Eat a big lunch but small dinner to lose weight faster and not feel cranky

A lot of things have been said about weight loss. But not many have linked it to the amount of food taken in during lunch and dinner.

A recent study has shed light on the relationship of food intake during lunch and dinner. The findings of this study could help people who want to lose weight. Researchers found that subjects who took a heavy lunch and a small dinner (the LM group) lost more weight and body mass than those who consumed more food during dinner and less at lunch (DM group). The LM group also had lower insulin resistance and therefore showed improved health compared to the DM group.

Experiment design

Eighty overweight and obese women aged 18 to 45 were asked to take either a main meal at lunch (LM) or dinner (DM) for 12 weeks while they were enrolled in a weight-loss program. Researchers randomly assigned them into two groups. Of the 69 women who completed the trial, 35 got 15 percent of their energy source at breakfast, 15 percent during snack time, 50 percent at lunch and 20 percent during dinnertime. These women belonged to the LM group. The DM group, which consisted of 34 women, took a heavy dinner and a light lunch.

A doctor conducted regular screening visits on the subjects, all of whom completed the Beck Depression Inventory and the Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire.

This study supports the opinion of health professionals and nutritionists who recommend that overweight people must take their main meal at lunch instead of dinner. The recent research also strengthens the results of a clinical study which showed that eating late in the day led to lower glucose tolerance and fasting carbohydrate oxidation. Lower glucose tolerance can be a sign of diabetes and impaired carbohydrate oxidation may make it hard for the body to break down carbohydrates for use in various important processes.

What all this boils down to is, lunch is an important meal. The problem is, many people, especially working professionals swamped with a lot of work, or those who hold quick lunch meetings, take it for granted. (Related: Lasting weight loss comes from health and nutrition not ‘diet drinks’ or ‘diet foods’.)

Here are lunch habits that have to be broken if you want to enjoy all its health benefits.

  •  Always going out for lunch – It’s convenient and fun to bond with colleagues by going out for lunch with them. But it’s not good for those who want to lose weight. Nutritionist-dietitian Brittany Kohn observes that restaurant food is usually served in large, calorie-heavy portions. You can’t lose weight if you frequent these places. If you can’t avoid going out for lunch, try cutting those restaurant trips to a couple times a week.
  • Consuming pre-packaged lunch – Sandwiches and salads that seem healthy in your local supermarket or deli can be teeming with hidden calories. Limit brown bagging or takeout food to once or twice a week. Prepare food at home instead. It’s healthier and contains fewer calories.
  • Standing up the whole time – Kohn reports that those who eat standing up consume 30 extra calories than those who sit down. So take your time, sit down, chew your food and enjoy. Slowing down a bit for our lunch is not such a waste of time.
  • Eating while e-mailing or web surfing – Kohn says taking lunch while catching up on e-mails can be distracting. You’ll find it hard to realize that you’re already full. So turn off your computer or other electronic gadgets as much as possible while you’re on a lunch break.
  • Washing it down with diet soda – The zero-calorie sweetener it claims to have will make you hungrier. Kohn says it can cause bloating and make you feel tired. Storing water with a slice of lemon in the fridge is a better idea.

Next time you have lunch, think big and enjoy it. Then go slow at night, and focus more on taking a rest. It could be one of your best bets in losing weight.

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