Dieters take note - when you eat may be setting you back

Feet on scaleShutterstockA woman checking her weight in the morning.

Everyday we hear about the latest trends in dieting or about a new superfood to help with weight loss. But it looks like there may be more to dieting than changing what we eat.

A new review published today in the Proceedings of the Nutrition Society suggests that what we eat may not be the only problem. When we eat matters too.

Professors from King’s College London reviewed a study from the International Journal of Obesity. They found that eating meals in an irregular pattern, instead of following our biological clocks, can lead to a higher risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.

The study group consisted of 1,768 participants of the National Survey of Health and Development. They reported their dietary intake for 5 days, including all main meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) as well as snacks. Researchers then took gender, physical activity levels, socio-economic status, marital status, and smoking into consideration and calculated the irregularity of eating and its link to higher cardio-metabolic risk.

They discovered that irregularities in eating times can have an affect on your internal clock. Body processes, like metabolism and digestion, follow this clock, and food consumption is constantly influencing it. Scientists are now starting to further study how exactly our eating habits are affecting our bodies natural clocks.

The current trend of eating small and frequent meals may not be as great of a plan as diets claim they are. People looking to lose weight should consider eating fewer meals, with less calories than, a bunch of small meals and snacks throughout the day.

The reviewers of the study believe that “social jet lag” is one of the factors contributing to irregular eating, as well as weight gain and metabolic syndrome. “Social jet lag” is when people — usually in urban areas — live by social clocks instead of their bodies’ internal clocks, which usually signal hunger.

Finally, they found that people with the most varied caloric intake throughout the day, as well as those who skipped breakfast to then consume more later in the day, were at higher risk of weight gain and metabolic problems.

It looks like the old saying “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” may indeed be an important factor for those trying to cut some inches from their waistline. If you are really serious about losing weight and avoiding other health problems, it may be time to start paying attention to when you eat, not just what.

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