Recent weight management strategies have begun putting more emphasis on meal timing. The combination of knowing your protein and caloric requirements, balancing your meals with the 40-30-30 ratio of carbohydrate, protein and fat, and regularly scheduled meal times can help keep blood sugar levels that are already within the normal range steady, help keep hunger in check, and reduce overeating and unhealthy snacking.
When meals are balanced with carbohydrates, protein and fat, blood sugar levels can remain steady for a longer time period. You can easily space meals and snacks throughout the day to suit your lifestyle. Establish specific regularly timed family meals so that you eat breakfast, lunch and dinner as close to the same time each day. You can also include smaller 200-calorie snacks during the day to bridge longer time gaps between meals.
Although studies support larger meals be eaten earlier in the day, the majority of Americans eat their largest meal in the evening between 5 and 7pm. Since excess calories from large meals can spike blood sugar and store body fat, try to limit evening meals to 500 calories. High calorie meals or meals very high in carbohydrates can also leave you feeling lethargic, overly full, sluggish and sleepy. Balanced meals—with fewer calories and quality protein—are easier to digest and can give you a boost of energy, help control hunger, support focus and concentration and balance blood sugar to provide steady energy to keep you going throughout the day and evening.
Below is a sample schedule of well-timed, balanced meals. Simply adjust the times for your unique requirements based on your sleep patterns, work hours and exercise routine.
Sample Meal Time Schedule
Breakfast 7:00 a.m.
Try to eat breakfast within one hour of waking.
Lunch 11:00 a.m.
Eat lunch approximately 4 hours after breakfast.
Snack 3:00 to 4:00 p.m.
Limit balanced snacks to approximately 200 calories. A mid-afternoon snack can help eliminate unhealthy snacking, energy dips and help keep you mentally focused.
Dinner 6:00 to 7:00 p.m.
Try to limit dinner calories to 500 or less.
Snack 10:00 p.m.
If you are a night owl, include a low-calorie, balanced snack.
So find the ideal meal times that work for your schedule and stick as closely as possible to them. Timing meals can have a positive effect on weight loss and the way you look, feel and perform.
Joyce Daoust is a Certified Nutritionist, Balance Bar Spokesperson and national best selling co-author ofTHE FORMULA, A Personalized 40-30-30 Weight Loss Program.