Featured It's not what you eat but when you eat it

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It’s not what you eat, but when you eat it

Struggling to lose weight? Tired of counting calories and seeing no improvement? No matter how small your portions, or how laden they are with fruit and vegetables (not to mention devoid of sugar, fat and processed foods), new research suggests if you eat at the wrong time of day, your weight loss hopes will be slashed.

The new study encourages dieters to focus on the time of day they consume their food, suggesting the later in the day you choose to chow down, the slower your weight loss progress will be.

Spanish researchers published the results of their study in the International Journal of Obesity. They examined 420 overweight individuals living in the Mediterranean town of Murcia, Spain. The patients were evenly split between men and women, and had an average age of 42.

The study looked specifically at what time the participants ate their main meal, which consisted of around 1,400 calories, with the goal of comparing the weight loss progress of the participants.

At the end of the study, researchers found that individuals who ate their primary meal before 3 pm lost 10kg on average. Those who ate after 3 pm, however, only lost an average of 7.7 kg.

The researchers believe that when one postpones a meal until late in the day, it throws the metabolism out of sync, esssentially messing with the body’s internal clock.

“When the timing of meals do not match with the sleep-wake cycle well, there’s a disconnect between the different clocks that we have in basically all the cells of our body,” the study’s author, Frank Scheer commented. With this disconnect, Scheer says the complex systems that regulate weight don’t work as well.

According to Scheer, recent animal studies have shown that the timing of eating can have a powerful influence on weight regulation and metabolism. This new study, he says, is among the first to suggest it’s also key in people.

“Only in recent years are we trying to study this and tease apart what the underlying mechanisms might be,” says Scheer.

Whilst this research may encourage individuals to adjust their meal schedule if they are struggling to lose weight, the emphasis on what you eat shouldn’t be forgotten.

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About the Author

Lizzy has more than ten years’ experience in the print and digital publishing arena and is the Editor at Single File. Having moved from the UK to Australia in 2008, Lizzy has worked for a number of leading publishers in Sydney and has particular expertise in the health, wellness and travel markets. If you have any questions for Lizzy, you can send them across by email to lizzy@singlefile.com.au.

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