M Garaulet, P Gomez-Abellan, J J Alburquerque-Bejar, Y-C Lee, J M Ordovas, F A J L Scheer.  “Timing of food intake predicts weight loss effectiveness” Intl J Obesity, 29 January 2013

Food Timing is a concept I introduced in the mid 1990’s and published in What Does Your Doctor Look Like Naked? in the late 1990’s.  Once again, in the weight loss arena, the concept is being shown to be a valuable tool:

Frank Scheer, from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (Massachusetts, USA), and colleagues evaluate the role of food timing in weight-loss effectiveness in a group of 420 individuals who followed a 20-week weight-loss treatment.  The participants were divided into two groups: early-eaters and late-eaters, according to the self-selected timing of the main meal, which in this Mediterranean population was lunch. During this meal, 40% of the total daily calories are consumed. Early-eaters ate lunch anytime before 3 p.m. and late-eaters, after 3 p.m.

They found that late-eaters lost significantly less weight than early-eaters, and displayed a much slower rate of weight-loss. Late-eaters also had a lower estimated insulin sensitivity, a risk factor for diabetes.  Researchers found that timing of the other (smaller) meals did not play a role in the success of weight loss.

However, the late eaters—who lost less weight—also consumed fewer calories during breakfast and were more likely to skip breakfast altogether. Late-eaters also had a lower estimated insulin sensitivity, a risk factor for diabetes. Writing that: “Eating late may influence the success of weight-loss therapy,” the study authors submit that: “Novel therapeutic strategies should incorporate not only the caloric intake and macronutrient distribution—as is classically done—but also the timing of food.”


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