Eat Early for Long-Term Benefits

A Professor's Perspective On Current Events

Professor Kimberlee Bethany Bonura, Ph.D.
By Professor Kimberlee Bethany Bonura, Ph.D.

Eat Early for Long-Term Benefits. Professor Kimberlee Bethany Bonura discusses lifestyle shifts for healthier living.

I am not a fan of diets. Low-carb, low-fat, raw food, Paleo – they all require you to limit what you eat in ways that can end up backfiring. In fact, in controlled empirical studies, while different dietary programs yield different levels of outcomes when it comes to short-term weight loss, in the long-term, all diets fare about the same. Which is: not very well. Overall, only about 20% of dieters succeed in maintaining a weight loss of at least 10% for over one year.

Diets don’t work well, but lifestyle shifts do. Consider shifting your perspective from a diet focus (i.e., specific foods you can or can’t eat) to a lifestyle focus (when you eat, how you eat, and how you approach food in your life).

For instance, consider findings from the National Weight Control Registry, an initiative that tracks Americans who have successfully lost weight and kept it off. Members of this weight-loss success group share several characteristics in common: for instance, they eat breakfast regularly, they have high levels of physical activity, and they keep consistent routines and schedules for their diet and activity. (For more research findings from the National Weight Control Registry, Click Here.)

Regularly eating breakfast may be one key to their success. New research from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania shows the benefits of eating earlier in the day. In a controlled study, healthy adults went through two different conditions. In daytime eating, they had three meals and two snacks between 8 am and 7 pm. In delayed eating, they ate the same three meals and two snacks between noon and 11 pm.

This article is part of our Professor’s Perspective series—a place for experts to share their views and opinions on current events.

In both conditions, they ate the same types and amounts of food and slept the same amount. Yet the later eaters gained weight and had respiratory markers which indicated they were less effective in metabolizing the food they ate. Digest that: eating the same food, later in the day, led to weight gain and less effective metabolism.

Are you ready to close your kitchen at 7 pm? That one simple change could make a difference in your weight for the long run!

Food author Michael Pollan offers this good advice for changing your relationship with food: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” To that simple guidance, let’s add the following: Eat it earlier in the day.

For more with Professor Bonura, check out “How to Stay Fit as You AgeWondrium!