Meal Timing and Fat Loss: Does It Matter When and How Often I Eat?

By David Sautter

Chances are, you’ve been told over and over again how important nutrition is for fat loss. You probably already know that your nutritional choices make up at least 70% of the results that you see in the mirror.

What about meal timing, or when you eat your meals throughout the day?

Is it equally as important, especially when your goal is fat-loss?

Let’s take a look at what recent studies are saying about the size of your meals and when you consume them.

Morning vs. Night Eating

Each morning, what were you told about breakfast? That it’s the most important meal of the day. Recent studies are suggesting that for most people who are struggling with weight loss, this classic saying has merit.

A study published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2017 confirmed that those subjects who had a big breakfast, medium-sized lunch, and a light dinner (or no dinner at all) saw the greatest loss in fat and overall bodyweight.

Another study in the International Journal of Obesity discovered similar findings with those consuming big meals later in the day losing less weight if any at all.

What About Intermittent Fasting? 

One practice that has been getting a lot of attention is intermittent fasting due to reported benefits of fat loss. The most popular system of intermittent fasting is going without food for 16 hours each day, followed by an 8-hour feeding window. Does it work? 

Studies confirm that intermittent fasting does help to promote fat loss; however, results are not any better than if you follow a diet focusing on large meals in the morning and progressive caloric decreases throughout the day.

It’s important to note that for the average person, intermittent fasting might be difficult to follow. The attempts to keep caloric consumption within an 8-hour feeding window may result in eating outside of the feeding window, resulting in excessive caloric consumption later in the day.

If you’re going to try intermittent fasting, be aware of the strict hours of fasting and feeding. You might want to practice intermittent fasting for five days per week, using the weekend to eat large meals at the beginning of the day and gradually decrease caloric consumption as the day progresses.

Don’t Forget the Golden Rule

Life isn’t as clear-cut as a rise-and-shine morning, and a perfect schedule for eating. Maybe you work an overnight shift, have two jobs, or have a big family to take care of (or all three). If your meal times fluctuate from day to day, don’t forget about the golden rule of weight loss: you need to burn more calories than you consume. Here are a few tips to ensure you aren’t over-indulging: 

  • Eat light, healthy snacks throughout the day instead of big calorie-packed meals
  • Go natural as much as you can – avoid processed options
  • Avoid high-calorie meals before bed
  • Stay physically active (e.g., take the stairs, perform mini workouts, etc)
  • Consider supplements that help you maximize your workouts and prime your body to build and keep lean muscle

When Do You Eat Your Biggest Meal?

Do you skip breakfast and focus on a big lunch? Do you load up on calories first thing in the morning? Fan of snacking throughout the day? Tell us about your eating habits!

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