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Eating at This Time of Day Causes Weight Gain, Study Finds

Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day?

We all know more calories equal weight gain and fewer means weight loss. Of course, there are other things to consider, too. The types and amounts of food eaten is important. But a new study reveals that the time of day you consume most of your calories is also something to keep in mind. Eating later in the day could be adding quite a few calories onto your daily total compared to eating more earlier.

A recent study presented by scientists at the 2020 European and International Conference on Obesity, found that eating later in the day resulted in more calories consumed. Over 1,170 adults answered the U.K.'s National Diet and Nutrition Survey between 2012 and 2017. Results show that participants ate 39.8% of their daily calories, also called energy intake (EI), after 6 p.m. People who ate earlier also usually ate fewer calories throughout the day.

But that's not all. Researchers looked at the foods those surveyed had when eating later in the day. They then ranked them against the Nutrient-Rich Food Index. They found that not only were the later eaters consuming more food, but it wasn't as healthy. (Related: What Happens to Your Body When You Drink a Smoothie Every Day.)

"Our results suggest that consuming a lower proportion of EI in the evening may be associated with a lower daily energy intake, while consuming a greater proportion of energy intake in the evening may be associated with a lower diet quality score," the authors say, according to Medical News Today.

Navigating meal timing can be tricky. According to a 2013 study, our internal Circadian Clock makes us hungrier later. This is why we tend to eat more before a period of fasting, aka sleeping. So although an appetizer, dinner, and dessert (maybe even a midnight snack?) seem appetizing, it's best to stay away from calorie-dense foods and these 25 Foods That Make You Hungrier.

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Amanda McDonald
Amanda has a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and a bachelor's degree in digital journalism from Loyola University Chicago. Read more about Amanda
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