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 (277 Responses)
  1. Marty

    I think the countries that eat large meals midday have it right. Here in the U.S. our large evening meal sets us up for disaster especially when it is consumed within a few short hours of slumber. Eating the bulk of your calories early allows the body to burn off good and bad calories. I have have found also that smaller meals and not depriving oneself of things you desire help you stay on the proper path. I do not mean that we should eat whatever we want but with a balanced approach between food intake and exercise a healthy lifestyle is within reach for all.

    January 29, 2013 at 07:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • cmart

      It would require alot to move the large meal to midday. Like many people, I only get 1/2 hour for lunch. Even if I got an hour, I still don't have enough time to go home and cook a healthy meal, which means that the large meal would most likely be eaten at a resturant.

      January 29, 2013 at 10:31 | Report abuse |
    • Trent

      You can prepare your meal at home and take it to work.

      January 29, 2013 at 10:58 | Report abuse |
    • What

      C-mart and not S mart......

      He's right, I take leftovers from the night before every day – i eat a smaller portion of it for dinner, and take my larger portion the next day for lunch...and typically end up eating it at my desk. But excuses is the American Motto.....

      January 29, 2013 at 11:32 | Report abuse |
    • bczu

      I'm not hungry at all in the morning and I have to force myself to eat. Lunch time if i ate a big meal I would sit at my desk and try to fight going to sleep. The only time i can get a bigger meal down is later in the day.

      January 29, 2013 at 11:57 | Report abuse |
    • cmart

      You are assuming that where I work and all other places of employment have a fridge and microwave. I can assure you that this is not the case. Not everyone has an office to work in.

      January 29, 2013 at 12:08 | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      I generally only eat twice a day. A big lunch and then smaller dinner.

      BUT, I cut down the portion sizes on ALL meals. The result is I stay the same weight year round. I've never put on more weight than the 170-180lbs normal.

      January 29, 2013 at 12:38 | Report abuse |
    • Natalie

      It is not easy in this country to change the lifestyle. If I eat a large meal at lunchtime, I won't be able to work right after lunch. Let the Europeans enjoy their life and health and compare their lifestyles with us 🙂

      January 29, 2013 at 12:44 | Report abuse |
    • donutbuger

      People in Asia eat a big meal for dinner and they eat it very late around 9pm very close to going to bed. When is the last time you seem any news about any places in Asia having weight problem like we have in the US. I personally think the biggest and most important factor is what you eat and followed by how much and not when you eat it.

      January 29, 2013 at 12:47 | Report abuse |
    • jeff

      The one thing about all these studies is its not just calories in vs. calories out. They assume every calorie you eat is absorbed. Its doesn't happen (think corn – sorry). Sometimes the body is primed to absorb most of a meal, sometimes it isn't and won't.

      January 29, 2013 at 12:49 | Report abuse |
    • T. L. Curtis

      My husband has a PhD in Nutritional Sciences and he says the same thing. He'll eat later in the day, but it would be something like a candy bar or a small bag of chips. His biggest meal of the day is always lunch. He lost about 50 pounds using this method and walking for about an hour a day. Sounds like a plan that works!

      January 29, 2013 at 15:57 | Report abuse |
    • Ruby

      My biggest meal of the day is breakfast with a light to med. lunch and nothing after I get home from work. I do snack during the day, too. I try to eat nothing in the evening but occasionally I have dinner out with friends or whatever. I have been eating like this for 10 years after losing the weight gained from having 3 kids. This works for me but I know it wouldn't for everyone. My theory is since I'm more active during the day than at night, thats the time to consume the most.

      January 29, 2013 at 16:33 | Report abuse |
    • Mary1972

      I don't agree with that. Go to those countries where they have a large meal at midday and see how many heavy people are there. It depends on how they burn it. It is the fast life that prevents one to workout in any form that causes one to put on weight.

      January 29, 2013 at 19:00 | Report abuse |
  2. Cmon

    I wish scientists could figure out why its so hard to keep the weight off when your older. When i take a look at pics from my college years I looked so skinny but i know i used to eat like a pig. I know "our metabolism slows down" but i would like something more in depth.

    January 29, 2013 at 09:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Trent

      When you are younger you are growing, thus need more intake. All those years of eating like a pig have become a habit, and you continue eating like that while your body has less energy requirements. Meanwhile you have also probably become less active.

