How do you split your calories over the day?

Just curious. We all know the saying 'breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper', but what works for you in practice?

I've found my habits have totally changed over the two months I've been on this journey so far. I wouldn't say I breakfast like a king (or a queen!), but I do now always have breakfast, and it represents up to 33% of my calories for the day. It wasn't a conscious decision, but after gradually tweaking with my mealtimes/calories, I find it helps me manage my appetite and energy over the day better than when I used to only have black coffee and not eat anything.

I've also stopped saving calories for snacks and instead just added those calories to my three main meals.

I definitely split my calories over the day very differently to when I was just gaining weight. Back then, it was the opposite to the saying - I skipped breakfast, had lunch like a prince, and dinner like a king. The bulk of my calories definitely went on dinner, and I guess probably because I was so hungry by that point, I made some really bad choices.

So, what do you do?
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Replies

  • Dailly13
    Dailly13 Posts: 190 Member
    My breakfast, lunch and dinner pretty much the same calories. I tend not to eat after 7pm. Seems to work for me.
  • Jackie9003
    Jackie9003 Posts: 1,058 Member
    I try to be consistent and tend to have the same foods daily, When I’m on maintenance I want to build upon an easy eating plan without any big changes. I’m on 1470 and split it like this:

    Breakfast 300cals, invariably fruit and yoghurt or cereal and milk
    Lunch 400 cals, and either soup and roll or sandwich and crisps
    Dinner 670 cals, whatever I fancy
    Evening 100 cals could be a glass of wine, double vodka and diet mixer or a sweet snack
  • FibroHiker
    FibroHiker Posts: 344 Member
    I don't measure my calorie intake by meal and try to keep it the same each day. I go for daily total only.

    My breakfast tends to be lower because I want to leave as much room as possible for the rest of the day. I don't know if the day will be light and I won't need many snacks or if I will be very hungry mid afternoon. Keeping options open helps me to know I have leeway if need be.
  • sardelsa
    sardelsa Posts: 9,826 Member
    I usually do about 1200 calories up until dinner (breakfast, snack, lunch, snack) then about 1500-1800 between dinner and dessert.
  • RelCanonical
    RelCanonical Posts: 3,883 Member
    I prefer to go to bed with food in my stomach, otherwise I can't sleep. I only eat in the morning if I'm hungry. I'll usually have a small lunch at 11am and multiple snacks throughout the day. I usually split dinner into two portions, one at around 6pm and one at around 8pm, and then I'll have a snack of some sort right before bed at around 10:30pm.
  • Shortgirlrunning
    Shortgirlrunning Posts: 1,022 Member
    Just a cup of coffee in the morning, lunch around noon, dinner at 5ish. Dinner is usually my biggest meal.
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 25,789 Member
    Varies. Most common: 3 reasonably even meals, dinner maybe a little more (may be a small snack or two, or none). Lately, pretty common to either eat a very light lunch (half the calories of breakfast/dinner or less) or to have lunch and dinner pretty close to blend into each other, clock-time-wise.

    Back in the before-times (pre-coronavirus), light breakfast before AM workout, then bigger lunch/dinner, was a common pattern, too.

    None of that made any difference to weight management, over almost 5 years of calorie counting so far. It was all about timing things pleasantly around wake/sleep/workouts/etc., or pure preference.
  • swirlybee
    swirlybee Posts: 497 Member
    I usually don't eat breakfast. Lunch is about 40% of my calories and the remaining 60% is at dinner.
  • Hanibanani2020
    Hanibanani2020 Posts: 523 Member
    Depends on my workout schedule but never after seven as I hate sleeping with food in my stomach
  • corinasue1143
    corinasue1143 Posts: 6,895 Member
    It took some experimenting to figure out what’s easiest for me, but ended up with uSually a light breakfast, medium lunch, heaviest meal at 4 pm, light meal (or big snack) Around 8 pm. But it varies a lot. No rules, just habits.
  • GummiMundi
    GummiMundi Posts: 396 Member
    Just curious. We all know the saying 'breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper', but what works for you in practice?

    I've found my habits have totally changed over the two months I've been on this journey so far. I wouldn't say I breakfast like a king (or a queen!), but I do now always have breakfast, and it represents up to 33% of my calories for the day. It wasn't a conscious decision, but after gradually tweaking with my mealtimes/calories, I find it helps me manage my appetite and energy over the day better than when I used to only have black coffee and not eat anything.

    I've also stopped saving calories for snacks and instead just added those calories to my three main meals.

