A recent study on weight loss mechanisms found that although people who eat more in the evening and less in the morning do not lose less weight than those who eat more in the morning and less in the evening, they are more likely to feel hungry or have an increased appetite, making the weight loss program fail or even increase the probability of rebound.
The current scientific advice on healthy diet for weight loss is basically in line with the traditional concept of “eat well in the morning, eat well in the afternoon and eat less in the evening”, which tends to put the most abundant meal in the morning rather than in the evening, and this theory has been confirmed by many scientific experiments.
However, a recent study by a team of researchers at the University of Aberdeen in the UK found that on the level of energy expenditure alone, different time allocation of energy intake during the day (eating more in the morning or more in the evening) did not affect total daily energy expenditure or resting metabolic rate. In other words, the results of weight loss were essentially the same.
“We found that there is no optimal time to eat to control weight under conditions of weight loss,” said Alexandra Johnstone, the study’s lead scientist. “Energy is used equally well no matter what time of day the calories are consumed.”
The study divided 30 obese/overweight subjects into two groups to lose weight food with the same total daily calories, comparing the two groups of eating more in the morning (45%:35%:20% calorie allocation for breakfast, lunch and dinner) and eating more in the evening (20%:35%:45%) in a follow-up study. after 4 weeks the two groups were swapped and served as each subject’s own control.
The experiment provided subjects with about 2,700 calories of food per day. Recipes for the breakfast group included cereal, buttered toast, eggs, ham, cheese, juice and yogurt; recipes for the dinner group included beef with mushroom salad and rice, penne with bolognese or pork chops with potatoes and peas.
During the 8-week experiment, both groups of subjects consumed an average of just over 1,700 calories of food per day, and both groups lost an average of about 7 pounds, with essentially no difference.
However, subjects generally responded that they did not generally feel as hungry all day after the meal as they did when they ate more for dinner during the 4 weeks they ate more for breakfast. Researchers believe that a hearty breakfast can help dieters comply with a weight loss program by suppressing appetite to a greater extent, improving weight loss success and reducing the risk of half-heartedness or even rebound, so it is more conducive to long-term weight loss or weight control.
The researchers also acknowledged that the study had some limitations in the experimental design that may have had some impact on the results. For example, the experiment was conducted under free-living conditions, and while this was closer to real-life conditions, it also increased the chances that participants would violate the rules, such as being left with a large amount of food offered and choosing non-recipe foods on their own, even though these factors were estimated.
In addition, there was only 1 week to adjust in between the two rotations, which may not be enough to reduce the impact of the previous recipe period and thus reduce the difference between the two groups.
More research: It’s better to eat a big meal in the morning for weight loss
This new study does not contradict the general perception theory of weight loss effectiveness in previous studies in general. Several previous studies have confirmed that a hearty breakfast may enhance weight loss.
One of the most cited 2013 studies of the weight loss effects of a diet containing the same number of calories (calories) consumed by 93 overweight women over a 12-week period found that those who consumed most of their calories in the morning lost an average of 5.1 kg extra weight than those who consumed more calories in the evening.
A 2020 study also showed that the group that ate a large meal in the morning had a significantly higher perceived satiety compared to the group that ate a large meal in the evening.
And the study also found that both groups of subjects preferred and craved high-fat content foods in the evening, but the group that ate large meals in the evening had a greater overall need for high-fat foods, than the hearty breakfast group.
Herbalist doctor: Appetite control is most important for successful weight loss
Sue Xu, a Chinese herbalist living in New Zealand, has over 30 years of clinical experience. She believes that appetite control is more important than calorie reduction (eating less or burning more calories) in order to lose weight successfully and keep it off for a long time.
She said that from the perspective of traditional Chinese medicine, there is a time and pattern to the movement of the human body, and different organs have different periods of activity during the day. For example, the large intestine meridian is active between 5 and 7 a.m., the stomach between 7 and 9 a.m., and the spleen next (9 to 11 a.m.), so the food eaten in the morning can be most fully digested and absorbed.
“A hearty breakfast not only makes you feel energized, but it’s also enough to make you feel full, which curbs your appetite.” She said.
On the contrary, eating a big meal at night, especially after 7 p.m., when one’s spleen and stomach are at their weakest, food cannot be best digested when it enters the body, then it can only be converted into fat and stored up, causing a burden to the body.
She said that weight loss should not be considered simply in terms of calories, but as a whole, and it is important to follow the laws of nature in order to maximize weight loss. If you simply emphasize calorie reduction, you may rebound because you can’t control your appetite, and such examples are common.
She suggested that although not eating after noon, which may be difficult for many people to do, we can try to put the food we really want to eat into the morning, and it’s okay to eat a little more, which can help relieve the stress generated by weight loss and control appetite.
“Another thing that is also relatively easy is to not put any food in your mouth after 7 p.m. As long as you can hold on to that, then you can effectively lose weight and control your weight.”