Muesli in the morning or do you prefer scrambled eggs? Five hour break between meals? Don’t eat anything after 5 p.m.? There are many opinions on how to lose weight by the watch. FOCUS Online clarifies the current status of nutritional science.

For old-school nutritionists, there is only one diet rule: Consume more calories than absorb, and your fat pads will melt away. What time of day and how often the person who wants to lose weight eats does not matter.

Many experts now see this in a more nuanced way. Because there is a connection between chronobiology, metabolism and nutrition: the biological rhythm is not only followed by our waking and sleeping times; the energy metabolism is also differently active during the day. We know, for example, that the burning of fat takes place more intensely at night, while the carbohydrates “stay”. A recommendation is therefore not to eat three hours before going to bed.

Extra calories in the evening become hip gold

Nutrition expert Monika Bischoff says that the importance of the times of day for energy expenditure is usually overestimated: “Primarily, energy intake and consumption determine our body weight. The time is therefore not decisive for weight gain or loss. ”  

The head nutritionist at the Center for Nutritional Medicine and Prevention (ZEP) in Munich sees time-dependent nutritional “sins” as the cause of failed diets. “In the evening there is often the risk of an additional high energy supply. Those who nibble quickly blow their calorie account. “

The midnight snack increases the risk of diabetes

For example, a small study at the University of Pennsylvania found that eating between noon and 11 p.m. made you fatter than the same meals between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Eating late also increases insulin levels and, in the long run, the risk of diabetes.

Another US study on the influence of the time on diet success came out, for example, that you lose more weight when the calories decrease in the evening – and if possible not consist of carbohydrates. The carbohydrates are rather allowed in the morning, preferably as “slow carbs”, ie slowly usable fillers. The nutrition expert recommends muesli or whole grain bread.

In the evening, protein and long breaks to eat promote weight loss

This is how the “Low Carb” diet principle works: The method is based on filling up the empty energy stores with quickly usable carbohydrates (bread) in the morning and doing without them completely in the evening. So no pasta, potatoes, rice as a side dish. Instead, plenty of protein for the muscles, which need a lot of energy. Ultimately, this is how it affects the fat deposits on the collar.

Regular eating times with always the same breaks in between are another aspect for Lose weight according to the clock. If there are always four to five hours between meals, the insulin level can drop enough that fat burning starts. Exercising during meal breaks increases this effect.

Eating in the time window helps you lose weight

The latest trend for effective weight loss with a time aspect is intermittent fasting: (three) meals are allowed for eight to 10 hours during the day. Then there is a long break of 14 to 16 hours.

The idea is supported by a study that was carried out at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in the USA – but with mice:

400 rodents were given the same amount of high-calorie food for three weeks. Some of the mice had access to it for 24 hours, others only for twelve hours. The results impressed the researchers: the mice that could only eat half the day were healthier and thinner than the 24-hour eater.

If experimental animals only had nine hours for their daily ration, their figure was even better than that of the permanent eater. If they were allowed to eat for a period of fifteen hours, the successes were no longer quite as meaningful. The longer the rodents were allowed to feed during the day, the more they gained weight. The mice, which could initially eat whenever they wanted and then receive a nine-hour diet with the same number of calories, lost up to five percent within a few days.

Three meals a day – without any time fixation

Monika Bischoff, the expert for healthy weight loss and long-term dietary changes, remains skeptical of time constraints: “Everyone has their own biorhythm. For example, some people find it easy to take long breaks from eating, such as with intermittent fasting, while others find it totally stressful. ”The ecotrophologist also lacks clear scientific data for a final assessment of“ eating by the clock ”. “Three balanced, reduced-calorie meals spread over the day are still the best diet recommendation.”

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