Timing can be everything “in the right place at the right time” and this phrase can also sum up the time slot you choose to fuel your body. Now in starting the day with your first meal, we know that it means you are breaking your fast aka-breakfast. But how many of you are consuming breakfast within an hour of getting up? I’m not clairvoyant, but somehow I think most folks may not be eating within that 60-minute window. The body metabolism slows down during the hours of sleeping in an effort to reserve energy; when you wake up it is important to fuel the body, eating the calories needed to get the body metabolism off to an optimal start.
According to the National Weight Control Registry, 78 percent of successful dieters eat breakfast daily. Eating breakfast can help in curbing the appetite and preventing overeating later in the day. The first meal of the day can also help improve mood and cognition. Good choices for the first meal of the day include carbohydrates, lean protein and healthy fat. Whole grain cereals, eggs, low-fat cheese and peanut or almond butter are examples of best breakfast options.
Throughout the day the body has a characteristic rhythm and for the best results in maintaining a goal weight I advise clients to rely on this built-in timer that is linked to the body clock and needs of each individual. Generally speaking you should eat lunch 4-1/2 to 5 hours after breakfast. Dinner should follow 4-1/2 to 5 hours after lunch.
It is important to add snacks to your diet during the day. Once considered taboo, snacking can be a curb to overeating and can help to normalize blood sugar levels. In choosing snacks during the day the best choices are not the sugar-laden treats we often consider as a gift, but whole fruits such as oranges or apples, lean proteins such as hummus, Greek-style yogurt, or a small portion of nuts.
Dinner should be consumed before 8:00 p.m. or earlier. Contrary to tradition, this meal should not be the largest meal of the day. For best health you want to consume the bulk of your calories earlier in the day, which allows time to burn the calories off during the hours when you are most active. Eating the last meal of the day earlier allows ample time for the body’s fast phase. Research shows that a fast of 8 to 12 hours is consistent with the body clock which allows time for the gut to be inactive and not digest any food. You can however have water during the overnight fast.
The science of meal timing has uncovered key points demonstrating how timing can impact success in achieving desired weight goals. Studies have shown that an evening meal can increase blood sugar levels 17 percent more that the identical meal in the morning! Similar studies have shown that more calories are burned digesting meals two hours after eating in the morning more than in the evening.
In planning meals throughout the week remember it is not just what you eat, but the time you are eating, that can help you reach your weight goals.
Take Away: Plan to eat well-balanced meals, snack wisely and adhere to the meal timing tips.