Meal times may affect weight loss success
January 29th, 2013
05:01 AM ET

Meal times may affect weight loss success

Losing weight may not be just about WHAT you eat but WHEN you eat it, according to a new study. Participants in the study who ate a bigger meal later in the day lost less weight than those who ate earlier.

Study authors Marta Garaulet and Dr. Frank Scheer, director of the medical chronobiology program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, followed 420 people in Spain during a 20-week weight loss treatment program.

The participants were split into two groups – early eaters who ate lunch before 3 p.m. and late eaters who ate lunch after 3 p.m. In Spain, lunch is the biggest meal of the day, comprising about 40% of a person’s daily calories.

The early eaters, on average, lost 25% more weight than the late eaters over the course of the study, according to Scheer.

The study authors found no difference in the groups’ weight loss based on breakfast and dinner timing. They also looked at energy expenditure, dietary composition, appetite hormones and sleep duration. These factors were similar in both groups, leading the authors to conclude that the timing of the large meal was the source of the sluggish weight loss.

The study was published Tuesday in the International Journal of Obesity.

Behind the results

Did you know your fat tissue has a built-in clock? In fact, the majority of cells in your body run on a 24-hour schedule, Scheer says.

The combination of all these body clocks is called the circadian system, and it’s controlled by a group of cells in your brain’s hypothalamus. But the “clocks” in individual organs’ cells can be altered by daily activity that doesn’t affect the control center.

For instance, researchers have found that feeding animals during abnormal times can “reset” the clocks in their liver and pancreas, which are key to optimizing metabolism. When this happens, the brain’s central clock remains on schedule. This can result in a de-synchronization between the two.

“That then could lead to abnormal weight gain or a decrease in weight loss,” Scheer says.

Part of this could be due to the body’s ability to handle glucose, the type of sugar that usually comes from carbohydrates. Late eaters in the study showed significantly higher HOMA levels, an index of insulin resistance that’s used to identify diabetes.

Your system is better able to cope with higher glucose levels in the morning, Scheer says, extracting sugar from the blood to use as energy. “The same meal load later in the day would not be received as well.”

Genetic link

Researchers have identified several genes that may play a role in obesity and sleep cycles – i.e. whether we’re early risers or night owls. One gene called the CLOCK gene affects our circadian rhythms. A rare variant of the gene – the “c” allele - has been linked to obesity.

This minor allele was more common in the study’s late eaters. This gene could cause them to want to eat later in the day, Scheer says.

Another explanation

The late eaters in the study often ate less for breakfast or skipped breakfast all together. Past studies have shown that’s a recipe for diet disaster. Fasting for too long can put the body into so-called “storage mode.” People who skip breakfast are also more likely to overeat later, although the study authors did not find a significant difference in the overall calories both groups ate.


There are limitations to these results. The study was observational, meaning the researchers asked participants to record their own meals. Observational studies can link two items – like meal times and weight loss – but can’t show cause and effect. The study needs to be verified with a randomized controlled trial.

That said, planning your meals for earlier in the day couldn’t hurt.

“We should really seriously consider the effect of not only what we eat, but when we eat,” Scheer says.

Try to follow the King, Prince, Pauper rule: eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.

soundoff (191 Responses)
  1. acerte na lotofácil reclame aqui

    Finalmente Revelado A nascente mаs rica do planeta do planeta Dicas, truques, recursos ᥱ também sistemas ⲣara progredir extremadamente
    ѕeս ρodeг dе lucrar na loteria. http://4126.ruhujituan.com/comment/html/index.php?page=1&id=161099

    February 23, 2017 at 11:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. acerte na lotofacil download


    March 10, 2017 at 22:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. acerte na lotofacil 100 garantido


    March 13, 2017 at 01:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. sorteio da lotofácil de hoje


    March 17, 2017 at 01:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Sherry Mcelreavy

    商品名ミニ四駆グレードアップパーツ No.399 MSシャーシ マルチブレーキセットメーカータミヤ発売日シリーズミニ四駆グレードアップパーツ 登場作品・原作商品仕様組み立てキットサイズ商品内容JANコード4950344153992 商品説明スポンジシートを貼り付けたパーツを車体下面に装着。ノースフェイス 限定 http://www.semsecurity.com/template/e3838ee383bce382b9e38395e382a7e382a4e382b9-e99990e5ae9a.htm


    March 19, 2017 at 03:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. todos lotofacil

    Utilizando eѕtе métоdo você vai aumentar em ɑté 98% аs chances dе assestar оs
    15 números Sorteados, іsto vaⅼᥱ tɑnto pаra quem é iniciante como pаra pessоas que já estão acostumadas fazer apostas сom regularidade. http://4195.ruhujituan.com/comment/html/index.php?page=1&id=3728

    March 22, 2017 at 15:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. qual o valor da aposta da lotofacil


    March 30, 2017 at 21:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. bague alhambra van cleef arpels papillon faux

    Beautiful artisan bread twists, Laura! I love how easy this recipe is and just how much time is on the side of the baker – making this totally doable even for busy moms. I’m thinking of making these for Easter to serve along with my Carrot Cake Jam! Thanks for sharing, my friend. Pinning (of course)! xo
    bague alhambra van cleef arpels papillon faux

    July 17, 2017 at 23:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Jesse Grillo Jesse Grillo

    Thanks for sharing your info. My Uncle turned me onto your blogs. Thank you!


    August 30, 2017 at 19:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Jesse Grillo

    Your article is absolutely on point! Kudos. I just saw your blogs on Saturday. I know old school Reddit pros would love this.


    August 31, 2017 at 14:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Manhattan Beach Marketing

    You pretty active on LinkedIn? You are absolutly an expert. You are a very persuasive writer. You have a lot of knowledge on this topic.


