Distribution of energy intake across the day and weight loss: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Isabel Young* (Corresponding Author), Amudha Poobalan, Kate Steinbeck, Helen O'Connor, Helen Parker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)


Consuming a greater proportion of total energy intake earlier in the day rather than in the evening is proposed to positively influence weight loss and health, potentially due to greater synchronisation of human body circadian rhythms. This systematic review provides an update on existing evidence
regarding earlier distributed eating patterns in weight loss interventions. Using a robust search strategy in five electronic databases, nine randomised controlled trials investigating the impact of energy intake distribution on weight loss were identified. Following critical appraisal, a random effects meta-analyses found that, in the context of an energy-reduced diet, distributing energy
intake with a focus on earlier intake resulted in significantly greater weight loss (-1.23kg; 95%CI - 2.40, -0.06, p=0.04). Improvements in HOMA-IR, fasting glucose, and LDL cholesterol were also seen.
The current study provides a timely update on the evidence linking distribution of total daily energy intake and health, showing that a focus on earlier intakes can result in greater short-term weight loss compared to later intakes. Future studies are needed to elucidate the impact that earlier intakes
may have on weight management and metabolic health.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13537
Number of pages14
JournalObesity Reviews
Issue number3
Early online date18 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

The authors would like to thank Ms Kanchana Ekanayake (Health Sciences Library, The University of Sydney) for her invaluable assistance with the literature searches.
Article Funding
Open access publishing facilitated by The University of Sydney, as part of the Wiley - The University of Sydney agreement via the Council of Australian University Librarians.


  • chrononutrion
  • weight loss
  • energy distribution
  • obesity
  • meal timing


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