      January 29, 2013 at 10:56 | Report abuse |
    • ER

      You probably did a lot more at that age. You would be surprised the calorie loss you receive even if you just take a walk around the mall for a couple hours as opposed to sitting on the couch. I am guilty of having a more sedintary lifestyle the older I get, it happens to 99% of us.

      January 29, 2013 at 11:03 | Report abuse |
    • antiquity

      They have. Your metabolism natural slows as you age, and the amount of testosterone you produce decreases (which affects how your body distributes its mass). You require less calories as you age, yet very few people adjust for this and continue to eat as if they were a growing 15 year old boy.

      January 29, 2013 at 12:23 | Report abuse |
    • Noocrat

      In my college years I was walking all over campus, not sitting behind a desk.

      January 29, 2013 at 14:55 | Report abuse |
    • Duck Duck Goose

      You're dumb as a box of rocks. They've shown why already.

      January 29, 2013 at 15:51 | Report abuse |
    • Glen

      depends on how much older we are talking here, but it normally has more to do with the lack of resistance training exercise in the day to day. When we are younger we are naturally more active, whether it be in the gym, sports or just regular play or a physical job. As we get older we may hit the gym sparingly and do a mostly cardio workout, we may play a sport but it's only once a week and at a low level and our jobs tend to get less physical. You continue to eat as you always have but you naturally gain weight because you aren't firing on all cylinders like you once were. If you reintroduce some resistance training with weights or machines or even with your own body weight you will start to regain muscle and this will refire your engine (your body) into a fat burning machine it once was. Will you be as strong as you were in your 20's and 30's? maybe not but you don't need to be to burn fat 😉 Keep the sugars and carbohydrates low and it will come faster.

      January 29, 2013 at 23:32 | Report abuse |
  3. ER

    It doesn't matter when you eat. If you comsume less calories than your body uses in a day you will lose weight. Period. 3500 caloriess is roughly one pound of fat. When you consume 3500 calories less than normal in a given week let's say, you will lose about one pound of fat. It's not rocket science. Stop eating fatties.

    January 29, 2013 at 11:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • BlueCornMoon

      If that were totally true we wouldn't be having this conversation. People are biochemically different. I'm a lifetime weight watchers member & at meetings there are always people who follow the plan to the letter,exercise regularly & eat correctly & either don't lose for a long time,only lose ounces or stay at a plateau while a sibling,relative or spouse loses weight much easier & faster. In those cases you have to find new ways to trick your body into losing weight. I had to drastically reduce carbs...even whole grain ones to below recommendations... & increase protein to get off menopause weight. I sat down & figured out calories & it turned out that I was consuming MORE calories eating that way than I did with recommended protein & carb amounts. No way can I have all those whole grain & carb servings on the food pyramid. I'm not the only one like that. That's why many people succeeded on the Atkins & South beach diets that restrict carbs

      January 29, 2013 at 11:23 | Report abuse |
    • koko

      The Calories in/Calories out approach worked wonders for me. I lost 60 lbs over a year's time, and have kept it off for 6 years. When you restrict calories, you are forced to think differently about what you eat to ensure you stay satisfied throughout the day. In turn, better habits develop naturally. The other thing I think is KEY is to give yourself a free meal once a week where you can eat and drink whatever you want.

      January 29, 2013 at 12:33 | Report abuse |
    • Liz in Seattle

      But if you eat the bulk of your calories earlier in the day, you have more opportunity to use them. If you ate nothing all day and then had a huge meal right before bed, your nody would not be able to process all those calories all at once (especially when your metabolic rate has been slowed by sleep) and you coudl gain weight despite eating fewer calories total. Plus you woudl be tired all day wihtout caloric input.

      I eat five meals a day, but all of them are fairly light. It's just what my body wants. But I definitely try to front-load my calories earlier in the day at breakfast and my mid-morning snack (that's when I eat things like peanut butter or cheese). It works for me :).

      January 29, 2013 at 13:36 | Report abuse |
    • me

      Of course this is correct. Calories are calories. It's plain science. Unfortunately, people who want excuses not to eat healthfully or eat less will look for other explanations and diet scams. Last year, a nutrition professor set out to prove that only calories matter for weight loss by eating nothing but junk on a "Twinkie diet." But, he also ate less calories and lost weight. Proof that no matter what you eat, less calories leads to less weight. Maybe not good nutrition or health, but the weight itself is completely about calories.

