You’ve probably heard before that if you’re trying to shed a few kilos, you shouldn’t pig out just before bedtime.
But experts have long been divided on whether this age-old advice is fact or fiction.
However, new research has attempted to shed a little more light on the issue, with studies supporting the idea that eating at a specific time of day can affect your weight loss results.
Late night nibbles
A recent study by the University of Surrey of found that the body deals with calories better at certain times of the day. Late at night was shown to be the worst time to gorge on sugar and fat. That’s because, at these times, blood levels of these substances are already high.
An additional piece of research by scientists at the Loma Linda University School of Public Health in California supported the findings. It suggested that a long 18 or 19 hour overnight fast contributed to weight loss.
The takeaway? Resist those urges for a midnight feast.
Don’t skip breakfast
The same Californian study found that people who regularly ate breakfast tended to lose more weight than those who opted to skip the meal.
Those whose largest meal of the day was breakfast saw the largest decrease in body mass index (BMI), as compared with those who had lunch or dinner as their main meal.
Why? Because breaking the overnight fast fires up your metabolism for the day ahead, turning you into a calorie-burning machine.
Try to incorporate some protein into your breakfast. It will help optimise the brain’s ability to send messages to the rest of your body, waking you up. It will also help to stave off hunger and keeping you energised until lunchtime.
What about fasting?
Alternate-day fasting has recently grown in popularity as a weight-loss technique.
But a new study suggests that it is no more effective than more traditional methods of counting calories.
Although the University of Illinois study found both techniques to be effective to a similar degree, the rigorous nature of fasting saw more people drop out thereby reducing the long-term impact.
A simple formula
Despite the findings of all these studies, the main principle of weight loss remains the same. Calories out must exceed calories in for weight loss to occur.
Here is are the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommendations for daily calorie intake:
|Person||Calories per day|
|Women, 19-51 years old||1,800-2,400|
|Men, 19-51 years old||2,200-3,000|
|Children and adolescents, 2-18 years old||1,000-3,200|
Don’t stray too far from these numbers when trying to lose weight – the recommendation is to trim around 500 calories from the suggested figure. Any more than this can have a number of side effects including constipation, nausea, diarrhoea and fatigue.
Above all, ensure you are getting a balanced diet and try to limit empty calories – those from fats and sugars with little other nutritional benefit.
Do you make sure you eat a good breakfast?