Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women Hospital in Boston, said meal timing should be considered along with meal composition and calories when considering weight loss.
The researchers arrived at this conclusion by studying 420 people who were obese or overweight who had participated in a program for weight loss in Spain for 20 weeks.
The meal at midday is often the biggest of the day in Spain and participants consumed close to 40% of the entire daily calories at lunch. Fifty percent of the participants were classified as early eaters since they had their lunch prior to 3 p.m., while the other half ate after 3 p.m. and were given the classification of being late eaters.
Overall, the participants averaged a daily consumption of 1,400 calories during the program. Energy expenditure or calorie intake did not differ between the early or late lunch groups.
Researchers found that the people eating early lunches lost on average 22 pounds during their 20 weeks, while those eating later lunches lost an average of 17 pounds.
Those who ate later consumed on average less at breakfast and were even more likely to skip breakfast then those eating early lunches. Most of the time dieters are advised that eating breakfast is important.
The results cannot be directly translated to Americans, said researchers, but a later dinner, the biggest meal for most Americans, might impair someone’s weight loss in a similar fashion.