A small change to meal times can double weight loss, research finds.
Eating breakfast 90 minutes later and dinner 90 minutes earlier is linked to less body fat and reduced weight — even without dieting.
The small shift may work partly because it helps improve sleep, which is linked to weight loss.
In addition, late-night snacking is one of the real enemies of weight loss.
Changing meal times slightly has been linked to weight loss in multiple studies.
In one weight loss study, people could eat what they liked between their delayed breakfast and early supper.
Otherwise, they were not on any specific diet.
The results showed that their body fat loss was doubled.
In a more recent study, 31 overweight and obese adults had their movement and sleep tracked while on a weight loss diet.
The results showed that those who ate earlier had reduced body fat and a lower Body Mass Index (BMI).
Eating earlier was also linked to better sleep.
Shifting mealtimes slightly may work because it leaves less opportunity to eat.
Naturally, one of the difficulties of the technique is that it can be difficult to fit in with family and social life.
However, the studies do show the dramatic effect of relatively small changes to mealtimes.
Dr Adnin Zaman, the study’s first author, said:
“We used a novel set of methods for simultaneous measurement of daily sleep, physical activity, and meal timing patterns that could be used to identify persons at risk for increased weight gain.
Given that wearable activity monitors and smartphones are now ubiquitous in our modern society, it may soon be possible to consider the timing of behaviors across 24 hours in how we approach the prevention and treatment of obesity.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was presented at ENDO 2019, the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting in New Orleans, La.