It isn't just the food you eat that can impact your weight and health, it's also when you eat it. Most people are brought up thinking that dinner should be the biggest meal of the day, meaning they opt for a light breakfast and lunch.
However, research has found that a smaller dinner and larger lunch could be the key to helping you shift those weight. Even if you have a really healthy diet, eating your biggest meal in the evening is not the best option, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
The research found that those who ate half their daily calories at lunch and then just 20 per cent at dinner managed to lose 5 kg on 12 weeks. This is compared to the 4 kg that those who had a bigger meal in the evening lost in the same period.
Food intake among both groups was exactly the same, it was just the time of day when the most food was consumed that changed the results.
However, it isn't just the benefit of better weight loss or management that eating your largest meal at lunch has to offer. There are a few other reasons refuelling fully at midday could be the best option for you.
Better energy levels
Food is what gives you more energy and enables you to get through the day. If you eat a big meal at dinner, this energy gets wasted as you'll be going to bed just a few hours later. However, eating more at lunch will give you the boost you need to get through the rest of the day without having to deal with the dreaded mid-afternoon slump.
This can help you achieve more with your day, feel less tired as it goes on and mean you get more out of it as you won't be too tired to move once you finish work. To make the most of the energy that comes from a big lunch, choose a meal that includes complex carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats.
Do you start craving sweet things in the afternoon or really fancy that bag of crisps? Eating a big meal can help stop this as you'll be full for longer and won't feel like you need a sugary or fatty snack to keep you going.
This is better for your weight loss goals and health overall. Of course, if you do find yourself getting hungry, you can still reach for a snack, but make it something healthy like fruit.
Speeds up your metabolism
If you want to keep your metabolism high, you need to make sure you're not skipping any meals. You might think that consuming fewer calories to lose weight is the best option, but skipping meals actually slows your metabolism down and can mean your weight loss stalls.
Not only does a big lunch keep your metabolism running at its best level, it also ensures you're using all the energy from the food you consume. If you were to eat a big meal at night, your metabolism will slow down while you sleep so all those extra calories you consumed will be stored as fat.
Gets your body into a routine
Sticking to a routine when it comes to food is the best way to see results if you're trying to lose weight or maintain your weight. A routine ensures your body knows when to kick start your metabolism and burn the most calories and when to slow down.
If you ensure you eat at similar times every day and have three meals as well as snacks throughout the day – although you should skip these in the evening – it will help maintain your body's routine and ensure your metabolism is working at its best rate.