I’m certain you’ve heard it more than once in your life:
“If you want to lose weight, make sure to eat most of your calories in the morning and early afternoon, because food eaten at night has a higher chance of being converted into fat.”
You know what the main problem with this statement is? It’s the fact that it is complete baloney and has no scientific backing whatsoever.
The Meal Timing Myth
Before I give you my own personal experience with the subject, let’s take a look at what actual scientific literature has to say on the subject. Here’s a start:
In this study, various scenarios were compared, wherein different groups were fed the exact same amount of calories each, only at different times of the day (all calories consumed at 10 AM or 2 PM or 6 PM, etc.). There was even one group that was fasting for a duration of 36 hours straight.
The results were as follows:
“weight loss did not vary in both short and long-term protocols”
In fact, whatever difference was observed seemed to indicate that the group which consumed all of its calories later in the day, meaning did not eat anything in the morning or afternoon and finally consumed all of the calories for the day at 6 PM, demonstrated a slightly higher lipid oxidation – meaning a slightly bigger rate of fat loss.
Here’s another one that does justice to both sides of the story:
To conclude, ingestion of larger AM meals resulted in slightly greater weight loss, but ingestion of larger PM meals resulted in better maintenance of fat-free mass. Thus, incorporation of larger PM meals in a weight loss regimen may be important in minimizing the loss of fat-free mass.
What this means is that people who consumed most of their calories in the morning lost more weight, however some of that weight was not fat but lean muscle mass. On the other hand, people who consumed most of their calories later in the day demonstrated better preservation of fat-free mass.
There are many, many more studies like the ones I’ve cited above. Personally though, I don’t need to look far for a really good example:
Back when I was attempting to lose weight while maintaining as much muscle mass as possible, I consumed approximately 1900 calories per day for 7 months straight, while employing what is referred to as intermittent fasting.
This means that I would fast for 16 hours straight (no food from 11PM until 5PM the next day), and then consume all of my calories for the day within the 5PM – 11PM window – this effectively meant that I was consuming the vast majority of my calories in the evening.
I did this for over 200 days straight, and lost 60 pounds while producing outstanding blood-test results.
This is actually a strategy that is employed by many people nowadays, particularly bodybuilders and athletes. You can take a look at a few pictures of people who used this exact same approach in this weight loss blueprint if you want examples of what kind of results are produced by eating most of your calories at night and preserving as much lean muscle mass as possible.
Put simply, feel free to eat your meals whenever you want, as it really isn’t going to make much of a difference. You will benefit far more from following a meal frequency plan that you can actually stick to in the long-term, because if you do that – you’ve already won the battle. Providing your employing an energy-restricted diet, of course.
Everything else is just noise.