Does it matter when you eat?
There have been many different theories regarding when and how often an individual should eat, among them: including vs. skipping breakfast, not eating anything before bedtime, and eating several smaller meals vs. fewer concentrated meals. In this article, we intend to examine whether or not feeding timing and frequency is relevant to metabolism, and/or satiation.
Including breakfast in one’s day has been shown to have myriad effects. De Castro (2004) found those that skip breakfast are more likely to overeat later. 1 Additionally, Schlundt et al (1992) and Stubbs et al (1996) found those that eat breakfast eat less fat throughout the day and are less prone to impulsive eating of familiar foods. 23 However, multiple studies have found that feeding frequency and timing does not have an effect on metabolic performance (Wilhelmine et al 1998) (Dallosso et al 1982) ( Verboeket van de Venne and Westerterp 1998) (Wolfram et al 1987). 4 5 6 7 In addition, Goldberg et al (1998) found that one’s metabolic rate while sleeping is roughly concurrent with one’s basal metabolic rate (BMR), which in combination with results from the previously mentioned studies suggests that there are no adverse metabolic effects from eating before sleeping.8 However, it is important if you are partaking in late night eating that you eat a prepared portion of food, as it’s been demonstrated that it’s common for individuals to overindulge late (Waller et al 2004). 9
Eating more frequent smaller meals has been shown to decrease future hunger more effectively than eating few highly concentrated meals (Speechly and Buffenstein 1999). Johnstone et al (2000) found similar results in their study, and also determined that the nutritional composition of these smaller meals (i.e. high in protein, fat, or carbohydrates) did not affect later decreased hunger, provided they contained a similar caloric composition10 11
- The time of day of food intake influences overall intake in humans [↩]
- The role of breakfast in the treatment of obesity: a randomized clinical trial [↩]
- Breakfasts high in protein, fat or carbohydrate: effect on within-day appetite and energy balance [↩]
- Effect of the pattern of food intake on human energy metabolism [↩]
- Feeding frequency and energy balance in adult males [↩]
- Frequency of feeding, weight reduction and energy metabolism [↩]
- Thermogenesis in humans after varying meal time frequency [↩]
- Overnight and basal metabolic rates in men and women [↩]
- Evening Ready-to-Eat Cereal Consumption Contributes to Weight Management [↩]
- Greater Appetite Control Associated with an Increased Frequency of Eating in Lean Males [↩]
- Altering the temporal distribution of energy intake with isoenergetically dense foods given as snacks does not affect total daily energy intake in normal-weight men [↩]