Best Time To Eat Lunch For Weight Loss - Food Keg (2023)

Lunch is one of the most important meals of the day, but many people often skip it, eat too late and eat the wrong types of foods. By eating a healthy lunch at an appropriate time, you can help to lose weight and maintain lean muscle mass.

If you are looking to lose weight, then it is important to start with a good breakfast. If you skip breakfast time, you will be more hungry later and eat more during the day. A healthy meal including protein such as eggs or an avocado can help keep you full longer. Lunch is another important meal of the day but don’t eat too much or too heavy at lunchtime. Make sure that your lunch contains lots of vegetables and salad and make it smaller than you would normally

Best Time To Eat Lunch For Weight Loss - Food Keg (1)

Eating Time Schedule for Weight Loss

There’s more to weight loss than simply watching calories, which is why many diets focus on food quality or macronutrients. While this approach may help some people lose weight, the reality is that there’s still a lot we don’t know—particularly when it comes to the environmental and biological variables that facilitate (or hinder) weight-loss efforts.

One of those variables that’s recently been of interest to researchers is the impact of meal timing. Over the past five years, several studies—all looking at weight loss, but each with a different focus and approach—have suggested similar findings: the time that you eat meals has a big impact on weight-loss success.

So, what are those optimal times to eat meals when trying to lose weight? There aren’t exact times to share, since these would likely differ by individual, but there are some general recommendations for meal timing. Here’s what research suggests is most effective for weight loss, starting with dinner and working back to the slightly more-controversial meal, breakfast.


Recipe pictured above: Grilled Flank Steak & Corn with Green Goddess Butter

The overall consensus among health professionals and researchers is that it’s best to eat dinner early (at least two to three hours before going to bed), and then close the kitchen for the night. This deters late-night snacking and allows the body to burn some calories off before bed. It also gives the body time for digestion, which allows for more restful sleep later. When you go to bed on a full stomach, you’re less likely to get adequate, good-quality sleep which triggers hormonal changes that can deter weight loss.

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There are two other reasons to dine early, though they aren’t quite as obvious. First, new research suggests that our circadian rhythms enable the body to more efficiently burn calories, control blood glucose and optimize digestion earlier in the day. This means eating dinner at 5 p.m., as opposed to 8 p.m., could potentially impact weight loss by aligning closer to the body’s internal clock. Second, an early dinner increases the block of time we go without food, which increases fat-burning and improves regulation of hormones that impact appetite, cravings and blood sugar.


Recipe pictured above: Salmon Caesar Salad

The timing of lunch appears to have the least impact on weight loss, but what is notable about lunch is that it should be your biggest meal (along with breakfast if consumed). This goes back to those circadian rhythms driving the body’s increased efficiency earlier in the day when it comes to digesting food, burning calories and regulating hormones.

And when we remember that food is fuel for our body, front-loading to get most of your required daily calories and nutrients in by early afternoon also makes sense from a practical, biological standpoint.


Recipe pictured above: Date & Pine Nut Overnight Oatmeal

Instead of asking what time to eat breakfast, the more popular question of late is: Should you eat breakfast if you’re trying to lose weight?

While there’s not a definitive answer, two things are clear: First, all of us technically “fast” each night while asleep, and almost everyone benefits from this fast. Healthy individuals should aim to go at least 12 hours between dinner and the next day’s first meal for health benefits, including weight loss.

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These two things can also play out several ways. For example, you can end dinner by 7 p.m. and then eat breakfast at 7 a.m. Or, if you’re a fan of intermittent fasting or don’t like to eat breakfast, you may end dinner by 7 p.m. and then eat your first meal after 11 a.m.

The takeaway is that you can successfully lose weight with both scenarios—being a regular breakfast eater or being an intermittent faster who skips breakfast. But there are two keys to this: The first is to make sure you get at least a 12-hour break between dinner and the next meal. The second is, regardless of whether you eat your first meal at 7 a.m. or 11 a.m., to make that first meal substantial and nutrient-dense.

What does all of this really mean for weight loss when it comes to scheduling meals? From a professional standpoint, it suggests there’s a lot more to learn about weight loss. But I also think that tweaking a few meal times and eating habits could have a pretty substantial impact on weight-loss pursuits and overall health. So if you’re not sure where to start, here are a few ideas to try.

