We are living at a faster pace than ever, with longer working hours and events happening rapidly and continuously all around us. Juggling multiple tasks throughout the day means you tend to gravitate toward convenience foods, takeout, or prepared meals. But even if you prioritize meal prepping to solve this problem, what happens when you’re too busy to eat?
Just like meal frequency, eating habits will also change based on your health goals. For example, if you want to lose weight, you may need to structure your eating plan accordingly. So what are the best times to eat to lose weight? Here are some suggestions for planning your meals to promote optimal digestion and weight loss.
Is there scientific evidence that certain times of eating are more conducive to weight loss?
To understand the meal schedule, it’s good to move away from the idea of eating for comfort and towards the idea of eating to fuel your body. You need fuel for most activities, right? For most people, these activities take place during the day.
This means that your body generally converts food into energy during the day. At night, your body focuses more on rest and repair. This idea suggests that your body slows down and is less efficient at processing food at night.
When should you have breakfast?
In animals, studies have shown that the first meal of the day determines the rhythm of peripheral internal clocks. This study suggests that you should consider eating within the first hours of waking up to start your day off right.
This also allows for complete digestion and a few hours’ rest before the second meal of the day. Of course, everyone is different and waking habits vary from person to person, so it’s essential to experiment for yourself.
Skipping breakfast: is it good practice?
Some research suggests that skipping breakfast increases postprandial reactions after lunch and dinner due to an impaired insulin response.
That said, it may be a good idea to skip breakfast if you practice intermittent fasting and that time of day falls within your fasting window.
For some on a 16/8 fasting schedule (eating for an eight-hour window and fasting for 16 hours), the fasting period might start after dinner, between 6 and 7 p.m., and not end until around lunch. the next day.
In this case, the benefits of skipping breakfast are similar to those of fasting. Research shows that intermittent fasting can reduce overall calorie intake, promote weight loss, and improve metabolic health.
When should you have your lunch?
Studies suggest eating breakfast between 12 and 2 p.m. for optimal results. But of course, it’s important to remember that we are all different, and that may not be the case for everyone.
A Spanish study experimented with the timing of lunch and weight loss to see if there was a correlation with when you eat your main meal.
The results of the study indicate that people who eat breakfast late (after 3 p.m.) lost less weight than those who eat breakfast early (before 3 p.m.). This is despite similar age, appetite hormones, energy intake and expenditure, sleep duration, or macronutrient distribution.
What about skipping lunch?
Skipping breakfast can be tempting if you’re busy or distracted, but it can cause problems later in the day. Skipping breakfast can drain your body’s energy, causing brain fog or drowsiness.
Ultimately, the best approach is to listen to your internal cues to determine your level of hunger and make the best decision.
When should you have dinner?
Ideally, your last meal of the day should be at least three to four hours before you go to bed. Studies have shown that eating dinner late or eating too late at night is linked to an increased risk of obesity and metabolic disturbances like dyslipidemia and hyperglycemia.
A study of overweight/obese women with metabolic syndrome showed that those with higher calorie intake during dinner had greater insulin resistance than those with higher calorie intake during breakfast course. This finding suggests that reducing intake at dinner may help reduce insulin resistance over time.
Most skip dinner to lose weight, is this a good approach?
For most people with a normal metabolism, skipping dinner or having it late in the day between 4 and 6 p.m. can be beneficial. This may better align with internal clocks, which optimize digestion and nutrient absorption.
Due to the need to stabilize glucose, if you have chronic conditions such as diabetes, you should discuss this decision with your doctor before applying it.
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