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Timing of food intake predicts weight loss effectiveness

A Corrigendum to this article was published on 09 April 2013

This article has been updated

Abstract

Background:

There is emerging literature demonstrating a relationship between the timing of feeding and weight regulation in animals. However, whether the timing of food intake influences the success of a weight-loss diet in humans is unknown.

Objective:

To evaluate the role of food timing in weight-loss effectiveness in a sample of 420 individuals who followed a 20-week weight-loss treatment.

Methods:

Participants (49.5% female subjects; age (mean±s.d.): 42±11 years; BMI: 31.4±5.4 kg m−2) were grouped in early eaters and late eaters, according to the timing of the main meal (lunch in this Mediterranean population). 51% of the subjects were early eaters and 49% were late eaters (lunch time before and after 1500 hours, respectively), energy intake and expenditure, appetite hormones, CLOCK genotype, sleep duration and chronotype were studied.

Results:

Late lunch eaters lost less weight and displayed a slower weight-loss rate during the 20 weeks of treatment than early eaters (P=0.002). Surprisingly, energy intake, dietary composition, estimated energy expenditure, appetite hormones and sleep duration was similar between both groups. Nevertheless, late eaters were more evening types, had less energetic breakfasts and skipped breakfast more frequently that early eaters (all; P<0.05). CLOCK rs4580704 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) associated with the timing of the main meal (P=0.015) with a higher frequency of minor allele (C) carriers among the late eaters (P=0.041). Neither sleep duration, nor CLOCK SNPs or morning/evening chronotype was independently associated with weight loss (all; P>0.05).

Conclusions:

Eating late may influence the success of weight-loss therapy. Novel therapeutic strategies should incorporate not only the caloric intake and macronutrient distribution—as is classically done—but also the timing of food.

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Change history

  • 09 April 2013

    This article has been corrected since online publication and a corrigendum is also printed in this issue

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Acknowledgements

This study was supported by grants from Tomás Pascual and Pilar Gómez-Cuétara Foundations, Spanish Government of Science and Innovation (BFU2011-24720), Séneca Foundation from the Government of Murcia (15123/PI/10). National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute grants HL-54776, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, grant number DK075030, and by contracts 53-K06-5-10 and 58-1950-9-001 from the US Department of Agriculture Research, and by National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute grant R01 HL094806, and by National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, grant R21 DK089378.

Author contributions

MG, FAJLS designed the research; MG, PGA, JJAB, YCL, JMO conducted the research; MG, FAJLS analyzed data; MG, FAJLS wrote the paper; MG had primary responsibility for final content. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to M Garaulet.

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Garaulet, M., Gómez-Abellán, P., Alburquerque-Béjar, J. et al. Timing of food intake predicts weight loss effectiveness. Int J Obes 37, 604–611 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1038/ijo.2012.229

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/ijo.2012.229

Keywords

  • timing of food intake
  • weight loss
  • dietary treatment
  • circadian

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