1.) Eat breakfast, but not necessarily in the morning. “Breakfast” technically refers to when you break your fast from the previous day, and there is no specific time that should occur as explained in above in the breakfast discussion. What’s important is that when you break your fast, you fuel your body for the day with nutrient-rich foods (we love oatmeal or avocado toast with an egg.)

2.) Prioritize eating the first half of the day. Aim to consume the majority of your calories and nutrients by mid-afternoon. Also, remember there is no right or wrong way to do this. For one person, this may mean eating breakfast, lunch and two snacks. For another, it may mean eating a large brunch meal and one snack.

3.) Make dinner early and light. You may even consider eating as early as 4 or 5 p.m. ideal. If this isn’t possible, then try to eat dinner at least three or more hours before bed.

4.) Go 12 hours between dinner and your next meal to reap benefits that facilitate weight loss, fat burning, metabolism and management of appetite and cravings. An easy way to achieve this is to push dinner a little earlier or skip the late-night snacks. Healthy individuals may consider going longer (13 to 16 hours) to reap even greater benefits in terms of fat-burning.

While often beneficial to the health of all individuals, those with a chronic health condition such as diabetes should consult with their health care provider, particularly if this is significantly different from their current eating times.

Best Time to Eat Breakfast for Weight Loss

When trying to lose weight, most of us focus on what we eat – and for good reason. What we consume is a key component of how much we weigh, more so than how much we exercise or whether we follow any particular fad diet.

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Yet like all things related to the human body, weight loss is complex. While what we eat is critical, when we eat is also important. Our bodies’ digestive organs work most effectively during the day, which means that we should focus on consuming most of our calories during daylight hours, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

At Ideal You, we understand that losing weight isn’t as simple as calories in versus calories out. Our program takes into account all of the factors that can affect your ability to lose weight – like sleep, hydration, and even when you eat. Our team will work with you to help you drop pounds in a safe, sustainable way – without ever asking you to buy expensive weight loss shakes or do hours of strenuous exercise.

Does Timing Really Matter When It Comes to Eating?
While it may not be obvious, the time of day that you eat can have a significant impact on weight loss. This is due to our bodies’ circadian rhythms, which are the physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a 24 hour cycle. These rhythms serve as our bodies’ natural timing devices, prompting us to go to bed at night and even regulating our body temperature.

Our circadian rhythms are complicated, involving specific molecules that interact with cells throughout the body. For example, we gather information about incoming light through our optic nerve, which then sends the info from our eyes to the brain. When it starts to get dark outside, our bodies release the hormone melatonin, which makes us sleepy.

Circadian rhythms are also closely linked to metabolism. Specifically, our digestive system is turned on in response to light – when we wake up for the day – and start to shut down when it is dark, as the body releases melatonin. When we eat too late at night, it may disrupt our circadian rhythms.

The human body is designed to cycle between two states: fed and fasted. After we eat, our bodies secrete insulin and use the nutrients in food to create energy stores. When we are fasting (predominantly while sleeping), our bodies use these nutrient stores to function.

Eating at night causes our bodies to remain in the “fed” state for a longer period of time, where we are storing nutrients and building fat. Instead of allowing our bodies to use up our energy stores while we are sleeping to build and repair, eating in the evening actually prompts our bodies to continue to store fat. This can make it easy to gain weight – and difficult to shed unwanted pounds.

A number of studies have shown that eating later in the evening is associated with increased body fat. In 2017, researchers found that people who ate at night, when the brain is preparing for sleep, tend to have higher levels of body fat – regardless of the amount or type of food that they ate, or their activity level.

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Similar studies have shown that eating later in the day leads to higher daily calorie intake, which is associated with weight gain. Consuming calories at night has also been linked to

obesity and difficulty losing weight, due to disturbances of the circadian rhythm, which causes metabolic dysfunction.

For people who work swing shifts or predominantly at night, this can make weight loss particularly difficult. A 2020 study of police officers working morning, evening and night shifts found that more calories were consumed during night shift days than on any other days. This led researchers to hypothesize that the timing of meals has a major impact on weight gain and obesity, particularly for shift workers.