      January 29, 2013 at 19:59 | Report abuse |
  4. Matt

    It's not rocket science. Try to eat 5-6 meals a day, spaced 2-2 1/2 hours apart. Eat lean proteins, complex carbs, low-fat dairy, and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Get 30 min of exercise at least 3 times a week and you're good to go.

    January 29, 2013 at 11:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • rapierpoint

      True. I'm surprised that this study seems to be reported as groundbreaking. I've heard for years, since at least the 70's, that how much you eat, when you eat, how much you exercise and when you exercise all play key roles in weight gain/loss.

      January 29, 2013 at 11:48 | Report abuse |
    • what

      Can you provide any research that backs up anything you are saying? Or are you just spitting up what you read from your girlfriends Cosmo? Check out leangains.com and read what a well thought out, researched, and supported study looks like.

      January 29, 2013 at 17:48 | Report abuse |
  5. Robert

    Lunch after 3pm? I thought that was called "dinner"?

    January 29, 2013 at 11:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Boater

      You obviously don't work a job where you often wind up in critical situations and cannot just take a lunch based on the clock. MANY times, it's 3pm before I get a lunch.

      January 29, 2013 at 19:37 | Report abuse |
  6. taco bender

    This is not true. It doesn't matter when you eat. All that matters is how many calories you take in vs. how many calories you burn. You can eat all 2000 calories at 1 am and nothing else and you will do the same if you eat 4 500 calorie meals throughout the day.

    January 29, 2013 at 11:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kevin

      The way people think they can casually dismiss the conclusions of a scientific study based on their own (faulty) reasoning or anecdotal "evidence" says a lot. Get some serious critiques of the study done or keep your ignorant thoughts to yourself.

      January 29, 2013 at 15:17 | Report abuse |
    • me

      Kevin there are dozens of studies proving that it's completely about calories in vs calories out. That's well-established. Unfortunately, dieters are always looking for some other way to lose weight fast, but fad diets aren't going to work.

      It's important to read the entire article. It ends with a disclaimer that the study isn't valid.

      "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."

      January 29, 2013 at 20:03 | Report abuse |
  7. Mark

    There are countless studies that have looked into the time that you eat at and weight loss. They have all shown it is a myth. There is zero truth to it. This one study is either a statistical anomaly or they messed with their results to get the answer they wanted.

    January 29, 2013 at 11:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Will S


      January 29, 2013 at 11:31 | Report abuse |
    • me

      It's amusing that the last line of the article is a disclaimer that the results are not scientifically valid. Why bother publishing?

      January 29, 2013 at 20:04 | Report abuse |
  8. Matt

    @Robert no, it's supper. Dinner would be early-to-mid-afternoon. 😛

    Calories in, calories out. These studies go back in forth. One group will find something out, then another group finds out the complete opposite. When you eat has never mattered. *What* you eat matters slightly more, especially with respect to heart health. But for weight management, calories in should match calories out, on a daily-ish basis.

    The moral of the story is, you cannot manage weight healthily via eating alone. You *must* manage weight and heart health with a sensible (most of the time) diet combined with a good activity–getting up off the couch, out of the computer chair, and moving. Walking, lifting, moving. Healthy living is a comprehensive lifestyle that focuses on all aspect; not just on what time of day the meal occurs.

    January 29, 2013 at 11:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Leonore H. Dvorkin

    I eat more at breakfast and lunch than at dinnertime and try hard to eat healthily all day long. My "dinner" is most often a fruit smoothie of plain yogurt, various fresh fruits, some whey powder for protein, and some flaxseed. I flavor it with cinnamon and vanilla. But for me, being post-menopausal has made weight loss WAY more difficult. That's even with at least 5-6 hrs. a week of vigorous exercise: weight training, walking, and using our home treadmill and exercise bicycle. Now I'm trying getting up from my desk (I work at home) several times during the day and going downstairs and hopping on the treadmill for 2-3 minutes before resuming my work. It feels as though it helps to keep my metabolism higher, and it's invigorating. This is not a method that would be practical for most people, but I hope it will help me. Most people could probably move at least a little more during the day if they put their minds to it. Even walking around or marching in place during TV commercials can help - along with not snacking while you watch your program! 🙂

    January 29, 2013 at 11:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Natalie

      Very good common sense Leonore.

