Why does no one talk about meal timing? What I mean is we talk about calorie counting, Weight Watcher point counting, eating less, moving more but seldom are we given guidelines around meal timing. I have worked in both medical and surgical weight loss for over a decade and the most common eating pattern observed in all my patients who battle the most with their weight is undereating during the day and overeating at night. Eating the majority of your calories is often the result of bad nutrition advice, too many diets, poor meal planning, deceased awareness of hunger cues, and wanting to save our calories until evening.
Here are my most common responses when inquiring about meal timing
- I am just not hungry in the morning.
- I never eat breakfast
- I am too busy for breakfast or lunch
- If I eat breakfast I am hungry all day
- I have no time to pack my lunch
- I do not even think about food during the day
- I would not have to worry about my weight if I worked all day
- I feel sick if I eat breakfast
- My lunch break is too short
- I have too much work to do
Whether my patients are working full time or retired, the responses are often similar. So why is under eating during the day not the best eating pattern?
It sets us up to overeat when we do eat.
We often do not make the best choice when we are overly hungry.
Eating breakfast helps set the circadian rhythm of your gut hormones which can help regulate appetite.
Often meal skipping makes blood sugars more erratic causing energy highs and low.
You will lose the metabolic advantage of thermogenesis which causes your metabolism to be slower.
Coffee and caffeine are often appetite suppressants making meal skipping easier. Ideally eating every 3-4 hours is a good place to start. Aim for three meals and 2-3 small snacks. The evening snack is optional, I feel that this snack more often stems from habit versus hunger.