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Meal timing and weight loss: is there a relationship?

Does the timing of your meals or the moment when you consume your meals during the day influence your body composition?

Is this factor equally important when your goal is to lose weight or fat?

Read on to discover the answer to this and other questions!

What should you know about weight loss?

lose weight and burn fat

Weight loss is a process that requires motivation and focus. But attention! It’s important to set a goal, to see if what you do is effective or enough.

Healthy nutrition and practice of physical exercise are key to healthy and consistent weight loss.

There are no magic formulas.

Weight loss is directly related to the number of calories consumed throughout the day.

During this period, the number of calories consumed should be in accordance with the individual need, to potentiate and allow weight loss.

In addition, another factor that influences weight loss and calorie consumption, is the distribution of these calories by macronutrient.

Usually, in a diet for weight loss and/or fat loss, depending on the specifics of the person, it’s advisable that there’s a decrease in the amount of calories consumed and a change in the percentages of calories from the different macronutrients.

This is variable, and also depends on whether or not you exercise and what quantity or type of exercise you do.

Depending on the food you normally eat, it’s natural that occur a decrease in the amount of calories from carbohydrates.

Here are some tips on what you can do in a diet for weight loss or diet for fat loss and muscle definition.

How should you eat to lose weight?

eat to lose weight

This way, the amount of calories consumed during this period should be less than the amount of calories spent, thus creating a caloric deficit and enhancing the body’s ability to spend reserves to produce energy.

The foods consumed should be of low caloric density. That is, you should opt for less caloric foods and take into account the portions consumed.

In addition, practicing exercise will be fundamental. In this process, the amount of calories consumed should be less than the amount of calories burned, and exercise will be essential to help burn these calories.


When should you eat to lose weight?

meal timing

The moment when calories are consumed seems to have an influence on the weight loss process.

Studies suggest that:

“Eating late may influence the success of weight-loss therapy. Novel therapeutic strategies should incorporate not only the caloric intake and macronutrient distribution – as is classically done – but also the timing of food.”

When should you eat your last big meal?


Breakfast is a very important meal for those who are following a weight loss program.

In the study “Meal Frequency and Timing Are Associated with Changes in Body Mass Index in Adventist Health Study 2” it was possible to verify that individuals who consumed a more complete breakfast, an average lunch in terms of quantities, and a lighter dinner, achieved better results in terms of reduction of BMI (Body Mass Index) than those who consumed more calories at the end of the day or those who didn’t have breakfast.

A possible explanation for this phenomenon, are circadian rhythms (it’s an internal process that regulates the biological processes of our body (such as the functioning of our metabolism) and defines the sleep-wake cycle). According to Freuman in an CNN article

“Because of circadian rhythms, there are variations in certain hormone levels, enzyme levels and glucose transporters at different parts of the day, which differentially affect how calories, carbohydrates and fat are metabolized.”

Intermittent Fasting

A practice that has received a lot of attention, is intermittent fasting, due to the reported benefits of fat loss.

Basically, this method consists of spending a few hours without eating, and then another period eating with few restrictions.

The most common methods are 16 hours without eating and 8 hours eating with few restrictions, or 5 hours without eating and 2 eating with few restrictions.

The results of this are easy to understand: Basically, as long as the body is deprived of food, without there being a recharge of energy reserves, the body will be forced to get energy from the fat reserves in the body.

However, in addition to recommendations that this method should not be followed for a long time, there are studies that show that:

Studies in humans, almost across the board, have shown that IF is safe and incredibly effective, but really no more effective than any other diet. In addition, many people find it difficult to fast.”

In Conclusion

Weight loss is a complex process, with many variables and strategies.

In fact, there are studies that suggest that the moment of food intake may determine greater weight loss.

The most important will always be to adapt the diet plan to your routine and needs in the most efficient way and, consequently, to apply these strategies when it makes sense.

Although intermittent fasting is a strategy with positive evidence for weight reduction, it may not be the most suitable strategy for many people, since it can generate imbalances in the feeling of hunger and may not suit the daily routines of most people.

And you, how do you organize your daily meals?


The information included in this article concerns the authors opinion only.

About Ângela Ferreira

Ângela Ferreira
Ângela Ferreira is a nutritionist. She has a degree in Nutrition Sciences and she is doing a Master's degree in Consumer Sciences and Nutrition. She currently works in Sports Nutrition and Clinic Nutrition. Her goal is to actively participate in changing the population's eating habits and to demonstrate that healthy eating can be simple and practical.

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