      January 29, 2013 at 12:49 | Report abuse |
  10. HB

    I agree with the more calories burned than consumed approach....however metabolism plays a role as well. Everyone is different. I joined a gym in September and began working out 5 days a week for at least 90 minutes each time (I am fortunate to have a flexible work schedule). I started eating healthier foods (NOT dieting) and smaller meals several times a day. I do not deny myself food, but I practice moderation. It has worked for ME. I've lost 53 lbs in 5 months and I am at my goal. I feel better over all and my doctor is thrilled.

    January 29, 2013 at 11:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ben

      What exercise do you do? What food do you eat?

      January 29, 2013 at 16:08 | Report abuse |
    • HB

      Hey Ben,

      I generally start with one hour of cardio – primarily on the elliptical. I am continually increasing resistance and speed over time to keep my body challenged. I then do an hour of resistance machines, free weights, and core exercises. Again, I change things up so that my body does not become accustomed to one specific regimen.

      I do not deny myself any foods, but I also don't wolf down half a pizza and a dozen wings. I eat lots fruits, low-fat low-sugar yogurts, healthy nuts, lean proteins, fish, and veggies – both cooked and raw. I have a sweet tooth, but because I eat so much natural sugar through fruits I don't really desire it any more. When I want it I will eat SOME pizza or whatever. I don't make it a habit and I don't pig out (I used to).

      I don't feel deprived of anything in the least. I feel great since I began exercising and my body is much healthier. I eat when I'm hungry and in no way starve myself. My anxiety has decreased and my overall mood has improved. So that's it. I move more and eat less – and sensibly. For me it had to be a change of lifestyle. Diets don't work. Eating healthy and exercising does (at least for me).

      For reference, I am a 44 year old female and have been moderately overweight for years.

      January 29, 2013 at 19:24 | Report abuse |
  11. Plantiful

    Scientists discovered the reason for obesity years ago, and it is quite simple: if you eat more calories than you expend in the day, those extra calories become fat. Human bodies are designed to to physical work, which has largely disappeared from the modern (e.g. American) lifestyle: raking and shoveling are all by extinct, all mowers are ride on, hard to find a stairwell anywhere. Add to that the restaurant eating that is done today: people dine out more often than before, and if they eat anything at home, it comes in a box. All of this food is loaded with additional fat (to make you feel full with extra calories), salt (for taste and high blood pressure), and sugar (for taste, extra calories and diabetes).

    Just look at the ridiculous debate over banning half gallon sized cups of soda in NYC. High fructose corn syrup requires immediate response from insulin and the pancreas, and the other half (fructose) requires immediate action from the liver to process. Real sugar does not cause these issues to such an extent. Granted, this ban should also cover the Big Gulp and Super Big Gulp barrels served at 7-Elevens, but they have somehow manage to avoid this matter, somehow.

    Too many calories, too little work = fat people (yes, there are exceptions, but this is the majority of the obesity issue). Not genes, not timing, ... these are all minor factors.

    January 29, 2013 at 11:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Boater

      Based on many peoples' jobs, they could vomit up calories and STILL consume more than they expend all day long. I work in 3rd level tech support, providing computer network engineering support for many of the major internet sites. If I am dealing with a critical situation (which is often), I am glued to my chair sometimes for an entire 8-10+ hour shift. Sometimes there isn't even time to eat a proper meal, if you get to eat one at all. Your brain doesn't burn anywhere near as much calories as the rest of your body....

      January 29, 2013 at 19:40 | Report abuse |
  12. Bob

    Hasnt this exact point been made AGES ago?? The advice to not eat within X hours of going to bed has been around FOREVER!

    January 29, 2013 at 12:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ava

      Kudos to you, Bob. Weight Watchers has been preaching this fact for more than 25 years, perhaps longer! This is NOT new news and it's so sad when Mainstream Media thinks they've just discovered it for the first time! Sheesh! 🙂

      January 29, 2013 at 15:49 | Report abuse |
  13. antiquity

    I agree that the timing of your meals makes a difference, but I have found it great success using a far different philosophy. Just a few rules:
    – don't eat things with ingredients. (for example, if you want nuts buy raw almonds, not Planter's Smokehouse almonds with a long list of ingredients. Eat veggies, some fruit, eggs, organic meats, yams, brown rice........ things without a list of ingredients)
    – eat only proteins (eggs and meat), nuts, and greens during the day until 5 pm. You'd be surprised how easy this is. It will cut out any processed lunch or carb-heavy breakfast, and leave you feeling energized, light, and fresh.
    – add carbs in the PM, and eat your big meal hear. For example, have salmon, brown rice, and a huge salad for dinner. Have 1-2 pieces of fruit like berries for dessert. Have seconds if you want (especially if you're exercising, you'll need the calories).

