A new study published in the International Journal of Obesity suggests that eating the main (largest) meal late in the evening is linked to weight gain. Conversely, eating the main meal before 3pm is shown to increase weight loss.
In Ayurveda as well as most traditional cultures, supper was considered a supplemental or soup-like meal – never the main meal. The main meal was typically taken in the early afternoon, while the evening meal was usually light.
In this study, 420 overweight or obese men and women averaging 42 years of age were evaluated over a period of five months. During that time, half the group ate their main meal – which consisted of 40% of their daily calories – before 3 pm, while the other half ate their big meal later in the day.
Both groups ate the same number of calories per day, adhered to a similar amount of exercise, and got the same amount of sleep during the study.
After five months, the early eater group lost an average of 22 pounds compared to the group that ate later in the day, who lost 17 pounds.
Dr. Frank Scheer of Harvard Medical School – who collaborated on this study – posited that, since eating tends to signal the body’s many internal clocks, eating late in the context of the natural cycles of sleep and activity can disturb the internal clocks which exist in every cell in the body and regulate metabolism and weight loss.
Interestingly, the group that ate later and lost less weight also tended to skip breakfast and made up for those calories later in the day.
According to Ayurveda, breakfast should be a big enough meal to get you comfortably to the lunch meal without cravings or hunger pangs. Lunch should be the main meal of the day and eaten in a relaxed fashion. This meal needs to be large enough to comfortably get you to supper, which can be in the early evening. This meal should be lighter than the others.