A healthy, balanced diet and ample exercise are the key components of weight loss, but minor aspects, such as when you eat and how much you consume, may also contribute some added benefit. While no scientific evidence exists to prove that eating a big breakfast and a light dinner is objectively more beneficial than other options, this regimen may help keep you from indulging late at night, and it may provide extra energy to fuel your workouts. Even if it doesn't contribute extra benefit, though, you can certainly lose weight with this meal structure as long as you consume fewer calories than you burn.
Perform moderately intense aerobic exercise, such as jogging or biking, for at least 150 minutes per week. Perform strength training, such as weightlifting or yoga, for at least one hour per week.
Calculate how many calories you burn with exercise, either by using the calorie counter on your exercise machine or using an online calculator such as LIVESTRONG.com's MyPlate.
Calculate how many calories you burn on average in a day, or your basal metabolic rate. You can use an online calculator, or you can use this formula:
Women: BMR = 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) - (4.7 x age in years)
Men: BMR = 66 + (6.23 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) - (6.8 x age in year)
Add the calories burned with exercise to your basal metabolic rate. Subtract 500 or 1,000 to get the number of calories you can consume in a day in order to lose 1 or 2 pounds of fat per week, which is a healthy rate of weight loss. A pound of fat is 3,500 calories, so you need to burn an excess of 500 to 1,000 calories per day.
Divide the number of calories you can consume into fourths. Have about half of your calories in the morning for breakfast, and divide the remaining calories among lunch, dinner and snacks.
Consume lean protein, whole grains and fresh vegetables and fruits at each meal. According to USDA guidelines, half of your plate should be fruits and vegetables. For your big breakfast, opt for scrambled egg whites, fresh fruits and whole-grain toast or oatmeal. For dinner, have a light salad with grilled chicken, whole-grain pasta with vegetables or a lean-turkey sandwich on whole-grain bread.
Eat plenty of fiber, which helps you feel full and keeps your insulin levels low. Insulin tells the body to hold on to stored fat, so foods that keep insulin levels low allow your body to burn fat better.
Drink plenty of water and skim milk instead of juice and soda. Even being slightly dehydrated can lower your metabolism, and water can help you feel full without adding empty calories.
- USDA: MyPlate Home
- American Heart Association; Losing Weight; June 2011
- CNN; Can Drinking Lots of Water Help You Lose Weight?; Dr. Melina Jampolis; April 2010
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?; March 2011
- Go Ask Alice; Eating at Night = Weight Gain: Myth or fact?; Sept. 6, 2002
- MayoClinic.com; Dietary Fiber: Essential For A Healthy Diet; Nov. 19, 2009
- MayoClinic.com; Breakfast: How Does It Help Weight Control?; Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.; Jul. 23, 2011