The best meal schedule for losing weight

It turns out that your mom was right: breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Here's how when you eat may be as important as what.

The best meal schedule for losing weight

Can you lose weight by eating 3 squares a day?

  • While diet experts swear by eating small meals throughout the day, you can still lose weight by eating a regular breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • Diet gurus claim that spreading calories throughout the day helps keep blood sugar levels in check, metabolism high and energy up.
  • But whether your body performs better on one meal or six is up for debate, and experts claim it's different for different people.
  • A recent study compared three meals per day versus three meals plus three snacks in 140 obese people. They found that both groups lost about the same amount of weight after a year.
  • Another study showed similar results: both snackers and non-snackers lost an average of 4.5 kilograms (10 pounds) over 24 weeks.
  • The general consensus: if you need your snacks, make sure they're low in calories and high in nutrients.

Does eating breakfast help you lose weight?

  • Study after study shows that people who lose weight and keep it off eat breakfast every day.
  • Eating breakfast is one habit that people who succeed in losing weight tend to share.
  • Studies show that people who skip breakfast usually make up the calories later in the day — and then some.
  • One study found that when women had breakfast, they ate about 100 fewer calories per day than when they didn't have a morning meal.
  • Eating breakfast may help because it kicks your metabolism back into high gear after a night of sleep, during which the body conserves energy.
  • Many people believe that any food eaten at night is more likely to stick to bellies and thighs. There's little opportunity to burn off those calories before sleep.
  • Studies show a breakfast that contains more protein and fewer simple carbohydrates will keep you full for longer.

How much should I eat, and when?

  • Losing weight is most likely all about portion sizes.
  • If you haven't eaten since lunch at noon and you sit down for dinner at 10 p.m., chances are you're starving and you'll end up eating more than you should.
  • Stick to the recommended serving sizes and add fruit to your diet if you want more food.

While timing may help you lose weight, dedication and diligence are more important factors. Eat breakfast everyday and pay attention to what you eat. If you do, the when may not matter as much.

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