A study by researchers from the Loma Linda University School of Public Health and the Czech Republic has found that the timing and frequency of meals play a role in predicting weight loss or gain.
Using information gleaned from more than 50,000 participants in the Adventist Health Study-2 (AHS-2), the researchers discovered four factors associated with a decrease in body mass index: eating only one or two meals per day; maintaining an overnight fast of up to 18 hours; eating breakfast instead of skipping it; and making breakfast or lunch the largest meal of the day. Making breakfast the largest meal yielded a more significant decrease in BMI than did lunch.
The two factors associated with higher BMI were eating more than three meals per day —snacks were counted as extra meals — and making supper the largest meal of the day.
As a practical weight-management strategy, Hana Kahleova, MD, PhD, recommends eating breakfast and lunch, skipping supper, avoiding snacks, making breakfast the largest meal of the day and fasting overnight for up to 18 hours.
A postdoctoral research fellow at Loma Linda University School of Public Health when the study was conducted, Kahleova is director of clinical research for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, DC.