This simple phrase has pertinence to many areas of life. Whether it is finding a new job, celebrating a special occasion with a loved one, buying a car, or showing patience before making an important decision for yourself, timing makes a difference.
This same principle is relevant when it comes to our health, especially when we talk about eating. Diabetes, heart disease, cancer, even Alzheimer’s disease are shown to have a higher incidence in people who are overweight or obese versus those who are normal weight.
The main issue with obesity or being overweight in general comes down to simple math: over consumption of calories. If you consume more calories than you burn, you will gain weight.
What is the solution? Just as simple: consume less calories.
However, there is a caveat to this. Losing weight does not mean that you should starve yourself. You should eat a good amount of healthy calories (ie lean white meat, green vegetables, complex carbohydrates).
What is critical to remember is WHEN one should consume those calories.
From an evolutionary standpoint, our bodies have acclimated to a certain circadian rhythm. Our metabolism is higher earlier in the day and begins to trend down later in the day.
Therefore, we generally burn more calories between the hours of 6 AM to 3 PM.
In ancient times, humans stayed up as long as the sun was out. During that time, we hunted, foraged, ate, exercised, did activities of daily living and when the sun went down, we went to sleep and our metabolism slowed down. There were no lamps or artificial lights keeping us awake. In this day and age, we stay up as late as we want or need to because of the technology available to help us do more over a longer period of time. In fact, some people even work overnight for a living!
Unfortunately, even though we remain awake, our bodies still “sleep” from a metabolic standpoint. What this means is that if we consume calories late at night, even if they are healthy calories, our bodies will store most of those calories as fat because there is no physiologic need for more energy late at night.
We advise our patients to eat a good sized breakfast and a good sized lunch full of healthy complex carbs, lean white meat, green veggies, and fruits. These calories will be burned more easily and this will prevent feeling hungry later in the day when the metabolism slows down. In general, dinner should be the smallest meal of the day compared to breakfast and lunch and should only contain lean protein and veggies with minimal to no carb consumption. Following this pattern of eating can help lose weight. Of course, exercise should be supplemented to help control blood pressure and blood sugar.