    Your body composition will change tremendously if you do this. Of course, you'll need to train too 3-4 days a week but you need to exercise regardless of your diet plan.

    January 29, 2013 at 12:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. D.F. Summers

    I am 70 years old. If I went into a coma when I graduated from high school and came out of it this morning and looked around I would think that I was on another planet.

    January 29, 2013 at 13:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Plantiful

      Yes, you would be on an Earth where the people from Disney's WALL-E inhabited the place.

      January 29, 2013 at 13:57 | Report abuse |
  15. betty

    I agree ,that some meals in different states or places have food that supposedly say that its healthy but its not.People should take care of their health because eating too much won't help you lose weight.

    January 29, 2013 at 13:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Lineotype

      Wow Betty, what a profound statement.

      January 29, 2013 at 20:42 | Report abuse |
  16. StatingtheObvious

    This "study" doesn't offer any compelling reason to not look at all the research that says meal timing and frequency are irrelevant from a metabolic standpoint. If a certain way of eating helps you feel sated and helps eating behavior, then great. It has nothing to with any metabolic process.

    January 29, 2013 at 13:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. JT

    Maybe next time you should put the disclaimer about not being able to correlate these two findings as the first sentenance of the article.

    Did they do anything to measure calories in vs. out?

    I stopped eating breakfast a few years ago. I realized that putting 400 calories into my stomach at 8:00 wasn't going to make me any less hungry come 1:00 or 8:00 that night. Eating 100 or less was just going to make me hungry.

    So I try to eat around 500-800 calories for lunch then the around 1000-1200 for dinner. Maybe less if I'm not that hungry.

    It seems better in my opinion to "save" those calories for later in the day... maybe you won't even desire them. On the other hand, if you go ahead and eat them first thing in the morning you're already in the hole so to speak as far as what you can eat later on. I'd rather wait for a few hours to go to lunch hungry than go to sleep hungry.

    January 29, 2013 at 13:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. but you already knew that

    Very first paragragh: "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."

    And this is a NEW study? Duh, like who didn't already know this?!

    Needless to say, I didn't finish the rest of the article – I just couldn't get past that first remark that this is a new study (like we didn't already know that if you eat late in the day, you gain weight).

    Call me a troll, you're right – I'm outta here.

    January 29, 2013 at 13:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. JLG

    I always prefer to eat my dinner by 5. unfortunately for me dinner is usually larger then lunch because of my hectic work schedule. If I eat later in the evening closer to bed time I always feel really sluggish. It's kind of a given if you eat right before you sleep you won't burn it off with movement. 🙂 Cheers.

    January 29, 2013 at 14:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. iceload9

    "Fasting for too long can put the body into so-called “storage mode.”" Is it true there are people who never have to eat again? How much really can this "storage mode" effect the average American? Another myth.

    January 29, 2013 at 14:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • what

      Yup, it takes a lot longer than the average person is going to go without eating before your body starts to prepare itself for starvation. This entire article is just repeating the same crap that has been repeated for years. Check out http://www.leangains.com for some actual knowledge.

      January 29, 2013 at 17:54 | Report abuse |
  21. Brenda

    This has been known for quite some time; eat more earlier and you will burn off more throughout the day. Some have even said we should flip our meals since dinner is bigger, eat like it earlier.

    January 29, 2013 at 14:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. TampaMel

    This is a crock. Your body needs a certain number of calories each day just to survives. This assume you do nothing each day. This is called your Basel Metabolic Rate (BMR). Then, if you add any sort of activity you start burning more calories increasing your daily calorie requirement higher than the BMR. No matter what you eat or when you eat, you need to burn calories. In fact the more strenuous the activity the high you can push the BMR (at least for a period of time).

    Time of day does not matter. Also if you get to the bottom of the article you will find a disclaimer of sorts.

    January 29, 2013 at 14:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Shalaich

    Well ,Duh!!!! What else would it be if it wasn't food????

    January 29, 2013 at 14:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. long john

    just stop consuming soooo much food, you crying oigs

    January 29, 2013 at 14:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Princesharley

    Why doesn't anyone address the people who CANNOT gain weight! I can't find anything anywhere that talks about that issue whether it be from a super fast metabolism or from lifes stress/trauma. HELP!

