July 20 (UPI) -- Researchers at Loma Linda University and the Czech Republic found that timing and frequency of meals is linked to predicting weight loss or gain.
The study, published in the July edition of the Journal of Nutrition, revealed four factors tied to a decrease in body mass index, or BMI: eating only one or two meals a day; having an overnight fast of up to 18 hours; eating breakfast instead of not; and making breakfast or lunch the largest meal of the day instead of dinner.
Researchers analyzed data from more than 50,000 participants in the Adventist Health Study-2.
The study found that two factors linked with a higher BMI were eating more than three meals a day, with snacks being counted as meals, and dinner being the largest meal of the day.
"Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper," Dr. Hana Kahleova, researcher at Loma Linda University School of Public Health, said in a press release.
Kahleova recommends eating breakfast and lunch, skipping dinner, avoiding snacks, making breakfast the largest meal of the day and fasting overnight for up to 18 hours.
The study also found an average increase in weight gain each year until participants reached 60 and then an average yearly weight loss after 60.
"Before age 60 years, those eating calories earlier in the day had less weight gain," Gary Fraser, a professor at LLU Schools of Medicine and Public Health and director of AHS-2, said. "Over decades, the total effect would be very important."