When Should I Eat My Meals to Lose Weight?
There is an old saying that you should eat like a king at breakfast, a prince at lunch and a pauper at dinner. This proverb is spot on: the ideal time to eat is between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m., when it is light outside and our bodies are primed to digest food. For weight loss or to maintain your weight, you should try to ingest the most calories at breakfast.

In a 2013 study, researchers followed a group of overweight women for 3 months as they ate a diet that was intended to help them lose weight. Each participant had the same daily caloric intake, yet the women who ate the most calories at breakfast lost 2.5 times more weight than those who ate the most calories at dinner.

At breakfast, focus on protein and healthy fats, which can help you stay satisfied for longer and be less likely to snack throughout the day. For example, you may make zucchini egg wrap cups, filled with protein-rich eggs, to help you power through your morning. If you need a mid-morning snack, choose something healthy – like broccoli florets with dip, or even a small handful of nuts.

When it’s time for lunch, choose a slightly lighter – but still substantial – meal. For example, you may choose to make a chicken and cucumber salad to fill you up without consuming too many calories.

Try to eat dinner before 7 p.m., and eat a comparatively light meal, like a salad with protein. This way, your body will have time to finish digestion before you go to bed – and you won’t prevent your body from using the day’s energy stores to perform its important repair and growth work.

If you are hungry between 7 p.m. and whenever you go to bed, try to stick to water or a healthy, low calorie snack (like carrots). Always try to stop eating 3 to 4 hours before you go to sleep so that you don’t interrupt your body’s circadian rhythms and stall your weight loss efforts.

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Of course, it can be more difficult for people who work at night or who work swing shifts to restrict their eating to daytime hours. In this situation, it may be best to consult with weight loss experts – such as at Ideal You – to get a personalized recommendation on when to eat.

How to Lose a Life-Changing Amount of Weight
We’ve all had moments where we put the kids to bed, and then head straight for the snack cupboard to grab some chips or cookies to eat in front of the TV. While late-night snacking has its appeal, it can make it hard to lose weight – even if you are eating healthy snacks. Sticking to a daytime eating schedule is a better choice if you are looking to shed unwanted pounds.

Ideal You is dedicated to helping people just like you lose weight in a way that is both safe and sustainable. Our team takes into account all of the factors that can make it hard to lose weight, including the timing of your meals. We offer a structured food list and weight loss journal, all natural, food-based supplements to boost your metabolism, and support from weight loss coaches. Together, we can eliminate whatever barrier is holding you back from losing weight.


Does eating before 7pm help lose weight? ›

Eating an Early Dinner Can Help You Burn Fat, Lower Your Blood Sugar. A recent study finds that eating a late dinner can cause weight gain and high blood sugar levels regardless of calories. Eating dinner at 10 p.m. instead of 6 p.m. may affect your blood glucose and the ability to burn fat.

Does eating before 5pm help lose weight? ›

A study at Harvard medical school has found that eating your main meal of the day at 5pm is one of the best ways to lose weight.

Should I eat lunch when losing weight? ›

Bottom Line: Eat a nutrient-packed lunch to help maintain a healthy weight. Instead of waiting to eat your largest meal in the evening, get more calories at lunch and think of meals as "sustaining" your energy throughout the day, in order to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. 2023 The Beet.

Does meal timing matter for fat loss? ›

Nutrient Timing at Night

This is another diet myth, promoted by celebrities and magazines around the world. This reduction of carbs simply helps you reduce total daily calorie intake, creating a calorie deficit — the key factor in weight loss. The timing is not important.

What is the healthiest eating schedule? ›

The goal is to eat every 3 to 4 hours in order to keep your blood sugar consistent and for your stomach to optimally digest. Setting this schedule consistently across days can also help curb overeating which can lead to bloating or indigestion.

What time should I eat if I want to lose weight? ›

Researchers say a diet plan that restricts eating to between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. can help you lose weight.

What time should you stop eating if you're trying to lose weight? ›

As a guide, stop eating two to three hours before bed to avoid weight gain. Finishing meals earlier than this may help boost weight loss.

