Learn to Clock Your Calories and Lose Weight

Consume your calories at the right time of day to feel better and lose weight.

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It's All About Timing


If you're trying to slim down, consider this new research: When you eat could impact your weight. "Most people eat in a crescendo, taking in about 70% of their calories after 6 p.m.," explains Lauri Wright, PhD, RDN, an Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson. This can lead to extra pounds for several reasons—including the fact that glucose isn't metabolized as quickly at night, making it more likely to turn into fat. Instead, adopt our timely tricks for weight loss you can set your watch to.

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Don't skip breakfast. Jump-start your metabolism with a meal that's at least one-third of your total daily calories, suggests Wright, who is also an assistant professor at the University of South Florida. (That amount varies from 530 to 800 calories for women, depending on age, height, weight and level of activity.) A 2013 study of overweight women found that those who ate more calories at breakfast than at dinner lost more weight than those who did the reverse.

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10:30 a.m.


Ditch that midmorning bite. Research shows that women who snack between breakfast and lunch lose less weight than those who don't. Get in the habit of a bigger breakfast that includes lean protein and healthy fat and you should cruise through the morning without hunger pangs.

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Make time for an early lunch. Ignore your ever-growing to-do list if you must, because delaying your midday meal could pack on pounds. Research finds dieters who lunched earlier in the day lost an average of nearly 5 more pounds than their peers who ate later in the afternoon.

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3:30 p.m.


Grab a snack. A midafternoon nosh of about 200 calories will energize you and make you less likely to overeat at dinner. "It revs your metabolism and lets you avoid the dips in glucose that result in feeling extra hungry," says Wright. Hummus and whole-grain crackers or fruit and almonds will supply you with the boost you need to deal with late-afternoon stressors (think looming deadlines!).

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Stay out of the kitchen after dinner. Going without food for planned time periods—what researchers call "intermittent fasting"—can spur weight loss. In one small study, men who didn't eat between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. lost nearly a pound in two weeks—without otherwise changing their eating habits. "Eating late at night seems to disrupt circadian rhythms and slow down metabolism," says Wright. Intermittent fasting overnight helps eliminate impulse night eating to create a slimmer you.