A Spanish study has revealed that eating lunch before 3:00p.m. may promote weight loss, as long as lunch is the main meal of the day. The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Murcia in Spain, Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, and it was reported in the International Journal of Obesity.
During the course of the study, 420 men and women with excessive weight in Murcia were observed for 20 weeks as they underwent a diet plan that required them to consume about 1,400 calories a day. The researchers found that subjects who had lunch earlier in the day experienced an average weight loss of 22 pounds, whereas those who ate lunch later only lost 17 pounds. Lunch is considered the main meal of the day in Spain.
The subjects were separated into two groups, namely, early eaters and late eaters. The main difference between the two groups was their meal times. The results showed that differences in hunger levels, sleep habits, and physical activity did not have a significant effect on weight loss. It was also discovered that the people in the group that ate later were generally more active in the evening, and they missed or ate lighter breakfasts more often than the other group.
An author of the study, Frank Scheer from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said that biological clocks and sleep have an effect on the regulation of weight. The clocks and cells in the body will not be properly connected if there is a mismatch between the meal timing and the sleep-wave cycle. He added that people should not only take into consideration the types of food they eat, but also their meal times.