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."
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.