Timing is everything when it comes to your meals – QCOnline

Depending on the latest diet scheme to hit your weight-conscious circle, you may be consuming a greater proportion of your calories in the morning, fasting after dinner or spreading your calories over five mini meals.

That line about “timing being everything” can apply to a lot in your life, but does it have an impact on weight loss?

Even though there’s no consensus, health experts suggest some links between weight loss and meal timing, and not all of it is what you’d expect.

“I think it’s a pretty complicated issue,” says Dr. Elizabeth Thomas, instructor, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism, Department of Medicine, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora.

Despite numerous studies on meal timing, the answers are hard to come by, according to Dr. Daniel Bessesen, chief of endocrinology, Denver Health Medical Center, Colo.

“Embracing a new diet schedule once a week isn’t the thing to do. You have to be consistent,” says Dr. Bessesen.

He points to the limitations of studies that don’t compare all aspects of volunteers’ diets or that ask people to recall what and when they ate.

One well-respected study of meal timing called for 420 adults to have lunch, their main meal of the day, either before or after 3 p.m. during a 20-week weight loss treatment in Spain.

Although both groups consumed a similar amount of total calories, had similar energy expenditures and a similar amount of sleep, the late diners had a slower rate of weight loss and lost less weight than those who ate earlier.

Those results suggest that strategies for weight loss take meal timing into consideration, say the researchers.

“Smaller and more often” is popular advice for dieters.

One theory is that eating a greater number of mini meals boosts your metabolism so you lose weight.

But when two groups of women, one lean and one obese, were given the same number of calories in either a two-meal or a five-meal a day schedule, the women burned the same number of calories, regardless of the number of meals they ate.

“The take home is that they’ve (researchers) not been able to show a benefit to eating more or less meals per day,” Dr. Thomas says.

Instead of trying to game weight loss by randomly changing your meal patterns, Dr. Bessesen recommends consistency.

He argues that people have a habitual way of eating and that by sticking with the habit, calorie intake doesn’t really change.

Breaking your habit is when you do get into trouble, according to Dr. Bessesen, who gives the following example:

If you get used to eating all your calories between 6 and 8 p.m. during weekdays, you’re OK. But then if you have weekends in which you can eat breakfast and lunch and don’t compensate by eating less in the evening, you’re consuming too many calories.

“Embracing a new diet schedule once a week isn’t the thing to do. You have to be consistent,” says Dr. Bessesen.

Changing your breakfast habits could have a negative affect on your health, according to research from Dr. Thomas, who looked at the impact of breakfast skipping in overweight and obese women.

On days when overweight or obese habitual breakfast-eating women in her study were asked to skip the morning meal, they had higher glucose and insulin response at lunchtime.

If the women normally skipped breakfast, the research didn’t show a change in glucose and insulin.

Anschutz Health and Wellness Center