A plate of food in the shape of a clock face

How do your meal times affect weight gain?

What you eat has a huge affect on your weight. But can when you eat cause weight gain, too?

What causes weight gain?

Weight gain mainly comes down to simple maths: calories. If you consistently eat more calories than your body needs for fuel, you will put on weight. But there’s more to it than just calories in vs calories out. And one of the lesser factors that can influence weight gain is when you eat your food.

How does meal timing affect your weight?

Calories are units of energy, and they are the fuel your body runs off. So it makes sense to eat your most calorie-dense foods around the times when you need most energy. Take this into account when looking at your routine: do you have a physical job or a sedentary one? Do you work 9-5 or shifts? Are your mornings, afternoons, or evenings most active? And when do you exercise? By all means spread your meals out evenly during the day, but eat your more calorific foods when you need the energy. If you eat a large percentage of your food (particularly carbohydrates) in one go, your body could lay down the excess energy as body fat.

How to plan your meal times for weight loss?

Don’t feel you have to eat breakfast first thing (many people don’t feel like it).

Eat when you are hungry (rather than dictating meal times by the clock).

Don’t leave too long between meals and snacks (being too hungry can lead to poor food choices).

Remember that eating late at night doesn’t lead to weight gain (unless that meal tips you into a calorie excess).

Place your calorie-dense and carbohydrate-rich meals around your most active times of day.

Fuel your workouts properly with a small meal or snack of protein, carbohydrate, and water.

Handpicked Content: Find out how eating more frequently can benefit your health

Weight Gain