Why you just can't resist that afternoon doughnut: The reason it gets harder to stick to your diet as the day drags on
22:27 GMT, 22 June 2012
22:27 GMT, 22 June 2012
Everyone knows about the three-o'clock afternoon slump, that time of day when all your good eating intentions completely disappear.
In fact, according to a new study, by the time you get to dinner, the foods you consume are nearly 16per cent less healthy than what you ate for breakfast.
Massive Health tracked the eating habits of thousands of people over five months and found for every hour that passes during the day, the healthiness of the foods you eat drops by 1.7per cent.
Weighing up: According to Massive Health, for every hour that passes during the day, the healthiness of the foods people eat drops by 1.7per cent
The study, which used an app that lets users send in photos of their meals, found most of us hit the wall in the afternoon during daily race to eat well.
According to the data, this is most likely caused by the hunger hormone ghrelin, which can build up quickly when you skip meals, eat too little, or exercise without eating.
Manuel Villacorta, a registered dietitian and author of Eating Free told Today: 'Ghrelin makes your hunger spin out of control, and you'll reach for anything you can get your hands on.'
The good news is that you can stop this eating pattern in its tracks.
The study found that people who skip breakfast eat significantly more food throughout the day, a fact confirmed by years of research.
However this is also the case doe people who eat high-carbohydrates with too much refined sugar for breakfast, such as cereal and bagels.
Susan Bowerman, dietitian and assistant director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition. said: 'Be sure your a.m. meal includes plenty of protein.
'Your hunger spins out of control, and you'll reach for anything you can get your hands on'
'Many women don't eat enough hunger-quelling protein for breakfast and end up reaching for junky treats before lunch. Eggs, Greek yogurt, and cottage cheese are all good sources of breakfast protein.'
She also implores people to eat vegetables for lunch, while keeping up the protein.
She said: 'Vegetables are healthy, filling, and low-cal. Lunch selections like stir-fry with tofu, or a salad with beans and hard-boiled eggs are a great way to mix protein with plenty of vegetables.'
Ms Bowerman also suggests keeping plenty of healthy snacks at arms reach to bridge the dangerous gap between meals, especially the long, perilous afternoon stretch between lunch and dinner.
She suggests packing half a sandwich and fruit, a protein shake, or a bowl of lentil soup for an afternoon snack.
'You won't be starving at dinner time, and you can keep the last meal of the day light,' she said.