What percentage of your daily food intake occurs at dinner and beyond?
When was the last time your smallest meal was at the end of the day?
If you are like most people, the largest meal you eat during the day is dinner. And if you are like most people, you are also trying to do one or more of the following:
1. Lose weight
2. Improve digestion
3. Eliminate acid reflux (heartburn)
4. Reduce nasal congestion
5. Prevent gas, constipation and bloating
6. Decrease water retention (resulting in swollen ankles and puffy eyes)
7. Relieve arthritis-like joint tightness in the hands
Eating a large dinner short-circuits all of these goals. The problem worsens if you also skip breakfast. Eating high-calorie dinners, especially those followed by desserts high in refined sugars, demand increased bloodflow for digestion. The diverted blood from your brain makes you sleepy. A study1 last year in the journal Obesity compared two groups of women, who ate the same total of calories daily, with the same sensible mixture of carbohydrates and proteins – the difference being that one group consumed the a large breakfast and a small dinner, while the other group ate a small breakfast and large dinner. The former group lost an average of almost 18 pounds over 12 weeks, while the latter group lost only 7 pounds on average.
To boost energy, improve sleep quality and promote weight loss, take these two simple actions:
1. Eat breakfast! Eating a healthy breakfast provides fuel at the beginning of the day, and helps avoid the need to jam in all your nutritional needs in at the end of the day.
2. Reduce meal size at dinner. Dinners should be small, readily digestible meals consisting of a fist-sized portion of beef, chicken, fish or tofu and a side of steamed vegetables or a salad with balsamic vinegar dressing only. That’s it, end of story! If you get hungry closer to bedtime, consider a handful of almonds or cashews.
In my experience, patients have lost up to FIVE pounds in the first week of following these two guidelines! Find a reason to try it: your next high school reunion, wedding or upcoming vacation. I’ll bet this helps you look and feel better!
Jakubowicz, D. et al., High caloric intake at breakfast vs. dinner differentially influences weight loss of overweight and obese women. Obesity 21 (12); pp. 2504-2512, 2013.