Why Do Meal Times Matter for Weight Loss?

Rachel Stinson  |  Updated: September 19, 2016 11:28 IST

Why Do Meal Times Matter for Weight Loss?
  • What you eat is important and in what quantity
  • But do you pay attention to when you eat?
  • Studies link night-time fasting of 12 hours to weight loss
It is only natural that the more burgers and pizzas you wolf down, the more you worry about weight loss. The guilt is followed by a realization for the need to control your diet and cut down on junk food. However, in the middle of this circle of satiation and guilt, what you tend to overlook is the late hour of eating.

For a long time, the weight loss regimen has revolved around what to eat. Only recently, it shifted to 'when to eat'. "There has been so much energy on what we eat and on carbohydrates and it's only very recently that there have been studies to say that we have been ignoring timing and timing might be as important," said Ruth Patterson, professor of family medicine and public health at the University of California, San Diego told CNN.

Operation Falafel Dubai conducted a study where many dietitians and nutritionists took part to analyze how the meal timings affect weight loss. The conclusion was that people who followed specific schedule were able to achieve the objective of weight loss.

Late Night Food Binging? Stop Right Now!

Like many other diet myths busted by latest scientific findings, eating three square meals has also been found to be effective only to a certain degree when it comes to weight loss. Avoiding food (fasting) for 12-15 hours a day was linked to consistent weight loss as stated in the latest study carried out by Satchin Panda, PhD, associate professor in the Regulatory Biology Laboratory at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California. "Your body is more prone to burn fat at certain times of day and store fat at other times," he said. His research suggests that the maximum amount of fat gets burned by the body if you go without food from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.Panda explains his finding by reasoning that "Staying up and eating late is a very recent phenomenon in human history." He narrates that for the most part of history, humans used to spend long hours after the dark without passing as much as a morsel of food through their lips. So, the human body is hardwired to fast during the dark hours of the night and burn fat in the meanwhile. Binging on snacks through the night doesn't give food enough time to get digested and converted for the body to use. Before that can happen, you are already ready with a fork and knife on the breakfast table, ready to munch down bacon and eggs. According to a 2011 study published in the journal Obesity, people awake till midnight or later consume 248 calories more than those who sleep early. And most of these calories begin to stack up after 8 O' clock.

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When Should You Eat Breakfast?

Second to midnight meals, people struggle to maintain good breakfast routines. That too comes as an outcome of staying up late at night, but it can be more easily altered than the bad habit of nighttime food binging. Once and for all, accept what your mom has been nailing down your brain since childhood: breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But there's something that slipped even your mom's mind. Breakfast has to be eaten within an hour of waking up, not once you're at the office. A well timed breakfast sends your metabolism a good message to keep those calories from last night in regulation. "When you wake up in the morning, sunlight tells your brain that the day has started. Eating breakfast-breaking your night's fast-sends that same signal to the circadian rhythms in your body. Chowing shortly after you get up synchronizes these clocks and, as a result, delivers a powerful metabolic jumpstart," Panda says.

An Internal Clock

Circadian clocks are natural clocks fitted inside each of your organ, including the organs of the digestive system. This means that your organs, especially the liver, get accustomed of working best at a certain time of the day, i.e. if you maintain a routine. This helps particularly in keeping your metabolism at its best. But you must take your calories at the same time each day if you want the circadian clocks to help you lose weight.

Safe to say, you may be what you eat but you definitely are also - WHEN you eat. If you had been following a strict workout and diet plan and still not getting anywhere closer to your weight loss goal, we hope you got your solution.

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