|You better super-size that lunch box if you plan to enjoy the scientifically suggested health and body weight benefits of getting the lion's share of your energy intake at lunch, instead of dinner [15%, 50%, 15% + 15% (ideally) healthy snacks].|
Well, as Alex is going to point out in the next paragraph. He was the one who spotted the latest "meal timing" study and I thought that Alex's at least as qualified as I am. He's, after all, an important contributor to the Examine Research Digest (always the articles that need the least editing ;-) and a registered general and sports nutritionist with his own business, while I am just... well, a physicist. "So why don't you let him do the work and get the credit," I thought... and he delivered. The only thing I had to do was to add this intro and reformat the article so that it would fit into the SuppVersity blueprint. Enjoy!
So, a couple days ago I shared a study on my Facebook wall suggesting that eating the majority of calories at lunch, rather than dinner, leads to greater weight loss and improvements in insulin sensitivity (Madjd et al, 2016). For whatever reason, Adel asks that I write a guest post on it for SuppVersity. And how could I deny that request ;-)
I felt that this study was amusing and worth the coverage (and apparently Adel agrees) because there is a lot of controversy surrounding meal timing and macronutrient distribution throughout the day. Perhaps it started with Kiefer’s book, The Carb Nite Solution, about a decade ago, but there is this persistent belief that stuffing your face at dinner is ideal for weight loss. I know that Adel has written about at least three studies on this topic (here, here, and here).
Personally, I’m of the opinion that there are many successful ways to eat, and the most important aspect is the sustainability of the program for you. After all, if you don’t adhere to whatever weight loss diet you are following, you won’t make progress. But who cares what I think, let’s get on to the study at hand.
The study design was relatively simple: randomize 80 women with obesity (average age of 34 years) to a comprehensive weight loss plan where one group eats most of their calories at lunch (LM group) and another group eats them mostly at dinner (DM group).
“Groups were separated into subjects who had their main meal at dinner (DM) and subjects who had their main meal at lunch (LM). Subjects were assigned to consume 15% of their energy intakes at breakfast and 15% of their energy intakes with their snacks, with either 50% of daily energy intake at lunch and 20% of daily energy intake at dinner (LM group) or vice versa (DM group).”After 12-weeks, both groups showed significant reductions in body weight and improvements in blood lipids and glycemic control. However, the LM group showed significantly greater reductions in body weight (additional 1.42 kg of weight loss, or 0.12 kg per week), fasting insulin, and HOMA-IR (a measurement of insulin resistance) than the DM group.
|Figure 1: Relative change in selected anthropometric, blood glucose and lipid management markers (Subar et al, 2015);|
the asterisks * indicate statistically significant difference between groups (p < 0.05).
That's (as people who read the introduction would know ;-), because it is guest post #2 by my friend Alex Leaf, who has recently turned his passion for nutrition, training and supplementation into a profession and opened his own business, Leaf Nutrition - obviously not before amassing a range of titles from certified personal trainer to the Master of Nutrition and certifications as nutritionist from the state of Washington and the International Society of Sports Nutrition. Future coaching requests should thus better go to Alex than me, after all, he has the time, the education and the patience to work with clients I have never had (those of you who asked me if I do coaching will know that).
Alternatively, both groups were instructed to gradually increase physical activity as part of the comprehensive weight loss program, so perhaps a larger lunch gave more energy to be active during the day and therefore expend more energy. Eventually, however, we will probably never know to which extent this "messed" with the results and as Adel agreed on the respective Facebook thread it may eventually be a strength of the study.
- Madjd A, Taylor MA, Delavari A, Malekzadeh R, Macdonald IA, Farshchi HR. Beneficial effect of high energy intake at lunch rather than dinner on weight loss in healthy obese women in a weight-loss program: a randomized clinical trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2016; pii: ajcn134163. [Epub ahead of print]
- Subar AF, Freedman LS, Tooze JA, Kirkpatrick SI, Boushey C, Neuhouser ML, Thompson FE, Potischman N, Fuenther PM, Tarasuk V, Reedy J, Krebs-Smith SM. Addressing current criticism regarding the value of self-report dietary data. J Nutr. 2015; 145(12): 2639-45.
- de Castro JM. The time of day of food intake influences overall intake in humans. J Nutr. 2004; 134(1): 104-11.