If you’re looking to shed a few pounds, it may be time to move up your lunch break. Why, you ask? A study from the International Journal of Obesity says that dieters lost more weight when they ate their lunch earlier in the day than those who ate it later.
During the study, about 420 Spanish people on a “so-called” Mediterranean diet at a nutrition clinic, were asked to keep a log of their food and physical activity. Half of the people said they ate lunch before 3 p.m. and the other half ate it after. Both groups ate a similar amount of food and burned a similar amount of calories. The real shocker is that those who ate lunch early lost about 22 pounds on average and those who ate later only lost about 7.7 pounds on average.
So if they ate the same food and burned the same calories, what was the difference? Researchers say that the late lunchers may have more food in their stomachs when they go to sleep that doesn’t get burned and, consequentially, turns into fat. This could actually be a big reason why so many people are overweight in the U.S. where dinner is typically the largest meal.
So while eating well and exercising are still the most important factors in maintaining a healthy body weight, researchers say that our meal times should be a part of the equation too. “We should now seriously start to consider the timing of food—not just what we eat, but also when we eat,” says study co-author Frank Sheer.
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