Early vs. late eaters
Researchers invited 420 overweight adults from a weight loss clinic in Spain to participate in a study on timing of meals and weight loss success. The study location is important, because in Spain, the main meal of the day is lunch, not dinner. The researchers collected blood samples and daily diet records before and during the 20-week weight-loss intervention.
Participants were classified as early or late eaters, based on when they habitually ate their main meal of the day, which provided about 40% of their total daily calories. Consuming the main meal before 3 p.m. placed a person in the early category; those eating the main meal after 3 p.m. were classified as late eaters.
The weight-loss program consisted of:
- Weekly 60-minute group sessions conducted by a food and nutrition professional
- Instruction on eating a Mediterranean diet
- Individual diet goals appropriate to facilitate weight loss
- Cognitive behavioral therapy to address poor eating habits
- Recommendations for moderate physical activity
- Began to lose more weight each week, beginning in week five
- Lost significantly more total weight; early eaters lost 22 pounds on average, compared with only 17 pounds for late eaters
- Lost significantly more weight as a percent of their initial weight