Timing of Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner. Effects on Obesity and Metabolic Risk

Nutrients. 2019 Nov 1;11(11):2624. doi: 10.3390/nu11112624.


(1) Background: Eating is fundamental to survival. Animals choose when to eat depending on food availability. The timing of eating can synchronize different organs and tissues that are related to food digestion, absorption, or metabolism, such as the stomach, gut, liver, pancreas, or adipose tissue. Studies performed in experimental animal models suggest that food intake is a major external synchronizer of peripheral clocks. Therefore, the timing of eating may be decisive in fat accumulation and mobilization and affect the effectiveness of weight loss treatments. (2) Results: We will review multiple studies about the timing of the three main meals of the day, breakfast, lunch and dinner, and its potential impact on metabolism, glucose tolerance, and obesity-related factors. We will also delve into several mechanisms that may be implicated in the obesogenic effect of eating late. Conclusion: Unusual eating time can produce a disruption in the circadian system that might lead to unhealthy consequences.

Keywords: circadian rhythms; food timing; melatonin; nutrigenetic; obesity; weight loss.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Breakfast*
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Glucose Intolerance* / etiology
  • Glucose Intolerance* / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Lunch*
  • Male
  • Meals*
  • Melatonin / metabolism
  • Obesity* / etiology
  • Obesity* / prevention & control
  • Weight Loss


  • Blood Glucose
  • Melatonin