Should You Skip Dinner to Lose Weight?
There's an old saying about healthy eating: “Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and supper like a pauper.” In other words, front-load more calories in the early part of the day. But does that mean you should be skipping dinner if you want to lose weight? The short answer: Not necessarily.
In a January 2021 Nutrients study, researchers found that college-aged students who regularly skipped dinner gained more weight than their counterparts who — for the most part — ate dinner daily. Dinner-skippers gained about 10 percent of their body weight over the six-year study period and were also more likely to be in the overweight/obese category (BMI≥25kg/m2). These findings were consistent in both people assigned male at birth and people assigned female at birth.
“People who skip dinner still eat throughout the evening, they just tend to eat more snack-like foods, which is what would lead to weight gain,” says a researcher, “From my experience, most likely load up on snacks that tend to lack nutrition, are low in fiber and protein, and high in sugar and carbs. These types of food rarely fill you up but can lead to eating more.”
Still, there's other research that indicates skipping dinner could encourage weight loss. For instance, the research, based on a seven-year dietary analysis of 50,000 adults, found that body weight, measured by body mass index, corresponds with when we eat and how often we eat. Specifically, people who eat larger breakfasts and adopt an 18-hour overnight fast, say from 1 pm to 7 am, have the lowest body weights. Those who ate more than three meals, or three meals plus snacks, had higher BMIs.
Skipping dinner seems to work in the above study because participants were essentially intermittent fasting versus forgoing dinner and then having a snackfest later in the evening. “When people implement intermittent fasting, skipping dinner can be a powerful weight-loss tool,” says the researcher, “this type of fasting is called circadian rhythm fasting and mimics our traditional eating patterns. The goal is to eat when the sun comes up and finish eating when the sun goes down. Eating in line with your circadian rhythms can make for better weight management as well as improved sleep, etc.”
Of course, this intermittent fasting approach isn't for everyone. People who maintain highly active lifestyles, for instance, and need adequate fuel to power morning runs or help muscle fibers recover from intense evening workouts like weightlifting might not benefit.
If you're looking to lose 10 pounds, eating a healthy and light dinner will help your body maintain its functions. Also, dinner is important because after a long day full of activities, your body needs to fuel up. It is unhealthy if you skip your dinner or consume way too much for dinner. So, the key is to maintain balance.
1. pauper n. 乞丐；穷人；靠救济度日者
2. front-load v. 将（费用、经历等）更多地用于前期
3. nutrient n. 营养物
4. BMI n. 体重指数（body mass index的缩写）
5. intermittent fasting 间歇性禁食；断食疗法
6. circadian rhythm 生理节律； 近昼夜节律；日周期节律
7. mimics v. 模仿