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Is Timing Everything? It May Be When it Comes to Food

By Dr. Natasha Turner ND Y

our mother always told you that breakfast was the most impor- tant meal of the day, but does it matter when you eat it? Or does dinner really need to be at the

same time each day? Does timing actually matter? Eating at the appropriate times throughout the day will help maximize fat burning, avoid hormonal interference and keep hunger at bay.

Start Off on The Right Bite There’s a good reason why I tell patients to eat within one hour of rising and never within the three hour period before bed- time—it makes a significant difference in body composition. A study from 2005 found evidence that people who skip breakfast compensate later in the day with more re- fined carbohydrates and fats and fewer fruits and vegetables. Skipping breakfast was also associated with significantly higher fasting total and LDL cholesterol, and impaired post-meal insulin sensitivity. If you must eat before bed, opt for a light meal or snack that is high in protein and low in carbohydrate and fat, such as plain yogurt, a protein shake made with berries and water, salad with grilled chicken, or shrimp and veggie stir-fry. Stick to eggs or whey protein shakes at breakfast and you will tend to eat less throughout the day.

The Déjà Vu Of Meal Timing By eating smaller meals more frequently

(i.e. approximately every three hours), you will also help maintain a steady level of blood sugar. Not unlike the aforementioned study, an older study published in the Jour- nal of Personality and Social Psychology manipulated “dinner time” for 22 obese and 24 healthy-weight individuals to determine whether eating behaviour changed when standard mealtimes were altered. They found that the obese group ate more when they thought they were eating after their regular dinner hour compared to when they thought that they were eating before. Moreover, skipping a meal entirely causes blood sugar imbalance and raises cortisol levels, which in turn has a host of negative consequences from increasing belly fat to disrupting insulin receptors.

Avoid the late day binge We have all been there—the to-do list

34 canfitpro NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2013

piles up during the day and before you know it you find yourself sitting in front of the fridge at night, having barely eaten anything earlier and your appetite catches up to you— with a vengeance. According to research, meal frequency has a positive impact on your body composition—the caveat here is that the meals must be smaller in size than simply doubling up on plate portions. One older study found that an increase in meal frequency lowered overall body mass in men and had a positive impact on energy levels through the day in both genders. Another study found that spreading out your food intake keeps you fuller, longer during the day and also sustains fat oxidation (a.k.a the use of fat as fuel) at night. As an added bonus, more is not only better—this simple activity has a favourable effect on lowering plasma cholesterol and raising the HDL/ LDL cholesterol ratio.

Keep it Frequent: A study published in the International

Journal of Obesity, found that consuming meals earlier in the day was associated with faster and more impressive weight loss. Re- search scientists monitored the eating habits and weight loss success of 420 overweight Spanish participants on a 20-week diet pro- gram. Participants consumed about 40% of their daily calories (roughly 550 to 570) at lunch. In the end, the group that ate lunch after 3:00 p.m. lost an average of 17 pounds compared with a weight loss of 22 pounds in the early-lunch group. The late eaters consumed fewer calories during breakfast and were more likely to skip breakfast than early eaters. The latter also had lower insulin sensitivity, which is a risk factor for diabetes (and certainly weight gain in general). Some people may prefer three larger meals and one snack, while others may like four equally- sized meals. You are free to find the best combination that works for you. If you can lose an extra five pounds just by spreading out your meals (and eating at the same time each day) it’s certainly worth it.

Dr. Natasha Turner is North America’s leading naturopathic doctor and founder of the Clear Medicine Wellness Boutique in Toronto, Canada. She is the author of three bestselling books, The Hormone Diet, The Supercharged Hormone Diet and The Carb Sensitivity Program. She was recently recognized by the Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors as being a leader in her field and is a regular guest expert on The Dr. Oz Show. Her work has been endorsed by New York Times bestselling authors, Suzanne Somers, Dr. William Davis and Dr. Christiane Northrup. Visit

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