If you’ve ever attempted to lose weight, even just five pounds, then you’ve probably followed some sort of dieting advice. Not eating past 8 p.m. is one of the most common tips, with advocates like Oprah WInfrey saying it has been key to her weight loss success. This tip has been greatly debated over the years, but now experts are saying that the timing of your meals could actually help you lose weight.

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A study by Courtney Peterson, assistant professor of nutrition at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, showed that people who finished eating by early afternoon burned more fat and had fewer bouts of hunger. Peterson explained to the Today show that this is because our body’s internal clock performs certain functions better at specific times of day.

“We know your best blood sugar control is in the morning,” Peterson said on the show. “We also know that when you eat food, the energy it takes to digest it is a little higher in the morning.”

The professor believes it’s best to finish your meals earlier in the day to have more consistent hunger levels and burn more fat.

Nutritionist Tamara Duker Freuman doesn’t necessarily believe it’s bad to eat after a certain time, however, the expert does advise front-loading calories, so you eat the majority of your daily allowance during breakfast and lunch. The healthy-eating expert says that a cup of yogurt at breakfast followed by the lunchtime salad is the cause of that 10 p.m. cookie and chip fest.

"I started noticing a common pattern where my patients were so good with restricting their calories during the day, but in the late afternoon and evening, they fell apart," nutritionist Tamara Duker Freuman, told CNN. She advocates following a diet that syncs to your circadian rhythms, which essentially means eating specific foods at certain times of the day for optimal health and weight loss.

"It was the ongoing grazing into the night. ... That's what kept undermining them. They often thought they were binge eaters ... but in reality, they were just really hungry,” Freuman said in the article. "If they just ate a little more at breakfast and lunch, if they just added a few hundred extra calories in the morning, they would get their eating under control and lose weight."

When you eat lunch could be as important as what you eat, according to a study from 2013.

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Researchers followed 420 dieters for 20 weeks to determine whether eating a late or early lunch impacted weight loss. They found that people who ate later in the afternoon lost weight more slowly, despite eating roughly the same amount of calories. These late eaters also were night owls who typically skipped breakfast or started their days with less nutritious meals.

Of course, no amount of scheduling can make up for a poor diet to begin with. Losing weight will always come down to calories in versus calories out.

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