Dieters often look for the “secret key” to weight loss. Some people believe the key to faster weight loss is eating breakfast. In fact, there are many beliefs about meal timing in general and its effect on metabolism. Some people believe that you should eat a big meal first thing in the morning, some believe that you should never eat after 7pm at night and still others believe that you should eat every three hours to maximize the number of calories you burn and lose weight faster. But is there any science behind these meal timing myths?
Meal Timing and Metabolism
Researchers have a difficult time studying meal timing and metabolism. So far, scientists have been unable to say that any specific meal schedule will cause you to burn more calories. So will you lose weight faster simply by eating breakfast? No. But experts still recommend that dieters plan their meals at regular intervals throughout the day so that they avoid binge eating and decrease the overall number of calories they eat.
If you want to lose weight, the bottom line is calorie restriction. You’ve got to control portions and eat less. For some people, eating breakfast helps them do this. For example, when you eat a healthy breakfast you might be less likely to snack on high-calorie junk food later in the day. Similarly, if you eat a moderate snack every few hours, you won’t be starving at meal time and this might help you to control portion sizes. And eating at night? There’s nothing necessarily bad about eating past 7pm, except that this is a time when you’re more likely to participate in mindless eating – in front of the television or computer – and lose track of the total number of calories you consume.
The Best Meal Schedule for You
The “secret key” to healthy weight loss is finding a personalized meal schedule that helps you control portions and eat less. The best way to get that schedule is to meet with a registered dietitian. During your appointment, an RD will get information about your daily activities and create a unique plan that fits into your life and your routine. Not sure how to get started? Learn more about meeting with an RD, then talk to your primary care provider to get a referral.
McCrory MA, Campbell WW. ” Effects of eating frequency, snacking, and breakfast skipping on energy regulation: symposium overview.” Journal of Nutrition, January 14, 2011.
American Dietetic Association. ” Position of the American Dietetic Association: Weight Management.” February 2009.
Paul M La Bounty, Bill I Campbell, et al. ” International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: meal frequency.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition March 16, 2011.