When talking about health and weight, we focus primarily on diet and exercise. We rarely speak of timing or frequency. However, there have been two significant changes in recent history as to how American’s eat. In the ‘70s, prior to the obesity epidemic, we had neither snacks nor the food pyramid or any of its descendants. Americans ate three sensible meals a day. Then we were told to swap fats for carbs, and that frequent snacks instead of whole meals were a healthy option. There were no studies to suggest that that was true. Now, healthy, non-shift-working adults eat an average of 4.2-10.5 times a day, and 23 percent of their calories are from snacks.
A study found that more than half its participants ate during a 14.75-hour-long window of the day. When overweight people in that group made a change and instead ate during a 10-11-hour period, they had more energy, slept better and lost weight. That was without changing their diet — just their timing! Additionally, eating late at night has been linked to weight gain, high blood sugar and other metabolic problems. Some research suggests only eating between eight AM and two PM, but that can be hard to do between work, errands, family and other responsibilities.
A study of Seventh-day Adventists showed that people who ate fewer times a day weighed less, even when eating the same things and people who ate more frequently. People who ate their most substantial meal at breakfast had a lower BMI than people who consumed large dinners. Using a group of just Seventh-day Adventists as the study’s participants meant that researchers knew their diets were largely similar before the study began.
A great way to take better control of your meal times is through meal prepping. Creating multiple meals at once that can last in the fridge or freezer makes eating at the correct time less of a hassle. If eating breakfast is inconvenient because of the time needed to cook in the morning, prepping breakfasts beforehand can be a big help. This can help you possibly eat during the eight AM to two PM window. Take some inspiration from this list and make yourself a protein-packed breakfast to get your day off on the right foot!
Speak to your doctor before taking up any diet like intermittent fasting. Basic guidelines do not apply to everyone. With individualistic health needs, it’s always best to check with a doctor or dietician before making big shifts in your lifestyle.