There are lots of opinions out there on what type of meal timing helps a person lose weight, but many do not have a lot of science behind them. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition in July looks at the eating habits of over 50,00 people over seven years One of their findings was that people who make breakfast their biggest meal of the day were able to lower their body mass index. People who ate a large breakfast, moderate lunch and very small dinner lost weight. People who ate their largest meal at dinner gained weight, as did those who at three meals plus snacks each day.

In another study women who were all given 1400 calories each day were divided into two groups, one ate 700 calories for breakfast, 500 calories for lunch and 200 calories for dinner; the other group reversed that order. Both groups lost weight, but the group eating the large breakfast lost 2 ½ times as much as those eating the large dinner. The large breakfast eaters also lost more body fat.

How do I put this into practice, if I want to lose weight?

  1. Work on eating 3 meals per day, without snacks; if you eat a snack, sit down and enjoy it, rather than eating mindlessly while you work, watch TV, or read. The 3 meals plus snacks eaters had the biggest amount of weight gain.
  2. Start working on increasing your breakfast. This will help you to be less hungry later in the day. You want to aim for 500-700 calories and 30 gm protein. Good options using breakfast foods we are used to:
    • Whole wheat English muffin with 2 tablespoons peanut butter and 1 teaspoon jam + 1 cup plain Lowfat Plain Greek yogurt (e.g. Fage brand) with 1 cup fruit and 1 teaspoon honey. (Approximately 600 calories and 30 gm protein)
    • 1 cup oatmeal (made with 1/2 cup uncooked oats + 1 cup water + 2 tablespoons raisins + ½ chopped large apple and 2 tablespoons chopped nuts) and topped with ½ cup 1% milk, plus ¾ cup cottage cheese sprinkled with cinnamon (approximately 550 calories and 30 gm protein)
    • Fritatta plus large slice of whole grain toast coated with ¼ mashed avocado. (using recipes below, approximately 650 calories and 31 gm protein).
      • Fritatta: 2 cups raw spinach, broccoli, mushrooms, onions peppers, or any combination of these or other veggies +2 ounces meat (ground meat, leftover chicken, pork or beef, or deli ham or turkey) + 2 large eggs + ¼ cup grated cheese. Directions: spray frying pan with cooking spray, sauté vegetables and meat together; whip eggs together with 1-2 tbsp water or milk and pour over vegetable meat mixture. Turn oven on to broil; put frying pan on the top shelf of the oven for 2-3 minutes remove pan from oven and top with the grated cheese, return to oven for 1-2 minutes. Put the Fritatta on a large plate and serve.  You can make multiple servings by putting the sautéed vegetables into a baking pan and pouring the egg mixture over that and baking.
      • Toast: 1 regular size ‘Dave’s Killer Bread’ or 2 thin slices. Cut ¼ of an avocado off seed, and mash onto toast.
    • Continue to have a balanced lunch—protein, carbs, vegetables and/or fruit.
    • Start working on decreasing dinner. Try just having grilled chicken, fish or lean meat with a large green salad or 2 cups cooked vegetables. If having rice or potatoes, mix in a lot of vegetables to decrease the calories (check out some of the recipes you received when you had your first nutrition consultation with Central Oregon Nutrition Consultants)
    • Try to cut down on snacks. When you do have snacks aim for raw vegetables and a little protein (e.g. leftover meat, poultry or fish).

Try experimenting with these ideas to see how they work for you—send me some feedback on whether or not these ideas are possible at least some of the time, and what happens to your weight when you do try them.