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The Key to Weight Loss is Not Just When We Eat, But What We Eat

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There has been a lot in the press lately about the importance of when to eat for weight loss. While this is key, we must also remember that what we eat and how much we eat, is also important for achieving weight loss goals.

I've written a lot about this subject in the past, and if you look at it sensibly - if we consume 70% of our calories early on in the day, then we have more time to burn them off. On the other hand if we're eating large meals, with all the wrong foods later on in the day we don't have time to burn them off.

It has been ingrained in us that the biggest meal of our day should be our dinner - but that's not the case.Your digestive system slows down in the evening, therefore you need to give yourself at least three hours for the food to digest before bed.

And your evening meal needs to be light, which means a light protein food like chicken, fish, tofu or lentils combined with lots of colourful vegetables. Aim to stay away from heavy carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, rice and potatoes.

Your perfect plate would be a protein portion roughly the size of your fist and then 2/3 of your plate vegetables. This light evening meal will set you up for a good breakfast. If you have a heavy evening meal, it will still be sitting in your stomach come the morning and you'll be less likely to want breakfast.

You should be aiming to eat breakfast within one hour of waking - this is key for weight loss and energy. In terms of portion size, breakfast can be similar to dinner, if anything slightly bigger.

A slow release carbohydrate such as porridge oats, combined with a protein food such as nuts or seeds. The slow release carbohydrate combined with protein will give your great energy for the morning and will kick-start your metabolism for the day. Avoid the refined breakfast cereals, as these tend to be high in sugar, which is not helpful for both energy and weight loss.

In a perfect world you want lunch as your biggest meal of the day, eating before 2pm or 3pm at the latest. Some people say I can't eat a big lunch because it makes me sleepy in the afternoon; the solution to this is in what you eat for lunch.

Yes if you eat a high carbohydrate lunch such as lots of sandwiches, a jacket potato or pasta you will be hit with a big drop in energy and you won't be helping your weight loss goals. Instead make sure lunch is at least 40% made up of a protein food, combined with a slow release carbohydrate food, such as quinoa, brown rice or vegetables with chicken, fish, lentils or tofu.

Think of it like this, if you eat well throughout the day, then come your evening meal, you'll be happy with a light meal. It's only when you don't eat well enough through the day that you become an evening animal monster that wants to eat everything in sight.

The old saying of "breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper", is not too far from the truth to help you achieve weight loss. However given how our digestive system is slower in the morning than lunchtime, the revised saying that works best for weight loss is: "breakfast like a prince, lunch like a king and dinner like a pauper, plus a few healthy pauper snacks thrown in through the day".