When, how much and what foods are eaten are related to total daily food intake

Br J Nutr. 2009 Oct;102(8):1228-37. doi: 10.1017/S0007114509371640. Epub 2009 Aug 4.


Intake in the morning is associated with a reduction in the total intake for the day, while intake at night is associated with greater overall daily intake. These associations are macronutrient specific, with morning carbohydrate intake associated with reduced daily carbohydrate intake, morning fat intake associated with reduced daily fat intake and morning protein intake associated with reduced daily protein intake. Since different types of foods contain differing proportions of macronutrients, the present study investigated the associations of different types of foods ingested at various times of day with total daily and macronutrient intakes. The intakes of 388 male and 621 female free-living individuals reported in 7 d diet diaries were reanalysed. The intakes of twenty-four different types of foods and seven different drinks occurring during the morning (04.00-10.29 hours), afternoon (10.30-16.59 hours) and evening (17.00-02.00 hours) were identified and related to overall daily intakes. Dairy foods, ice cream, beef, other meats, potatoes, pastry, nuts, chips and snacks, condiments, alcohol and soda were significantly associated with higher total intake over the day, while fruit, soup, breakfast cereal, pasta, pizza, water, coffee/tea and diet soda were either not associated or were associated with lower overall intake. Dietary energy density appeared to mediate the associations between particular foods and beverages and overall energy intake. This suggests that eating low-density foods in the morning and avoiding high-density foods at night might aid in reducing overall intake and may be useful in dietary interventions for overweight and obesity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Diet Records
  • Drinking / physiology
  • Eating / physiology
  • Energy Intake / physiology
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male