The latest issue of the International Journal of Obesity features a research study out of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Researchers Scheer and Garaulet studied 420 dieters though a 20-week weight loss regime. As usual, the group was split in half. Both groups followed the same exercise, eating and sleeping program. The only difference between the two groups was the timing of their largest meal.
The study was conducted in Spain, where the largest meal of the day is typically at lunch. So for this study, one group ate lunch before 3pm and the other group at lunch after 3pm. The caloric intake was the same, just the timing varied.
The scientists believe that this time-of-day phenomenon is related to how our body’s circadian rhythms affect our secretion of hormones, which drives our digestive processes. The food that we eat is converted into glucose. This glucose becomes available as energy when combined with insulin. It has been known for years that our insulin secretion (and effectiveness) is better in the morning than at night. That would explain why an earlier meal would digest into energy when a later meal might turn into body fat instead.
What is the take-away? Many of us eat our meals exactly backwards from this discovery. We eat a small meal at breakfast, a slightly larger meal at lunch and really dig in at dinner. This research suggests that we should start big and work our way to small, calorie-wise, through our day.
It can’t hurt to try, can it?