    August 31, 2017 at 23:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Venda Grátis

    Meal times may affect weight loss success – The Chart – CNN.com Blogs Anuncie e Venda Rápido no Maior Site de Classificados Grátis do Brasil. Anúncios Totalmente Gratuitos Indexados pelo Google! Acesse http://www.anunciosbr.com.br Anuncie, Divulgue, Compartilhe!
    Venda Grátis

    September 1, 2017 at 12:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Jesse Grillo

    Somehow you make time stop and fly at the same time. I really like your writing style.


    September 4, 2017 at 10:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. teytrswjtp

    Meal times may affect weight loss success – The Chart – CNN.com Blogs
    teytrswjtp http://www.gt0vqhzda093a0f93lt3ab745412sp60s.org/

    December 21, 2020 at 20:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Rosario Bourdon


    December 28, 2020 at 07:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Claude Mcgowan

    You would like to keep your heart healthy? The Ideal Method to do this is by maintaining a healthy diet full of low-fat foods. There are some foods that can not be out of your diet, what exactly are they? There Is scientific evidence suggesting that 70 of cases of coronary disease can be avoided by maintaining a healthy diet. Arthur Agatston, rea renownedardiologist and founder of the South Beach diet," says about ththis:hat's great for the heart is good for your mind and good for overall health. But, Do not believe you should just focus your attention on the principal meals. On the contrary, from breakfast to dinner, such as snacks, can be heart healthy if you set your mind. You only have to include certain foods, which ones? https://is.gd/tXYqFs


    December 29, 2020 at 10:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Alfonso Asselmeier

    Generally I do not read article on blogs, but I wish to say that this write-up very forced me to take a look at and do so! Your writing style has been surprised me. Thank you, very nice article.


    January 10, 2021 at 04:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. 검증사이트

    I am not sure where you're getting your info, but good topic.

    I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding more.
    Thanks for fantastic info I was looking for this information for my mission.

    January 17, 2021 at 06:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. frolep rotrem

    Nice read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing a little research on that. And he actually bought me lunch because I found it for him smile Thus let me rephrase that: Thanks for lunch! "Remember It is 10 times harder to command the ear than to catch the eye." by Duncan Maxwell Anderson.


    January 20, 2021 at 21:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Elenor Grafe

    Hello, you used to write excellent, but the last few posts have been kinda boring¡K I miss your tremendous writings. Past several posts are just a little out of track! come on!


    January 27, 2021 at 11:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Desmond Wamhoff

    What you’re about to see also reveals a potent mix that can flush out and REVERSE this deadly inflammatory protein…. This natural and safe mix originates from an island where people have no heart disease, healthy young blood pressure, no cases of diabetes type 2 and absolutely zero obesity… When you make it part of your everyday routine you’ll quickly notice some incredible changes such as…. Reduced belly fat… Increased energy and focus… Better sleep…. All by flushing out this one lethal agent in your blood… ==> Reverse The Root Cause Of Belly Fat, Heart Disease And High Blood Pressure With This Potent Natural Mix ->Click this link https://bit.ly/39p2J0R


    January 30, 2021 at 17:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Boost Twitter Likes

    Thanks for all your efforts that you have put in this. very interesting information.


    February 1, 2021 at 14:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. vuasongbac

    Nice recipe


    February 6, 2021 at 13:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. frolep rotrem

    I want to express my love for your kind-heartedness in support of those individuals that have the need for help on this particular concept. Your very own commitment to passing the solution all-around had become wonderfully functional and has consistently enabled employees like me to arrive at their dreams. Your entire warm and helpful useful information means a great deal to me and much more to my fellow workers. Best wishes; from each one of us.


    February 6, 2021 at 13:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. frolep rotrem

    Sweet blog! I found it while browsing on Yahoo News. Do you have any tips on how to get listed in Yahoo News? I've been trying for a while but I never seem to get there! Thanks


    February 6, 2021 at 16:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. froleprotrem

    Thank you for sharing superb informations. Your website is so cool. I'm impressed by the details that you have on this blog. It reveals how nicely you perceive this subject. Bookmarked this website page, will come back for more articles. You, my friend, ROCK! I found simply the information I already searched all over the place and just could not come across. What a perfect website.


    February 6, 2021 at 21:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. vuasongbac

    I love this recipe


    February 8, 2021 at 09:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. thesufitrader

    Interesting point


    February 8, 2021 at 09:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Odessa Lagrand

    Can you imagine... You wake up each morning... Pour a cup of coffee... Check your email... And find notifications of commissions you earned... WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING! And then the next day, same thing happens... As a matter of fact, this scene repeats itself day after day... Are you still dreaming? For some people, this IS a dream. But for a select few, this IS what happens everyday! Wanna know how to make it happen? I'll show you here https://tinyurl.com/y5lq8lns


    February 9, 2021 at 01:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. https://europa-road.eu/hu/gepszallitas-arak-gyor.php

    Hi there would you mind letting me know which hosting company you're working with? I've loaded your blog in 3 completely different web browsers and I must say this blog loads a lot faster then most. Can you recommend a good internet hosting provider at a honest price? Thanks, I appreciate it!


    February 9, 2021 at 03:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Fókuszpályázat pályázatíró cég

    Thank you, I have recently been searching for info approximately this topic for a long time and yours is the best I've came upon till now. But, what concerning the conclusion? Are you sure about the supply?


    February 9, 2021 at 05:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. network installation

    Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed surfing around your blog posts. After all I’ll be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write again soon!


    February 21, 2021 at 05:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. network installation

    Hi my friend! I want to say that this post is awesome, great written and come with almost all significant infos. I would like to see extra posts like this.


    February 21, 2021 at 05:47 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3

Leave a Reply to Manhattan Beach Marketing


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.