- When we eat is an
important factor in weight loss
- Morning and night shifts at
work and jet lag due to travel affect eating patterns and schedule.
at the right time is recommended by a new study
times are a thing of the past now with fast food joints and hectic work
schedules the order of the day. However, there have been two significant
studies that have explored the relevance of meal timings and weight loss. One
of the studies was conducted by researchers from King's College London, Newcastle
University, and published in the Proceedings of the Nutrition Society
while the other study was conducted at the Nestlé Research Centre.
delved into how our internal clock can be affected by our metabolic processes
of our meals
are influenced by the life that we lead and the society that we live in.
‘Eating at the right time is an important factor in weight management.’
Work on Shifts
: It has long been known that people who
work on shifts are at a high risk
of gaining weight and developing
diabetes due to their irregular sleep-eat cycles. Their circadian rhythm
is grossly affected and they
undergo massive changes in their metabolic processes.
Every society has certain beliefs and characteristics that dictate
the meal patterns of individuals. The study found that people in France loved
social drinking and eating and for them lunch was the main meal of the day.
Therefore they consumed maximum calories during that part of the day
. This did
not hold true in Central England where people tend to snack on high-calorie
food throughout the day interspersed with periods of fasting.
Many people tend to skip breakfast as
they are rushing to work or college. A study from Urmea University that asked
University students if they had breakfast revealed that a considerable number
did not. Other studies have shown how eating breakfast
is vital to
maintaining optimum energy levels during the day.
the research about meal timings Dr. Gerda Pot, Visiting Lecturer in the
Diabetes and Nutritional Sciences Division at King's College London said,
"Whilst we have a much better understanding today of what we should be
eating, we are still left with the question as to which meal should provide us
with the most energy."
Dr Pot also
believes that there could be some truth in the adage "Eat breakfast like an
emperor, lunch like a king and dinner like a pauper." Eating additional
calories during the last meal of the day could lead to weight gain. However,
the energy requirements could vary from one person to another and the kind of
work that they do.
Apart from meal
times, the time at which we exercise also plays an
important role in weight loss
Energy levels need to be optimum for
We spoke to Dr
Dharini Krishnan about the significance of the study and the eating patterns
followed in India. Dr Dharini Krishnan is a Consultant Dietitian from Chennai
and has appeared in popular shows on Nutrition, creating awareness about
Q) What is the general eating patterns in India?
A) "Those who follow the traditional pattern of eating, they eat around
10.30 or 11 am. They then have a small tiffin at 3 pm and Dinner by 7 pm."
"Office goers especially those who travel long distances have no time to eat
in the morning.They drink a cup of coffee or tea, go to the food court or breakfast provided by the office by 8 or 9 am. Lunch and late evening tea are provided by the office as
employees are expected to work 12 to 14 hours a day. Then they usually eat on
the way home as it is too late to fix anything for dinner."
Q) Whether BPO culture has significantly
affected eating patterns or have we, over the years, learnt to manage?
A) "The BPO sector has significantly affected the eating pattern of our youngsters. They
go to bed late and get up late. So their breakfast is a heavy meal at 10:30 or 11 am. Then they have something light and leave to work at 2 pm. They continue to work till 2 or 4 am. So they snack through the night to stay awake. Some companies also provide pizza, burger and french fries to
keep them going through the night. Those who start their journey into the
BPO sector with 48 or 50 kilos end up with a 65 to 80 kilos by the end of two years."
Q) Chennai is known to rise early and sleep
early too, compared to other metropolitan cities, is that reflected in our eating
A) "Early to rise provides time for exercise and hence leads to an
early breakfast, followed by Lunch by 1 pm and Dinner by 8.30 pm. Tea and coffee shops are open
as early as 5 am to provide for the walkers and bikers."
Q) Instead of skipping a meal, what snacks
would you recommend office goers and those who are hard pressed for time?
A) "Never skip a meal. A snack cannot replace a meal as snacks are
small amounts of food which should be within 100 to 150 calories. So they will not have a
balance of nutrients."
pressed for time can fix a ragi porridge with a fruit. Iddlies (steamed rice
cake) get ready in a jiffy and can be taken with Idli podi which can be mixed with curd
instead of oil. Keep fruits ready which could be had immediately after the
exercise. Then freshen up and have a small breakfast and leave. Previous evening phulka's can be rolled with a healthy vegetable stuffing to make a quick
Staying slim is
not as important as staying healthy, irregular meal timings add to weight woes.
Instead, ensuring that the body gets a wholesome meal at regular intervals will
keep energy levels high and lower risk of associated diseases.
- Proceedings of the