How to Eat All Day to Lose Weight

By: Jessica Migala  |  September/October 2016
What Does a Clean-Eating Day Look Like?
A healthy diet does your body good, but it's not just what you eat that counts—it's when you eat it too. Follow these by-the-clock rules to stave off hunger all day and eat less—naturally.
7 a.m. Eat Protein at Breakfast
Americans eat nearly ­triple the protein at dinner than at breakfast. But those who divvied it up among all three meals (30 grams per meal) boasted a 25 percent higher rate of muscle synthesis (which helps you maintain lean muscle mass and a healthy metabolism) versus those who loaded up at dinner, according to a study in The Journal of Nutrition. Three eggs and 1/2 cup of cottage cheese will get you to 30 grams.
Check out recipes for protein-packed breakfasts like the Spinach & Cheese Breakfast Skillet (pictured above).
10:30 a.m. Snack on Almonds
Quiet pesky mid-morning stomach rumbles with almonds. Almonds make a great mid-morning snack since they may not increase your overall daily calories, according to research published in the European Journal of Nutrition. When people ate 1 1/2 ounces of almonds (about 35 almonds, for about 250 calories) as a morning bite for four weeks, they naturally cut out 250 calories from the rest of their day—without even trying to. Plus, almonds bring a punch of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and vitamin E.
Related: 4 Cardinal Rules for Healthy Snacking
11:30 a.m. Pre-Order Lunch
You know you'll be ready to eat at noon, so if you didn't pack a lunch, put in your order before you pick it up. Deciding what to eat ahead of time with the benefit of seeing the nutrition info online (versus making an of-the-moment decision) can help you save 115 calories, per research in the journal Appetite.
If you brown-bag it, check out these cheap, healthy lunch ideas for work.
3 p.m. Snack on Yogurt
When the afternoon munchies come calling, resist vending-machine snacks and BYO yogurt instead. An afternoon yogurt snack helped people hold off hunger longer (versus crackers or chocolate) so they ate 100 fewer calories at dinner, reports a study in Nutrition Journal. Go for Greek versions: the higher protein content is key to keeping hunger at bay.
Here's how to buy the healthiest yogurt.
4 p.m. Skip Coffee in the Afternoon
The coffee jolt isn't the best way to beat the afternoon slump. Sipping joe this late in the day can cost you an hour of sleep, reports a study from the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. (And lost sleep can make you ravenous tomorrow.) Cut yourself off at least six hours before you plan to hit the hay. For a caffeine-free boost, head outside for a short walk.
Check out this 7-Day Plan to Eat for More Energy.
6 p.m. Enjoy Family Dinner
Sit down at the table—not the couch—for dinner. Rather than zoning out in front of the TV, eating without distractions is associated with a healthier BMI for both kiddos and adults (and strengthens your family bond), says Cornell University research. And chat it up. Talking about your day is also linked to a healthy weight, found the same study.
Let these quick and easy dinner recipes help you get dinner on the table in a snap.
10 p.m. Go to Sleep
Go to bed at a reasonable time. People who clocked a mere four hours of sleep gobbled 130 extra calories compared to adults who got closer to the recommended 8 hours, found research in the journal SLEEP. Night owls also tend to eat a greater proportion of their daily calories after 11 p.m. and usually go for sweet, salty and fatty foods at night.
For help drifting off to dreamland, check out these 9 foods to help you sleep.