Not eating dinner increases fat loss

What is the correct interval between meals?

One of the most common questions I get as a nutritionist is: how often should you eat? What is the correct interval between meals - especially if you want to lose weight in a healthy way?

Some say (and that's how I learned it back then) that you should definitely eat several, smaller meals throughout the day, others say that you really have to have at least 4, 5 or even more hours between meals . Got to! Because otherwise there is no fat burning.

But what's right now?

Theory 1: Burning fat needs breaks


As we know, after every meal, especially if it is high in carbohydrates, blood sugar levels rise. Then insulin is released so that the sugar can be transported into the cells. The problem with this is that as long as there is a lot of insulin in the blood, no fat is burned. This means that after a meal we have to wait until the insulin level is low enough again so that we are “burning fat” again. And the greater the distance to the next meal, the longer we burn fat. So much for the theory. This is also the argument of the “at least 4, better 5 hours between meals” advocates.

And they are fundamentally right.


This process works well - when it works well. In other words: in a healthy person who burns fat efficiently, who does not struggle with blood sugar fluctuations and whose stress reaction is balanced, it works perfectly. The only problem is that many of them do not have these prerequisites.

Because there are very many people who are not "burning fat" again about two hours after a meal - but for whom it takes much longer. And then it doesn't matter that they waited 4 hours, because for them it wasn't the right interval between meals.

Or there is another group where the blood sugar drops quite punctually after a meal, but then so rapidly that it runs past the “fat burning window” and immediately rattles into the stress reaction - and that leads to cravings for sweets. These people find it particularly difficult to keep the 4 or 5 hours that are supposedly so recommendable. The bad news: even if you got through it with all your might, you were still never burning fat, just “burning muscle”. Nothing again.

So what does that mean for you now?

  1. Yes, that has positive advantages if you make larger distances.


  1. it depends on your situation whether this is right for you.

An example: Susanne wrote to me:

"I am always hungry. But I would be happy if I could go 4 - 5 hours without food, but I can't do it. I always cook fresh and colorful and still I can't make it with my three meals a day. And my cravings for sweets bother me. "

A lot of people feel like Susanne. What's the solution here?

I like to compare diet to driving a car. You have to learn to drive a car first, because if you don't have the basics, then nothing works. Once you have your driver's license, you can keep improving and, for example, drive confidently in the big city or on snow - that would be unthinkable at first. When driving a car, a beginner is someone who still confuses the accelerator and brakes, cannot park and who sometimes dies when the engine starts. I don't need to talk to him about the ideal curve line or a braking maneuver on black ice.

Applied to nutrition, this would mean: as a “nutritional beginner” (even if you maybe already know a lot! But knowledge is not everything here) you still regularly crave sweets (or savory things), often have little energy or are constantly tired, suffering from energy lows in the afternoon or cannot get past the sweets in the evening. If this is the case for you, then the first thing to do is lay the groundwork and reduce the time between meals.

That means first of all that you have to stop your cravings for sweets (because as long as you can't get past the sugar, we don't need to talk about the rest; I have explained exactly how to stop cravings here in this webinar). First of all we have to learn “to drive straight ahead without the engine stalling”.

That would also be the first, important step for Susanne.

In my experience, this works best with several meals spread out over the day, which are put together correctly (the main thing is that you eat enough protein) (We have a structured 7-day program for this, “Sugar-free rule of thumb - in 7 days away from the greed for sugar ", which will help you exactly. It is included in the rule of thumb Premium Subscription. You can find more information here.)

When this first basis has been laid, we can look further into whether larger intervals between meals could make sense for Susanne.

With Marion it's completely different. She says:

“I have already lost 24 kg with two snacks in between, for a total of 5 meals a day. That was often too much food for me. Now I've reduced it to 3 meals - is that okay? "

A solid foundation is laid here and you can see that you can burn fat, although (or precisely because?) You eat snacks - if you do it right! And her energy remains stable, even if she takes longer breaks between meals.

The next step would probably be to see whether the other basic criteria are met: is she eating enough vegetables? Does she have enough variety in her diet? Does she have any obvious nutritional deficiencies (e.g. because she omits whole food groups?)

You can start optimizing here. She “already has the driver's license” - now the point is that she “doesn't skid on black ice” 🙂

Other important questions you sent me:

Should you skip breakfast?

From Annette:

“What to think of it, always that Omit breakfast? That should be so healthy. "


Precisely because intermittent fasting, especially at 16: 8, is so “in”, many take this as a reason for skipping breakfast. But does that make sense? Many rave about the fact that they are also good at losing weight (initially). Most of the time this only works at the beginning and that's why the questions "I'm doing 16: 8, why don't I take anything off?"

Quite simply: because it's not just about “just eating less” (why, I explain in this video) or simply having the longest possible intervals between meals. If you do not eat anything in the morning, then this is a stress signal, especially for the body of women - and it reacts to this with increased stress hormones (which, by the way, can possibly also affect fertility). These stress hormones can disrupt blood sugar (see above) and indirectly increase belly fat. In addition, it is VERY difficult to get all the nutrients the body needs into just two meals (lunch and dinner) - and in the long run, nutrient deficiencies make you tired and exhausted.

Should you skip dinner?

