Weight loss- not just what we eat, but when we eat it

posted May 2, 2014, 1:46 AM by Rebecca Smith

Weight loss can be hard enough as it is. We have all struggled through the ups and downs, through the plateaus where all our hard work seems to be getting only minor results and through the confusion of knowing what foods are really the best for us. Well what if I told you meal timing is just as important as the actual food we eat?

Recent studies looked at  the effects of meal timing on 420 participants and has been proven to show a relationship between the timing of food intake and weight regulation with increasing evidence showing a negative impact on weight regulation in participants who have unstructured or unusual meal times as opposed to those who have structured meals. Results from this study have shown that participants who ate their main meal late lost significantly less weight then those who had an earlier main meal. This study also found that late eaters on average had a significantly lower percentage of their total daily intake during breakfast or skipped breakfast completely, which could be contributing to the differences seen between the groups. They concluded that the timing of the main meal by itself seems to be the most determinant factor in weight loss effectiveness and therefore eating at the right time may be a relevant factor to consider in our goals to lose weight.

So what does this mean for us? Well, first let me start by saying its not as daunting as it appears.

Firstly just try small changes, for example for those who don’t eat breakfast, commit to having breakfast each morning. For those of us that do have breakfast, look at having it within an hour of getting up along with a glass of water to help kick start our metabolism for the day.

Secondly, Aim to have 5 small meals a day, or if you’d prefer think of it as your 3 meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) plus 2 small snacks; 1 between breakfast and lunch and the other between lunch and dinner.

Thirdly; drink plenty of water! Men should be aiming at having about 2.5- 3L a day whereas women are looking at having between 2-2.5L.

So let’s have a look at what’s going on in our bodies throughout the day.


Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day, possibly the most important meal. Just think, your body hasn’t eaten anything for up to 12 hours and as a result our carbohydrate energy reserves are low and our fat stores are also slowly being burned. So our goals for this meal is to support our fat metabolism and replenish our carbohydrate stores.

In terms of what we should be eating try a mix of things, for examples proteins such as eggs will be absorbed quickly and easily. Or a mix of simple and complex carbohydrates, the following foods are quick and easy to make plus make a delicious breakfast meal;

-          Eggs- scrambled or boiled with a slice of toast

-          Whole grain oatmeal with nuts or berries

Morning snack

By now our bodies are rebounding a bit from breakfast, our blood sugar levels are beginning to trail off and our hunger is starting to increase. We want to be looking for something to eat that’s small but will get us through until lunch. For example;

-          A small handful of nuts

-          A piece of fruit


Lunch, our second largest meal of the day, by this stage our bodies should be pretty well balanced, however the mid-morning snack may have worn off and we may require more energy for afternoon activities. So here we are looking to fuel our bodies with something that will provide our muscles with enough energy to keep us going for the rest of the day and support a moderate and even blood sugar level. For example;

-          Tuna  and salad wraps

-          Chicken salads

Afternoon snack

How many of us have gotten to 3-3:30pm at work and just hit a wall, the day tends to drag on forever and 5:30 can’t come quick enough? At this time in the afternoon there is a good chance the body is experiencing a slight energy slump as a result of a drop in our blood sugar levels from our lunch meal. So the goal of the afternoon snack is to get our blood sugar levels back up, here we are looking for a well-balanced snack that will focus on providing enough fuel to keep our muscles fed and get our blood sugar levels back on track

-          Banana’s are fantastic!

-          Protein bars/ Fruit bars (look for one with a low sugar content)


Remember this meal is important as it is the last time the body will have food over the next 10-12 hours, however we don’t want to consume a heavy high-carbohydrate meal right before we go to bed. Overnight our body’s metabolism will slow down to a point where it is only burning off enough energy to keep us functioning; i.e. breathing, our heart beating etc, so eating any meal right before bed will only result in the body storing any excess calories it doesn’t use – the opposite of what we want. For this meal we are looking at keeping the carbs low and the protein high, pack in the veggies and any lean meats or fish.

Any questions? I’m happy to help

Jess Markut

Personal trainer

Difference Personal Training Narellan

#Fitness #Weightloss #Diet #PersonalTraining