(WEAU)--We've all heard the saying you are what you eat but have you thought about when you eat? A new study suggests that if you are trying to lose weight the time of day you eat may affect your results.
Harvard researchers studied a group of people enrolled in a weight loss program in Spain. Although everyone ate the same number of calories, those who had lunch before 3:00pm lost an average of 22 pounds, while those who late lunches only lost 17 pounds.
"It really just goes back to total calories in total calories out," said Mayo Clinic Health System dietician Diane Dressel.
Dressel says our bodies run on energy and food is our fuel. So when people skip a meal or eat later than they normally do, they tend to over eat.
"If you eat lunch late at 3 instead of at the noon hour because you worked through it, what were you grazing on up until 3:00? Maybe you already exceeded the calories and of course you still will eat lunch," said Dressel.
The new Harvard research shows that the body may also process glucose or sugar differently throughout the day and that could affect the function of liver and fat cells. But experts all agree more research is needed.
"This is a first time study and those are the ones you have to take with a grain a salt," said Dressel.
She says timing is only a small piece of a person's diet.
For example she says when people snack they usually go for convenient things, which normally aren’t the healthy options.
So Dressel says before focusing too much on the clock, she recommends eating a well-balanced diet and exercise.