We all know that it matters how MUCH we eat.
At the basic level we have our calories in vs calories out equation.
Looking to lose weight? Eat less calories than you burn. Want to gain weight? Consume more calories than you use.
We’ll say it again and again – getting calorie targets right is vital in reaching your physical goals.
So far so good right…?
But how about WHEN we eat?
A lot of PTs and coaches will tell you it just doesn’t matter.
To be fair, they’re trying to keep it simple…
BUT…….there’s a body of research that suggests when we eat really does make a difference to our body composition and energy levels.
However, before we dive into the science, consider this: if meal timing doesn’t matter, why do endurance athletes carb load the evening before events?
Answer, they want plenty of glycogen reserves for energy.
And…if you’re looking to manage your body fat down though, this is the last thing you want.
First up, we’re more insulin sensitive in the mornings than at night. Therefore we’re better equipped to utilise the energy available to us in the mornings.
There is also observational data showing a clear link between higher body fat levels and consuming more of your daily calories late in the day.
Another long term study (spanning 20 weeks) showed that participants who ate their largest meal of the day before 3pm experienced more weight loss than those who ate theirs post 3pm.
Biologically speaking it would appear we’re physiologically adapted to handle bigger meals earlier in the day. There’s also a good body of research showing that for most people, front loading the majority of your calories early in the day is beneficial for body composition, and conversely, eating more, later, has a negative effect – ie weight gain.
Wouldn’t it be great if someone had actually tested this? Well, they have!
Jakubowicz et al took two groups and fed them a diet identical in calories, macros and timings, (with the aim of weight loss, so slightly calorie restricted).
The only difference being that one group was “front loaded” – having more calories earlier in the day and less in the evening, and the other group “back loaded” with more calories late in the day.
Not only did those in the front loaded group lose significantly more weight than those in the back loaded group, but they also had lower ghrelin (hunger hormone) levels through the day, meaning that they’d be less likely to eat more even outside of the meal plan conditions.
Nutrition is simple to a degree but to get best results – it’s multifaceted.
Applying science is what we do to fast track client’s results.
If you’d like to know more, or have any questions, get in touch 🙂