I am counting calories! So I can eat any time…can’t I? Not exactly.
One interesting tip that almost everyone believes is that weight loss is a result of direct control of calorie intake irrespective of the time when it is consumed.
In other words eating light and less frequent meals throughout the day can help in weight loss.
Interestingly a research study proves that times at which at meals are consumed can aid in implementing an effective weight loss program.
How the study was done
10 participants were chosen and then divided in two groups were analysed for 15 weeks by giving them same energy intake but distributed along the day in two different ways. The distribution patterns were:
- AM pattern (inclined more towards mornings) : 35% at breakfast, 35% at lunch,15% at dinner and 15% at evening snack
- PM pattern(inclined more towards evenings): 15% at breakfast, 15% at lunch, 35% at dinner and 35% at evening snack
Exercise regimes were implemented in the form of walking, aerobic exercise and weight training after breakfast and lunch. Body weights were recorded daily No nutritional supplements or weight loss medications were provided.
So what was the outcome of this experimental study?
Results indicated that ingestion of heavy meals in morning leads to greater weight loss as a result of loss of fat free or lean mass (generally muscle mass).
While consuming heavy meals in the evening preserves fat free mass and hence reduced weight loss is observed.
How does this occur?
Lean mass is preserved by consuming large meals in the evening due to a number of reasons. Glycogen (a form in which glucose is stored in body tissue) levels in human muscle are increased after periods of exercise which are followed by carbohydrate intake.
As per the schedule followed in the study, the PM pattern involved greater consumption of carbohydrates after exercise periods conducted in the morning and afternoon in comparison to carbohydrate intake obtained by AM pattern.
This led to increased production of glycogen in muscles and prevented loss of lean muscle mass.
Also activity of various hormones such as growth hormone, insulin etc affects the loss of fat free mass. Growth hormone concentrations increase during sleep cycles and it favours protein deposition- another factor supporting preservation of fat free mass.
Rates of oxidation of fats and carbohydrates varied in each meal pattern and significantly affected the goal of weight loss and the energy spent or utilized.
What does this mean?
So, if you are looking for effective weight loss – a larger meal in the morning is better than the one in evening even though calorie intake may be equal in both cases.
This research might just guide you to change your meal timings for a healthier and fitter you. !