    January 29, 2013 at 14:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • John

      That's easy, eat high energy foods like candy, pastries, cakes, fat filled foods, breads and such. Especially candy, the energy in it is too much to use for normal activity so your body will quickly store it in fat cells and you'll be hungry soon after. It's easy to gain as much weight as you want... rapidly.

      January 29, 2013 at 16:37 | Report abuse |
    • Suzanne

      Eat a lot late at night?

      January 29, 2013 at 17:04 | Report abuse |
  26. MysteriaKiito

    As someone who has lost a lot of weight, I think this is a load of cr*p. I eat a late breakfast. I hate eating too early, it usually means I end up having low blood sugar sooner and more often during the day(I struggle with hypoglycemia, not to be mistaken with diabetes). I usually eat breakfast at noon, lunch at 3 or 4, and a small dinner around 6 or 7. I snack between those times and well into the night up until about 10 at the latest. I still lost 140 lbs altogether. As long as you're not eating round the clock, like at 3 AM or something, you're FINE. Eating after 8 PM isn't going to kill you, eating a late breakfast doesn't magically make you gain more weight and neither does a late lunch!

    January 29, 2013 at 14:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. long john

    2400 calories is enough for one day, if you want more you really need to get off your fat @@@@@ and move. you should not need someone to tell you this at your age. Stupid people will always be fat and lazy. It's in there genes and that is why no oen wants to get in there jeans, LOL

    January 29, 2013 at 14:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • frmrma

      I find it entertaining that someone who doesn't know the proper use of "their" and "there" is actually referring to others as stupid!

      January 29, 2013 at 14:35 | Report abuse |
  28. long john

    I decided a while ago to control myself, I ate what ever I wanted, but controlled the portion, and got off my fat @$$ and got moving. I am averaging a 1.8 lb loss per week and am down 50+ pounds. Everyone stop whinning and do something. Only you can help yourself.

    January 29, 2013 at 14:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Earthling

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

    So what's the difference between a weight gain and a decrease in weight loss?

    January 29, 2013 at 14:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. JoyRide

    I am an Asian and I have balanced weight (164 lbs with 5'10 height). Start your day by drinking 2 glass of little warmer water (6:30 AM). Have bath, prepare your kids for daycare and have breakfast (oat meal or cereal w/milk and honey, 1 banana, a cup of tea by 7:45) and then go to work. Coffee around 10:00. Haven lunch between 12-1:00 pm w/chicken or turkey or fish sandwich, and a non fat yogurt. Around 4:30 pm have an apple. Dinner around 7-8:00pm with rice, fish, vegi curry. I eat beef once a week and I never buy any canned food and of course I do not like restaurant food

    January 29, 2013 at 14:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • archie

      So whats your point....

      January 29, 2013 at 16:31 | Report abuse |
  31. Patrish

    I am a late day eater, yes, I eat breakfast, but the most yummy meal (even soup) as around 7 to 8 PM. Yes, I'm heavy and I know why, but pattern are hard to change. I also prefer to exercise later in the day, forget this 'up at dawn crap!'

    January 29, 2013 at 14:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Thom

      Be careful with soup. If it's canned, it's loaded with salt. I cut my sodium to 1200mg per day. Lost 10 lbs and now I'm off meds for my blood pressure. 115/68. I'm 52.

      January 30, 2013 at 09:29 | Report abuse |
  32. Thenextstep

    What nincompoop doesm't know that what you eat affects your weight. Also, what time you eat it.......... Geeeeze, its not Rocket Science, only common sense.

    January 29, 2013 at 15:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. rad666

    It is at least a starting point for some people.

    January 29, 2013 at 15:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Chris

    It's hard to do it this way because no matter what I'll be hungry in a few hours.

    January 29, 2013 at 15:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. calvin

    Doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that if you eat the larger meal later in the evening, you're obviously not going to be active for much longer to help burn it off. This article or whatever study it was turned out to be a waste of time. Just plain old common sense, but unfortunately a lot of people lack common sense these days.

    January 29, 2013 at 15:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. nonsense

    There is always gastric bypass.
    Even that has its problems. Some with weight issues have an emotional tie to their food. If you don't fix the head you will never fix the mouth.

