Here's Some Advice On Best Time To Eat Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner...But We Wouldn't Recommend Following It
A headline like "Revealed: The best times to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner if you want to lose weight" is sure to draw attention, especially given all the ambiguity in current nutrition science. Many small meals vs. intermittent fasting, low carb vs. whole grains, reduced fat vs. healthy fats: it's enough to make your head spin. Some guidance about when to eat would be welcome, if it were well-supported. But there's definitely no need to start worrying about eating breakfast every day at 7:11a.m, like this Daily Mail article suggests — this particular weight-loss finding is all hype and no science.
So, just what is the evidence that you should eat breakfast at 7:11a.m., lunch at 12:38p.m., and dinner at 6:14p.m. anyways? Basically 1,000 dieters were polled about their beliefs about weight loss, and these times were what they reported. That's right: people who need or want to lose weight were asked how to lose weight. This is a bit like asking for relationship advice from your single friends, right? For all we know, people who most successfully manage their weight eat at 10:24a.m., 2:47p.m., and 11:03p.m. — and that wouldn't be reflected in this poll, because they never need to diet.
Poll respondents' reports regarding their diet mistakes are a bit more illuminating:
The findings showed that the crucial four hours between 6pm and 10pm was when most diets went wrong. The majority of respondents - 56 per cent - said they consumed the most calories during this time. A further 54 per cent said they ate more than half their daily calorie intake during this period. What scuppered many diets was snacking around 8pm in front of the TV - a lapse suffered by 62 per cent of those polled.
But then again, that's not really headline worthy: "Revealed: Don't eat junk food in front of the television." Our moms have been telling us this since time immemorial already.
Oh, and by the way, did I mention that the study was conducted by a semi-sketchy diet supplements company? No guise of academic rigor here: Forza Supplements is the U.K. distributor of a popular diet pill containing "T5," some proprietary blend of mostly caffeine, green tea extract, and a common amino acid. Indeed, much of the article hyping the poll's findings consists of unsubstantiated quotes by Forza Supplements' director, hardly an unbiased source. Furthermore he can hardly keep from contradicting himself:
"Calories get burned up no matter when you eat them - but if you eat dinner late, you're not as likely to get rid of those calories before going to bed."
Wait, what? So it doesn't matter when you eat your calories, or it does? Maybe we'd know if Forza supplements had conducted any real, scientifically-valid research, but they didn't. Move right along, dieters — there's nothing to see here.