What time should you stop eating to lose belly fat? ›

If you still want a specific time to stop eating before bed to lose weight, try having your last meal before ten o'clock. Any snack or meal you had after ten o'clock, could delay the body's ability to break down unused macronutrients.

Can I skip afternoon lunch for weight loss? ›

You may think that skipping breakfast or lunch will make the number on the scale drop quicker. The truth is that studies have shown that skipping meals can slow down your metabolism and cause you to gain weight, not lose it.

How much should I eat for lunch to lose weight? ›

If you're wondering, 'how many calories should I eat per meal to lose weight? ', we've done our research and found the answer. Every day, to lose weight, you should eat between 200 and 400 calories for breakfast, 500-700 calories for lunch, and 500-700 calories for dinner.

What should you eat for lunch to lose belly fat? ›

14 delicious easy lunches that will help you lose weight
  • Kale salad with salmon and avocado. ...
  • Tuna wraps with pesto and tomato. ...
  • Peanut butter and banana sandwich. ...
  • Brussel sprouts with grilled chicken. ...
  • Tuna salad. ...
  • Veggie burger. ...
  • Fish tacos. ...
  • Burrito bowl.
Nov 10, 2018

What time should you eat if you eat one meal a day? ›

Eating one meal a day is a form of intermittent fasting or time-restricted eating. Intermittent fasting is usually when you would eat in an 8-hour window, say 12 pm to 8 pm and fast for the other 16 hours (including sleep). People in the know of this approach would refer to the split as the 16:8 fast.

What is the best time to eat one meal a day? ›

Pick a four-hour sector of the day, say noon to 4 p.m. or 2 to 6 p.m., and always eat within one hour of that time to stay consistent from day to day. Use one dinner-size plate, about 11 inches in diameter, for your meal. To avoid having piles of food, the meal shouldn't be higher than 3 inches.

What time of the day is best to eat carbs? ›

The bottom line is that consuming your carbohydrates at dinner and before bed might be better. There's a lot of research to support that. Also, it mentally makes weight loss a lot easier when you know you've got carbohydrates to consume later in the day, as opposed to having consumed them all by breakfast and lunch.

How many meals a day is best for weight loss? ›

According to many experts, eating breakfast jump starts fat burning and 5–6 small meals per day prevent your metabolism from slowing down.

What should I eat daily to lose? ›

If losing weight is your goal, these 18 foods may help support a healthy weight loss journey, according to science.
  • Whole eggs. ...
  • Leafy greens. ...
  • Salmon. ...
  • Cruciferous vegetables. ...
  • Chicken breast and some lean meats. ...
  • Potatoes and other root vegetables. ...
  • Tuna. ...
  • Beans and legumes.

What is the number 1 healthiest food in the world? ›

Spinach is one of the healthiest foods on the planet, it is packed with energy whilst low in calories.

Is it OK to eat before 7pm? ›

Our bodies are not meant to digest food late at night. If you talk to your grandparents or elders, you will realise that people used to eat dinner early in the past. Eating before 7 pm has many benefits – it helps you sleep better, improves digestion, aids in weight loss and so much more.

Is it better to eat before 7pm? ›

According to experts, the best window for eating meals is between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m., and by wrapping up your dinner early, you are more likely to consume fewer calories. This happens because you reach the point of satiety earlier, and your body is able to utilize the food more efficiently.

What are the benefits of eating before 7pm? ›

Experts suggest that dinner should be eaten within 7 pm. Eating an early and light dinner helps to improve sleep, improves digestion, boosts metabolism and also reduces blood pressure, keeping you healthy. Most health problems can be solved in a jiffy if we only start to eat our dinner early.

Can I fast from 7pm to 7am? ›

Having a decent overnight fast may be a great place to start to give your gut bacteria a helping hand. Having a 10-12-hour overnight period, say 7pm-7am where no food is consumed, is a very traditional way of eating.

Do not eat after 9pm? ›

Studies tend to show that when food is consumed late at night — anywhere from after dinner to outside a person's typical sleep/wake cycle — the body is more likely to store those calories as fat and gain weight rather than burn it as energy, says Kelly Allison of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine's ...


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