Time Your Meals for Weight Loss in a Healthy Way

The key habits to maintaining weight loss »

Although your body isn’t an actual watch, it does have an internal clock that runs approximately every 24 hours. This “circadian rhythm” keeps your body functioning on a schedule. It helps your body adjust to environmental changes, sleep, and behaviors like eating.

It’s clear that what foods you eat can affect your body. But when you eat it can also have an effect. The timing of your meals and snacks can affect:

metabolic regulation

body-weight regulation

management of obesity-related diseases

sleep cycle

Read on to learn about what science says about your circadian rhythm and eating habits, and how they impact each other.

The key habits to maintaining weight loss »

What time should I eat?

Trying to figure out the best time to eat can be confusing, and researchers are looking to see if there are answers. One study showedTrusted Source that late lunch eaters (after 3:00 p.m.) lose less weight than early-eaters. It also found no difference in weight loss for the timing of breakfast and dinner meals. Restricting when you eat to 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. can reduce overall calorie intake by 244, according to another study. This is most likely due to the fact that you eat fewer calories due to less time spent eating. A longer overnight fast can also help with increasing fat loss as your body has time to reach a state of ketosis, which indicates that the body is using fat for energy.

What about breakfast?

Research shows mixed results as to whether breakfast intake contributes to weight loss. One study found that people who ate breakfast saw reduce dietary fat intake and impulsive snacking. Another study found that people who ate more calories at breakfast didn’t necessarily eat less during the day. Breakfast patterns have a smaller role in daily intake than post-breakfast meals.

After reviewing studies regarding breakfast’s impact on weight, the United States Department of Agriculture recommends that people eat a nutrient-rich breakfast to help manage weight and improve overall nutrient intake.