Early Dinner or Skipping Meals Assists Weight Loss

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Meal timing study shows promise in helping people shed body fat

Mealtime with Clock

Mealtime with Clock

It has long been postulated that the key to weight loss is eating breakfast and not skipping meals.  It appears that a recent study breaks this concept particularly.  A study at the University of Alabama Birmingham found that eating earlier in the day reduces daily swings in hunger and changes the 24-hour pattern of fat oxidation and energy metabolism[1].  The bottom line is that eating dinner early or skipping dinner, might be effective in fighting body fat or reducing body weight.  

Most dietitians think of meal skipping as a very poor idea.  In theory, it does sound like a terrible suggestion, but this study clearly shows that it might assist in weight loss.  If this study is confirmed by other studies, the results are monumental and will change the way we look at body fat and weight loss in the future.

During a human study, Peterson and her group followed the weight of a small group 11 men and women with various eating times.  They followed weight over four days of eating between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. and four days of eating between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Researchers then tested the impact of meals that were time restricted and early on appetite, calories burned, and fat burned.  Participants were placed on both eating schedules and ate the same number of calories regardless of the schedule.

This research is significant because many prior studies have shown that skipping meals predisposes people to obesity and weight gain.  Most of the studies on meal skipping looked at breakfast and not dinner[2],[3].  One study did look at the nocturnal meal in mice and skipping dinner in this study did hinder weight loss, and in fact, it increased fat production[4].

The bottom line on meal time:

This research indicates that either eating a very early dinner or even skipping dinner may have some benefits for losing weight.  This is contrary to prior teachings.  The study also suggests that the human body may have an internal clock and that our metabolism is at its optimal functioning in the morning.  That being said, the sample size is small, and further studies need to take place to confirm that theory.  I would still try not to miss meals because you are more likely to crave and splurge if you miss meals.  

Footnotes
[1]“Time-Restricted Feeding Study Shows Promise in Helping People Shed Body Fat.”
[2]Goyal and Julka, “Impact of Breakfast Skipping on the Health Status of the Population.”
[3]Huang et al., “Associations of Breakfast Skipping with Obesity and Health-Related Quality of Life: Evidence from a National Survey in Taiwan.”
[4]Yoshida et al., “Early Nocturnal Meal Skipping Alters the Peripheral Clock and Increases Lipogenesis in Mice.”
Goyal, R, and S Julka. “Impact of Breakfast Skipping on the Health Status of the Population.” Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism 18, no. 5 (September 1, 2014): 683–87. [PubMed]
Huang, CJ, HT Hu, YC Fan, YM Liao, and PS Tsai. “Associations of Breakfast Skipping with Obesity and Health-Related Quality of Life: Evidence from a National Survey in Taiwan.” International Journal of Obesity (2005) 34, no. 4 (April 1, 2010): 720–25. [PubMed]
Yoshida, C, N Shikata, S Seki, N Koyama, and Y Noguchi. “Early Nocturnal Meal Skipping Alters the Peripheral Clock and Increases Lipogenesis in Mice.” Nutrition & Metabolism 9, no. 1 (September 10, 2012): 78. [PubMed]
“Time-Restricted Feeding Study Shows Promise in Helping People Shed Body Fat.” News Wise, January 6, 2017. http://www.newswise.com/articles/time-restricted-feeding-study-shows-promise-in-helping-people-shed-body-fat.
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About the Author

ChuckH
I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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