If you want to kick-start weight loss, changing the time of day you eat could be the key.
A review of 28 recent studies concluded that people who eat late at night are more prone to weight gain and obesity than those who eat the majority of their calories earlier in the day.
Dr Gerda Pot, lecturer in nutritional sciences at King’s College London and co-author of the review, said: "There seems to be some truth in the saying ‘eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper'."
The review warned that our hectic lifestyles could be having a negative impact on our health.
"Social jet lag is estimated to affect more than 80% of the general population in central Europe, especially people living in urban areas," it said.
"This discrepancy between our internal body clock and social clock has been linked to a greater risk of diseases like obesity and metabolic syndrome, whilst shorter periods of sleep have been linked to weight gain."
The study authors also said we should consider "with whom we eat" as well as the time, as there is "evidence that regular family meals contribute to healthy eating habits in children and adolescents".
However, Dr Pot noted that further investigation is needed to determine exactly what we should be eating and when.
"Whilst we have a much better understanding today of what we should be eating, we are left with the question as to which meal should provide us with the most energy," she said.
"Although the evidence suggests eating more calories later in the evening is associated with obesity, we are still far from understanding whether our energy intake should be distributed equally across the day or whether breakfast should contribute the greatest proportion of energy."
The review is published in full in the British Journal of Nutrition.
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