From Beatrice:

“I would be interested in how best to deal with that 16: 8 regulation should handle. I would like to try it out, but my daily routine is fully planned for me from 6.30 a.m. to midnight. i have two children and work shifts. It's called breakfast stimulates the metabolism, so have breakfast very early (e.g. 8:00 a.m.) and then dinner at 4:00 p.m. at the latest ... but I run out of energy by the end of work. What times do you recommend? "

There are some arguments in favor of taking a longer break from eating during the night (breakfast is not called “breakfast” in English for nothing.) It seems to be good if you let 12 hours pass between the last and the first meal - As a good guideline, you stop eating about 3 hours before you go to sleep and then eat breakfast 12 hours later. So if you go to bed at 10 p.m., the last meal would be around 7 p.m. and breakfast would not be before 7 a.m. the next day.

We at the rule of thumb team consider this to be a much better strategy (especially for women) than fasting for a full 16 hours.

The example of Beatrice shows wonderfully that 16: 8 is not a good idea for everyone. She has a very stressful daily routine and also only sleeps very briefly (less than 7 hours). That alone makes losing weight more difficult. Even if a break between the last and the first meal is good - the difficulty for Beatrice is that a) she does not consume enough nutrients in the 8 hours, that her body is supplied for 24 hours, b) that she simply does Energy runs out because after the last meal at 4 p.m. there are still another 8 hours of day "left" in which she also needs energy and c) that especially with women it looks as if they are particularly sensitive to long meal breaks and as if that would increase their stress hormones - and stress makes weight loss more difficult and indirectly promotes belly fat (and destroys muscles).

I would recommend Beatrice to safely ignore 16: 8 and rather to reduce the intervals between meals. If she goes to sleep at midnight, she shouldn't eat anything after 9 p.m. at the latest - but if she has breakfast at 8 a.m., the last meal would be 8 p.m. for a 12-hour window. Then I would make sure that she does not have too long intervals between meals (especially when shifting shifts), so that her body is adequately supplied with nutrients - the weight loss happens all by itself. I would therefore plan three larger and one or two smaller meals between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Are snacks useful or bad?

“I would be interested to know if that too Nibbling nuts interrupts the distance? Doesn't the blood sugar level then take that much longer until it is again below 100, i.e. in the fat burning process, if one is correspondingly more at mealtimes? With snacks you don't need as much food for the main meals.

Theoretically, nuts interrupt the “break”, but in practice it doesn't matter. It is often much easier and more effective to lose weight if you have snacks (at least in the beginning). Later you can find your own rhythm, but for most of them 4-5 meals a day are ideal in the long term.

Very important: that does not mean that you should “graze” all day long, that is, keep eating a little over and over again. The human body is not designed for continuous food intake (unlike a cow or a horse, for example). We should eat - and then take another break. Whether the break is 2, 4 or 5 hours is less relevant. There are even studies where participants ate 11 times a day, which was the most effective way of losing weight (and lowering their cholesterol levels).

Once I've started, I can't stop!

From Daniela:

“I often come home from work so late that I don't have lunch until three and since I'm always out in the evening, I don't find the right time to have dinner.
On the one hand, I can't manage my 3-5 meals this way, on the other hand once I've started to eat, I don't stop and so a “snack” or dessert (without which I cannot complete a meal) follows the next.
Mine too I have partly lost feeling of satiety and hunger, I often don't know whether I'm digesting or whether I'm hungry, so I often eat until I almost burst. As soon as I've eaten past full, I don't stop. "

In Daniela's case, however, the problem is that she eats lunch very late and then does not take the time in the evening to supply her body with sufficient nutrients. She probably believes (like many) that it would be better to give the body as little as possible so that it can fall back on its reserves and burn fat.

The problem with this is that not all the important nutrients that the body needs for survival are stored in the fat reserves. So every time you give the body so little that it is forced to fall back on the fat reserves, some other nutrients are also neglected - and if you do that for longer, it becomes an emergency situation for the body. And that destroyed Daniela's feeling of satiety - when there is “finally” something to eat, her body ensures that she eats as much as possible - because her meals are so irregular and rare that the body “takes precautions”.

The solution here would be to provide nutrients much earlier in the day (breakfast! Snack at lunchtime!), To reduce the interval between meals and, above all, to eat more often - and then definitely eat dinner in addition to late lunch. This would help normalize the feeling of fullness and then make it possible to lose weight.

Food cravings

From Andrea:

“I am 44 years old and have weighed too much for as long as I can remember.
In the last 20 years I have been through a lot of diets, meal plans, sports exercises, etc. Unfortunately, the dietitians often contradict each other.
It sounds "stupid" but I no longer know what really is a healthy meal or a healthy eating rhythm.
Unfortunately, I have mine so often Food cravings (due to stress, I am independent). "

There are many reasons for food cravings - stress is just one of them. The problem with this is: no matter what intervals you have planned between meals, as soon as the cravings strikes, it's all just gray theory and you can't keep your intervals. The good news: Cravings (also those caused by stress) are quite easy to stop and that is our specialty and the heart of all our courses (all our programs, recipes and menus are included in the premium subscription as a rule of thumb). Here you can also find a whole webinar just on this topic: >> Free webinar “Stop cravings”

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