    January 29, 2013 at 15:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. AC

    This is old news. A professor, Dr. Todd Easton, already wrote the book on this back in 2009. CNN hasn't even reference his work in this blog article.

    The When Diet: Mathematically Optimizing Eating and Exercise for Weight Loss
    Author: Dr. Todd Easton
    ISBN-10: 0981511651
    ISBN-13: 978-0981511658

    January 29, 2013 at 16:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. John

    Science answered this years ago, decades actually. If you eat too many calories each day, you get fatter each day, and if you eat not enough calories each day, you get skinnier each day. This is science, not magic studies with not enough people or any published results that can be verified. For example, how many calories did each person studied consume? What was their starting weight and calories burned from physical activity each day? What do you mean they didn't take that data? Didn't think so... magic stuides to confuse people so the diet and food industries can keep people fat, to make more money off them... we've never seen that before have we? No, never...

    January 29, 2013 at 16:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Joe

    Stop eating and exercise more. Drink lots of water. Drinking water will make you feel full. Do not eat at fast food places. Or do not eat anything that has been deep fried. Eat lots of chicken. Its packed with protein. Commit do not chicken out. Do not fall for temptations. Drink water or exercise when you feel the urge to eat.

    January 29, 2013 at 16:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Snake

    Well, DUH. I've been telling (my fellow) Americans this for TWENTY YEARS.

    Americans have a habit of taking in the most calories (their dinner) at a time when you, and your body, are slowing down to rest. Lunch should ALWAYS be the biggest meal of the day, and meals after 5 P.M. should have reduced portion size as well as reduced carb intake.

    January 29, 2013 at 16:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. west coaster

    You wonder why Americans are such fat a $ $ e s. They don't eat to provide the body with nutrition, they eat as a reward for being diligent to the puritan brainlessness work ethic. That is why dinner is such big stinking deal. Do you really need to stock up on energy so you can go to bed? It is a reward for "right living". A clear example of an eating disorder, when food is used for anything except what it is...fuel. We eat for only one reason; because God/evolution made us need to consume calories in order for the machine to run, if it wasn't for that I'd be more than happy to skip the whole "I've got some – you don't, hahahaha – shows that god loves me but hates you" food game.

    You want world peace?

    feed all the hungry, pretty simple in todays mega corporate farming environment.

    Not so big on profits though...peace that is.

    January 29, 2013 at 17:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. SLC

    Has anyone tried INU-Slim yet. My wife has been using this for a month and she can't even finish big meals anymore.

    January 29, 2013 at 17:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. what

    West Coaster you see pretty angry about food. Are you hungry?

    January 29, 2013 at 17:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • west coaster

      nope, just not a fat greedy blob of liposplooge.

      Share, not hord.

      January 29, 2013 at 19:22 | Report abuse |
  44. Dr. Easton

    An interesting fact is that this is not the first research done on the concept of when to eat. There exists The When Diet, which is mathematically the least miserable diet. Eliminating the last calories of the days results in the diet that incurs the least hunger. If you have tried and failed numerous diets, you should try it. The diet also states that exercise later in the day is more beneficial for weight loss.

    January 29, 2013 at 17:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Harvey Wallbannger

    Still don't fully understand this. Simple laws of physics would seem to indicate if you burn 1000 calories more over a 24 hour period than you take in; you should lose a given amount of weight. It shouldn't matter when you intake the food just as long as you have that 1000 calorie difference.

    January 29, 2013 at 17:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. D.F. Summers

    I appreciate the information about Wall E (the sad case...). I did not know same. Yes, that is how people look to me (now).

    January 29, 2013 at 18:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Big Boned

    It shouldnt take a study for people to understand that eating more later in the day isnt good. I personally feel hungrier after work so I try to eat as soon as possible and at least give myself time to digest before sleepytime. One should never eat in bed or pile on food and then sleep, your heart rate is lowered while sleeping. BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY EXERCISE

    January 29, 2013 at 18:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Jeremy

    None of this is true. Meal timing is irrelevant for the most part unless you're about to go train or you haven't eaten in a day.

    January 29, 2013 at 18:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Clatonian

    I would be a testomonial on the study. I don't eat all day (IBS) and eat late at night then sleep on it. Not obese, but could lose some pounds....

    January 29, 2013 at 19:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. lilyq

    Eat like a king at breakfast, a commoner at lunch, and a peasant at supper.

    January 29, 2013 at 19:49 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5

Post a comment


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.