    I definitely split my calories over the day very differently to when I was just gaining weight. Back then, it was the opposite to the saying - I skipped breakfast, had lunch like a prince, and dinner like a king. The bulk of my calories definitely went on dinner, and I guess probably because I was so hungry by that point, I made some really bad choices.

    So, what do you do?

    Usually I skip breakfast (I'm just not hungry in the morning), then my calories are roughly divided as follows:
    - 15-20% lunch
    - 10-15% afternoon snack
    - 65-75% dinner

    I'll also add that I've been using MFP for almost two years, and losing weight gradually and consistently.

    Timing and breakdown of calories throughout the day are simply a matter of personal preference, needs, and adherence. Provided you're on your indicated caloric deficit, that's all that matters for weight loss.

    I agree with you that probably the reason why you were gaining weight with your previous habits was because you were eating more than you needed at night due to being too hungry. You have different preferences and needs compared to mine, and that's why one way works better for you, and another way works better for me.

    Good luck! :)
  • Ariennalee
    Ariennalee Posts: 7 Member
    Pre-pandemic, I generally skipped breakfast and ate a mid morning snack then I ate a large lunch with an aim to have my major meal digested before I got to roller derby practice. Derby was two hours of exercise and afterward the goal was a small meal. More often than not, I went home from derby and ate EVERYTHING. xD

    Since the pandemic when I'm working from home everything has gone off the rails. Time has no meaning and there are no meals. I've been logging calories just to make sure things don't get out of hand but in general I've been just... eating parts of a meal whenever. So I might get up and eat an apple then an hour later have a potato. And a couple hours after that, bake a chicken breast. It's oddly satisfying.
  • Buttermello
    Buttermello Posts: 127 Member
    I dont eat any earlier than about 8 hours after I wake up, and i eat about 50% of my daily calories between 1 and 3 hours before bed.
  • thelastnightingale
    thelastnightingale Posts: 711 Member
    GummiMundi wrote: »
    I agree with you that probably the reason why you were gaining weight with your previous habits was because you were eating more than you needed at night due to being too hungry. You have different preferences and needs compared to mine, and that's why one way works better for you, and another way works better for me.

    I didn't really have much of a choice with the stressful job, long hours and long commute. Now that I'm at home and able to largely stop for breaks whenever I want to, I thought it was interesting how the timing of my food has naturally completely shifted. I'm starting to question if I really wasn't hungry at breakfast time previously, or just too harassed/busy to stop and eat.

    It's really interesting hearing how other people split their days - I also believe in 'calories in, calories out' for weight loss, but I think the way you split your calories has as impact on your energy levels and therefore to an extent, the choices you make and how likely you are to stick to your numbers. I'm still refining the detail, but I was really surprised by how my body has started to insist on a morning meal, when previously it was content to skip it. (Well, maybe it wasn't, and I've only just started listening!)
  • scarlett_k
    scarlett_k Posts: 810 Member
    I tend to have a light breakfast, a bigger lunch and my dinner is my main meal of the day. Sometimes lunch and dinner are roughly equal calorically but usually dinner is more.
  • MidlifeCrisisFitness
    MidlifeCrisisFitness Posts: 1,113 Member
    Guess it depends on what you're trying to do. I need to recover in the morning. 25 to 30% calories for breakfast and then another 25 to 30% for lunch. It makes dinner a bit smaller but no problem. I'm also concerned about what kind of calories are eaten when....
  • sgt1372
    sgt1372 Posts: 3,973 Member
    I don't "allocate" cals/meal. I just keep count as I go which allows me the greatest freedom to just eat whatever I want during the day.

    I maintain on about 1800 cals/day and don't usually have anything for breakfast, just black coffee (5 cals). My largest meal of the day tends to be lunch and I eat whatever's left in cals at dinner.

    One "trick" that I use to avoid overeating is to set my cal goal at only 1500. So, when I hit 1500 all the extra food cals logged after that come up in the red and warns me to avoid eating too much more.

    Another "trick" I use is to overcount or round up the cals consumed rather than use the "exact" amount of food weighed or measured, so that I'm actually eating fewer cals than those logged.

    This usually works to keep me under 1800 but when it doesn't I just make up for it the following day. Been maintaining my wt at 155 +/- 5# doing this for the past 4 yrs.
  • Marisela170
    Marisela170 Posts: 48 Member
    I tend to get super hungry later in the day. So I do about 50% for dinner, 20% for breakfast, 20% for lunch and then 10% for snacks.
  • Noreenmarie1234
    Noreenmarie1234 Posts: 7,319 Member
    Up until 8pm: 300-400 calories
    8pm-3am: 2000-2500 calories depending on activity level