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The root of weight loss is eating fewer calories than you burn in a day, choosing the right foods, and exercising to stay healthy.
However, these are not the only steps you can take to optimize your weight loss program. According to recent research, the timing of your meals also determines how these calories are consumed by the body, and breakfast can work in your favor if you try to target fat. It all depends on the body's daily rhythm, which has a lot more to do than just when you get tired.
Circadian rhythms are all "physical, mental, or behavioral changes that follow a daily cycle," according to the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. In this special study, the researchers wanted to see how a person's metabolism processes food at different points during the day and night.
They monitored the metabolism of their subjects in breathing chambers throughout the room in two separate 56-hour sessions. In both sessions, participants were given three meals a day, with lunch and dinner served at 12:30 p.m. or 5:54 p.m. In one of the sessions, they received breakfast at 8:00 a.m., while the other provided a nutritionally equivalent meal at 10:00 p.m. instead. Fasting overnight was the same for both sessions.
The researchers were surprised to find that switching from breakfast to a nightly snack changed the way the body used carbohydrates and fat as fuel, although the total daily energy and diet were the same in both sessions. If the subjects ate right before bedtime, they burned less fat than at breakfast within 24 hours and skipped the night snack.
Is breakfast the most important meal of the day? We can't say for sure, but the results of this study suggest that you should opt for breakfast instead of consuming your calories right before bed.