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Does the time of day and the meal size matter for weight-loss?

Updated: Nov 1, 2022

There has been a lot of debate and research to whether you should bulk-up most of your daily calories at breakfast or later in the day at dinner. There are a number of contradictory studies examining this question. Some suggest breakfast and others supporting dinner and even a few encourage the skipping of meals. But, what is the best approach to weight-loss and weight management, and does meal size and time of day matter?

Answering this question has proved challenging. Most research is based on observational studies and relies on the subjects own reports and feedback. This can be unreliable and can may even be biased or misleading.

Thankfully, some quality research was conducted by the University of Aberdeen. The researchers recruited 30 adults who were overweight or obese and had no other underlying health conditions. The research team then provided food and drinks over a 10 week period.

The research was structured with weight-management for a week, to gain baseline results, followed by a structured calorie to meal approach in different groups. Each food group and meal was precisely measured. Over the weeks, the group on the big breakfast would then be switched to the big dinner and visa-versa.

By the end of the study, the researchers found that there was little difference in how much weight the participants lost when the ate more in the morning than in the evening, averaging a difference of only 0.05kg. This suggests that calories are used and burnt regardless of when they are eaten.

One interesting outcome is that most of the participants felt fuller for longer when they had a larger breakfast.

Key things to remember:

  1. Balance - eating a wide variety of foods and getting that nutrition is key.

  2. Calories - as the study concluded, it doesn't matter when you consume your calories for the day. Eat well over the course of the day and ensure a variety of foods.

  3. Follow the meal plans - these will support the calories control and get all the nutrients you need.

  4. Never skip a meal!

  5. Breakfast - eating a good breakfast will make you feel fuller for longer and lead to better food choices over the course of your day.

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