What to eat or when to eat?
What is the best time for dinner? Shall I have breakfast as soon as I wake up?
We used to think that the timing of meals was crucial when going on a diet and trying to lose weight. Restricting meal times and intermittent fasting has become a popular method to lose weight in recent years.
However, a new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association claims that the timing of meals may not have as big an impact on weight at all.
The researchers investigated the portion sizes and eating times of 547 participants, monitoring their health and weight over the course of six years. The study result shows no association between the time of the day in which people had their meals and their weight.
Meals timing not so important
The researchers found no association between restricting eating times and weight loss, said Dr Wendy Bennett, an associate professor of medicine in the division of general internal medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, the study author.
It didn't matter when people ate after waking up, how long they ate throughout the day and how late they had the last meal.
The size of the meals matters
What mattered was the size of the meals. Smaller portions were associated with weight loss. Timing meals, however, can be helpful when tracking the nutrition of your meals.
"Based on other studies that have come out, including ours, we are starting to think that timing of meals through the day most likely doesn't immediately result in weight loss," Bennett said.
The experts cautioned that the study was observational a better look is needed to determine the effects of meal timing.
What diet is the best for weight loss?
There is no universal strategy that would work for all people regarding nutrition and diet. Among other factors that can influence whether our diet is successful are stress, our environment, ethnicity and health issues, as well as the quality of foods and their nutritional value. Those factors could be important for getting a better look at the effects of meal timing.
Is intermittent fasting effective?
In some cases, restricting meal breaks and intermittent fasting can be a helpful way to take note of personal tendencies. However, it doesn't work in a long run, as many people can't sustain it for enough time to see long-term change.
Nutritional value is more important than calories
When it comes to weight management, the quality and nutritional value of the food you eat matter. In general, if you eat plenty of vegetables and whole foods and add regular exercise to your daily routine, it will help you to lose weight, but the results and how fast you achieve them may differ from person to person.
Don't focus too much on calories, meal timing or fasting. Your body knows that 100 calories of cookies or candies are not the same as 100 calories of beans, lentils or fresh vegetables. If a certain diet works for one person, it doesn't mean it will work for someone else. That only means their body reacted better to the changes.
"I suspect that if they looked more closely at the data, that there would be subgroups (where the timing of meals) may have had a significant effect," Lichtenstein said.
"If you make some effort to consume a healthy diet, you make some effort to be physically active, you're less likely to have diabetes, chronic kidney disease, obstructive pulmonary disease and hypertension," Lichtenstein said.