I recently read in Nutrition Action, a monthly newsletter about an interesting weight loss study, that suggested when you eat may be more important than how much.
The Israeli study involved 74 overweight or obese people who had metabolic syndrome, and each was given one of two 1400 calorie diets.
The difference was that one diet was the ‘breakfast diet’ where more of the calories were consumed at the beginning of the day, and the other was the ‘dinner diet’ where the majority of calories were consumed later in the day.
For the breakfast diet, the person consumed 700 calories at breakfast, 500 at lunch and 200 at dinner.
For the ‘dinner diet’, 200 calories were consumed at breakfast, 500 for lunch and 700 for dinner. So the same amount of calories were consumed but at different times in the day.
The results after 12 weeks were very interesting. The women on the breakfast diet had lost 18 lbs, whereas those on the dinner diet only lost 8 lbs. Other markers for health also improved more on the breakfast diet, including a bigger fall in waist size and the women on the breakfast diet reported being less hungry.
The caution in the article is that more studies need to be done to ascertain if a bigger breakfast leads to more weight loss than a bigger dinner. They also warn that none of these meals were big.
So for example the big breakfasters had 115 grams of light tuna on whole wheat bread, 2 cups of skim milk, 1/2 cup of tomato and mozzarella cheese salad, a 200 calorie chocolate bar, and a coffee. Lunch was 140 grams of grilled chicken breast, with melon, green salad, beef broth and diet coke, and dinner was 2 scrambled egg whites with 5 slices of turkey breasts and a coffee.
It seemed a fair amount of food to me.
The bottom line is that it may be worth experimenting with eating your heavier meals earlier in the day, and track your progress.