Sep 072009
 

To get fit, you need to know the best time of the day to eat and exercise. Research shows the worst time of the day to eat is at night, and the best time of day to eat is before 6 or 8 pm.

Before this research, many people thought the total number of calories eaten all day is more important than when you consume those calories…but that’s not true.

“How or why a person gains weight is very complicated, but it clearly is not just calories in and calories out,” said Fred Turek, professor of neurobiology and physiology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and director of the Center for Sleep and Circadian Biology. “We think some factors are under circadian control. Better timing of meals, which would require a change in behavior, could be a critical element in slowing the ever-increasing incidence of obesity.”

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And here’s a summary of the best and worst times of the day to eat and exercise, plus a few weight loss tips…

What is the Best Time of Day to Eat to Lose Weight?

The worst time of day to eat is at night, when your body is sleepy

Your metabolism slows down at night, when your body wants to sleep. This is not the best time of day to eat if you want to lose weight, because your body won’t process the food. To stop yourself from snacking at night, just picture that food going straight to your bottom and belly and turning into fat….ugh.

Note that this weight loss tip has been refuted by some researchers. Some say that it doesn’t matter when you eat; your total calorie consumption is what matters most. What’s the truth? Whatever works for you!

Eat at the same time every day

This research from Northwestern University shows that eating at irregular times can lead to weight gain. It’s the first study to prove a cause and effect relationship between meal timing and increased weight gain. To lose weight, stagger your meals and snacks so you don’t get overly hungry – and so you’re not eating at night.

For more weight loss tips, read The 8 Best Ways to Lose Weight.

Tune into your natural body rhythms

An effective way to lose weight is to listen to your body. Your daily cycle of feeding, activity and sleep, with respect to external dark and light cycles, is called your “circadian clock.” This internal clock also regulates energy use – which is why the worst time of day to eat is at night – it leads to weight gain.

To lose weight, remember how gross it feels to wake up full

This is one of my favorite weight loss tips! When I eat too much at night, I wake up feeling full and sluggish – and I don’t sleep very well. But when I go to bed slightly hungry, I wake up feeling energized, and eager for my morning cup of coffee and breakfast. Remembering how bad I feel when I wake up full usually reminds me not to eat food at night.

The best time of day to exercise to lose weight

The Best Times of Day to Exercise weight loss tipsDr Oz says the best time of day to exercise is in the morning, shortly after you get up. I’ve also heard that the best time to exercise is in the late afternoon, when your metabolism is burning a bit more effectively. I think the consensus is that the best time of day to exercise is when you can fit it into your schedule!

Many people find that a digital pocket pedometer increases the number of steps they take every day, which helps with weight loss.

For more weight loss tips, read Can’t Afford Jenny Craig? Help Losing Weight For Free.

What do you think of these best times of the day to eat and exercise? Comments welcome below…

Source: Northwestern University (2009, September 7). That Late-night Snack: Worse Than You Think. ScienceDaily.

  6 Responses to “The Best Times of the Day to Eat to Lose Weight”

  1. Thanks for your thoughts on the best time of day to eat, Alozano! Interesting.

    I never eat after 6:30 pm if I can help it. I like waking up hungry for breakfast :-)

  2. Actually, regardless of whether you are skinny or not this method not only helps in reducing body fat but also reduces your chances later on in life of developing many types of stomach ulcers or worst.. Cancer. This method allows your food to be process quickly as what its meant to be.. fuel for your body and not left to rot in your intestinal system.

  3. Hi Paramjit,

    Thanks for your comment! I think eating at set times helps you avoid the emotional eating that often leads to weight gain. I try not to eat after 6 pm because I like waking up hungry. And, I sleep better when my tummy isn’t full.

    The best time of day to eat may be different from person to person, though. My husband can’t sleep on an empty stomach (but then again he doesn’t need to lose weight, so he can afford to eat late at night).

  4. You have placed some sound arguments on food timing. Eating too close to bed time spikes insulin and does cause excess calories to be stored as fat. It also makes a lot of sense to eat at the same time each day. Great points.

  5. My husband is exactly the same way, Greg! You are two lucky, lucky men :-)

  6. There is no “best time of the day to eat” for me — I’m one of those lucky skinny guys who can eat at all hours and not gain a pound.

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