While counting your calories will help regulate your weight, researchers suggest there could be more to your diet than 'what' you eat.

A new study has shed light on a new factor that is necessary to shed pounds: timing.

Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital, in collaboration with the University of Murcia in Spain, have found that it's not simply what you eat, but also when you eat, that may help with weight-loss regulation.

"This is the first large-scale prospective study to demonstrate that the timing of meals predicts weight-loss effectiveness," said Frank Scheer, senior author on the study, according to a statement.

"Our results indicate that late eaters displayed a slower weight-loss rate and lost significantly less weight than early eaters, suggesting that the timing of large meals could be an important factor in a weight loss program."

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A 20-week study of 420 overweight individuals in Spain found that those who ate their lunch after 3pm lost significantly less weight than those who grabbed their sandwiches earlier.

Late-eaters also had a lower estimated insulin sensitivity, a risk factor for diabetes.

Researchers found that timing of the other (smaller) meals did not play a role in the success of weight loss.

"This study emphasizes that the timing of food intake itself may play a significant role in weight regulation" explains Marta Garaulet, professor of physiology at the University of Murcia

"Novel therapeutic strategies should incorporate not only the caloric intake and macronutrient distribution, as it is classically done, but also the timing of food."

The study will be published on January 29, 2013 in the International Journal of Obesity.

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  • Take Smaller Sips

    It certainly sounds like a tall tale, but research consistently shows that taking in a smaller amount of liquid helps you consume less. And the latest study confirms that not only do <a href="http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0053288" target="_hplink">people drink more when they sip big</a>, they also underestimate how much they drank, researchers reported in the journal <em>PloS One</em>. For the study, researchers invited 53 participants to drink as much broth as they wanted, but divided them into three sip-size groups: small sips of five grams, big sips of 15 grams and "free" sips of a natural-seeming size to the participants. They found that those who took small sips drank 30 percent less broth than those who took big or "free" sips.

  • Pick Something Stinky

    Foods with a strong smell may help curb your portion control, <a href="http://www.flavourjournal.com/content/1/1/3">according to a 2012 study in <em>Flavor</em></a>. Study participants were given vanilla custard and were exposed to varying intensities of vanilla scent. When they smelled more vanilla, <a href="http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode.cfm?id=strong-food-smell-cuts-down-quantit-12-03-20">they ate smaller portions</a>, Scientific American reported.

  • Choose A Contrasting Color

    Want to eat less of those mashed potatoes? Don't pick a white plate. Choosing a container with <a href="http://foodpsychology.cornell.edu/outreach/color_plate.html">a color that contrasts the food</a> helps you heap less on to begin with, according to a study in the <em>Journal of Consumer Research</em>.

  • Use A Vibrating Fork

    The HAPIfork helps users from eating too fast by vibrating as soon as it senses too many bites per minute, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20130109/us-tec-gadget-show-gadget-watch-electronic-fork/">thanks to its smart sensor</a>. But user beware. <a href="http://www.popsci.com/gadgets/article/2013-01/ces-2013-buzzing-fork-annoys-you-losing-weight">As PopSci pointed out</a>, "One fatal flaw: Hapifork is available in fork form only. So there's nothing to stop you from, say, picking up a spoon and shoveling a gallon of ice cream into your mouth."

  • Eat On A Smaller Plate

    Eating off a small plate can help trick you into thinking you're eating more than you really are -- and <a href="http://news.health.com/2012/10/24/4-ways-to-cut-calorie-intake-at-every-meal/">that can reduce your consumption</a> by 20 percent.

  • Dim The Lights And The Music

    A study of fast food restaurants found that <a href="http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120828194942.htm">adding softer lights and music inspired customers</a> to eat 175 fewer calories per meal -- an 18 percent decrease -- than if they were in the restaurant's normal environment. Why not try it at home?