Online Health Articles

New Weight Loss Regiman

Want to lose weight? Eat earlier

 

     Although every person who wants to lose weight knows that the answer is more calories burned and less calories consumed, they are always looking for that  magical short-cut that will promote weight loss without doing all the caloric work.

A new intriguing study done in Europe now indicates that the time when you eat should also be taken into account.

The researchers, led by Marta Garaulet of the University of Murcia in Spain, observed 420 adults who took part in a twenty week weight-reduction program. In this study they focussed on the main meal of the day, which in this Mediterranean country, happened to be lunch.

Spain is not the only country where the main meal is lunch. In fact, in many European countries this is the norm and supper is a much lighter meal.

The study participants were divided into two groups: those who ate early (any time before 3pm) and those who at late (after 3 pm).

The findings revealed that the early eaters lost about 25 per cent more weight than the late diners, even though there were no significant differences in the caloric consumption and energy expenditure between the two groups. On average, those who ate their lunch early lost 22 pounds, while the late diners lost 17 pounds.

Why should this happen? The researchers could not say for sure but hypothesized that it may be related to the body’s internal biological clock. We know that the body deals differently with food depending on the time of day. For instance, glucose is cleared more easily from the bloodstream in the morning when it is needed for energy, rather than in the evening when it probably is not. During the day you are awake and working and moving and need to utilize all that blood sugar. In the evening after supper, if the glucose is not needed it probably ends up being stored as fat.

Although this is common sense, researchers give this activity a name, chronotherapy, in which medical treatments are timed to correspond to the body’s 24-hour circadian rhythm. Many drug trials have shown that some blood-pressure drugs work better if they are taken at bedtime and the side-effects of many drugs, even certain cancer medications can be reduced by giving the drugs at certain times.

Although there have been many studies regarding the correct time to take medications, this is the very first large-scale study to determine the correct time to eat your meals.

So what does this study mean to us here in Canada who tend to eat our largest meal during the evening? If a late lunch undermined the dieting efforts of the Spanish, couldn’t a heavy meal at night be even worse?

There have not been any studies in this country but the logic of eating early makes sense and the logic of eating late at night makes no sense at all. It may even explain the obesity rates in North America. Of course how many people are watching TV late at night and during the commercial are told that the window at Wendy’ s is open until 11pm. This is a perfect storm for disaster. Not only are you eating late but you are eating fast-food late, the worst possible scenario.

We need food when we are using calories, not when we are sitting on the couch or at the ballgame. David Lau, an obesity researcher and professor of medicine at the University of Calgary has a diet plan he recommends for his patients. “Typically, I tell my patients to eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and supper like a pauper.”

I think that the reason it does not work in North America is because we are usually late for work and may eat a very small breakfast or skip it altogether. Then we have a fixed time for lunch, usually about 30 minutes and we have the most time to eat at the end of the day after work. In most European societies, businesses close down after lunch and people have a nap or a leisure activity before resuming work again in the evening.

Not only does this contribute to a thinner society but in Europe the incidence of heart attacks and strokes is less than half of what it is here in North America. Consider the French who smoke and eat all manner of rich creamy sauces and yet their hearts are stronger than hours.

If we want to be thin and healthy not only should we adopt the Mediterranean diet but also the Mediterranean lifestyle as well.

[print_link]

Categories