Making a relatively small change to meal times can double weight loss, a study finds.
Shifting calorie consumption to earlier in the day can help to increase weight loss and reduce belly fat, research finds.
One of the reasons this technique works is that it may help people to sleep better and higher quality sleep is linked to weight loss.
Late night snacking, meanwhile, is one of the great enemies of weight loss.
Indeed, people who eat more of their calories later in the day tend to put on weight.
The study included 31 overweight and obese people who were already on a weight loss diet.
They had their sleep and movements tracked with wearable activity monitors.
The study found that people who consumed their calories earlier in the day had reduced BMI (body mass index) and lower body fat.
Eating earlier in the day was also linked to sleeping earlier.
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.”
Alternatively, people in one study compressed their meals closer to the middle of the day.
They had their breakfast 90 minutes later and their supper 90 minutes earlier.
Changing meal times in this way led to a doubling in weight loss.
This was without changing what people eat or making other lifestyle shifts, like increasing exercise.
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.