of Nutritionfinds meal timing may be one way to reach
and maintain a lower body weight, based on feedback from 50,000
participants in the Adventist Health Study 2 (AHS-2) who participated in
a 7-year follow-up study. The researchers analyzed data on meal timing
and meal frequency, in relationship to changes in body mass index (BMI),
a measure of body weight.
Lead author Hana Kahleova, M.D., Ph.D., completed the study as a
postdoctoral research fellow at Loma Linda University and co-authors the
study with Gary Fraser, Ph.D., a professor at the Loma Linda University
School of Medicine and Public Health and the director of AHS-2.
researchers with the Loma Linda University School of Public Health.
Dr. Hana Kahleova, director of clinical research at the nonprofit
Physicians Committee, finds AHS-2 participants with the lowest increase
in body mass index (BMI) participate in four behaviors: 1. They eat
breakfast instead of skipping it. 2. They make breakfast the largest
meal of the day. 3. They don’t eat snacks. 4. Their overnight fast
is longer and may last 18 hours.
The study participants with the highest increase in BMI consumed more
than three daily meals, which means they ate snacks. Ate their
largest meal after 6 p.m.
“The ancient advice to eat breakfast like a king and dinner like a
pauper has new science to back its claim,” says Dr. Kahleova. “Based on
previous research, we continue to find our body’s metabolism works most
efficiently earlier on in the day.”
For those who want to reach and maintain a healthy weight and boost
insulin function, Dr. Kahleova recommends eating breakfast and lunch,
spacing meals five to six hours apart. Making breakfast the largest meal
of the day. Skipping snacks and dinner. Fasting for 18 hours, say
from 2 p.m. to 8 a.m. For an added edge, based on prior research, she
recommends exercising for an hour each day and building meals around
nutrient-dense, plant-based foods.
“As a clinical researcher, my day changes on a moment’s notice and I
understand overnight fasts may not fit into everyone’s lifestyle, at
least not every day,” says Dr. Kahleova. “However, by understanding our
biology, we can rearrange our meals so that they work for us, instead of
against us, to fast-track our health and weight-loss goals, whether it’s
losing five pounds or reversing a family history of type 2 diabetes.”
In the discussion notes, the researchers mention this study supports
previous findings that suggest regular breakfast consumption may help
increase satiety. Reduce total energy intake. Improve overall dietary
quality, measured by increased consumption of fiber- and nutrient-dense
foods, which are often consumed at breakfast. Reduce blood lipids.
improve insulin sensitivity at a subsequent meal. Compared to eating
meals in the evening, breakfast may help boost insulin function and
provide a steady release of energy throughout the day.
The study used a linear regression analysis, adjusted to measure
important demographic and lifestyle factors.
The study strengths include analyzing a large, diverse population with
various BMI ranges—over a 7-year period—and capturing precise meal times
and BMI values. Potential weaknesses include a correlative analysis,
lack of information about the number of calories consumed per meal.
the ability to differentiate between intentional and unintentional
The full text of the study, entitled “Meal Frequency and Timing Are
Associated with Changes in Body Mass Index in Adventist Health Study 2,”
is supported by grants from the National Cancer Institute, the World
Cancer Research Fund. The Ministry of Health of the Czech Republic.
To request an interview with Dr.
Hana Kahleova, contact Jessica Frost at 202-527-7342 or [email protected].
Jessica Frost, 202-527-7342