Study: For weight loss, it's not just what you eat, but when you eat

February 6, 2013

For weight loss, it's not just what you eat, but when you eat.
For weight loss, it's not just what you eat, but when you eat.

If you're on a weight loss plan, you've probably considered your calorie count, fruit and vegetable intake, and serving sizes. But a new study suggests that dieters must also consider the time that they eat, as chowing down later in the day could slow one's progress, reports NPR.

Spanish researchers published the results of their study in the International Journal of Obesity. They examined 420 overweight individuals living in the Mediterranean town of Murcia, Spain. The patients were evenly split between men and women, with an average age of 42. The study leaders were interested in comparing the weight loss progress of these individuals, and looked specifically at what time the participants ate their main meal, which consisted of around 1,400 calories. That's a relatively small number compared to the amount of calories Americans eat every day, the news source reports.

At the end of the study, researchers found that individuals who ate their primary meal before 3 p.m. lost 22 pounds on average. Those who ate after 3 p.m., however, only lost an average of 17 pounds.

The researchers have a theory that could help explain this outcome. They believe that when one postpones a meal until late in the day, it may mess with the body's internal clock, throwing the metabolism out of sync.

"When the timing of meals do not match with the sleep-wake cycle well, there's a disconnect between the different clocks that we have in basically all the cells of our body," the study's author, Frank Scheer, told the news source.

This research may encourage individuals to adjust their meal schedule if they are struggling to lose weight. However, it's not uncommon that people who diet regularly and monitor their eating times may still find they have problem areas. For these dieters, liposuction may be an option.

According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, the cosmetic procedure can remove stubborn pockets of fat located in the arms, stomach, waist, thighs or buttocks. The outcome of this surgery is typically an improved body contour. Results usually last for a long time, but can be affected by weight gain, pregnancy or other factors that cause changes in one's body shape. If you're struggling to shed unwanted pounds, then it may be time to book a consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon.


The mission of the Aesthetic Society includes medical education, public education and patient advocacy. Plastic Surgery News Briefs are summaries of current stories found through various news and magazine outlets that relate to or mention plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures. The views expressed in these news articles do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Aesthetic Society, but are merely published as an educational service to our members and the general public. For additional information on these subjects and other plastic surgery related topics, please go to

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