When you consume less energy than you expend, your body taps into that stored fat.

London - All slimmers want to maximise their potential weight loss by eating the right foods and avoiding the wrong ones.

According to research, however, the key to success lies in the timing of meals.

A survey has pinpointed the best times to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner if you want to shed as many pounds as possible.

The optimum time to have breakfast is shortly after 7am, with 7.11am picked as ideal. Lunch is best enjoyed earlier rather than later with the key time between 12.30pm and 1pm – 12.38pm being spot on.

Leaving dinner later than 7pm can be ruinous for diets – the recommended time is between 6pm and 6.30pm, with 6.14pm the best. The timings came from a survey of 1 000 slimmers, 84 percent of whom said sticking to regular meal times was crucial in losing weight.

A further 76 percent said breakfast was the most important meal of the day – and eating it daily had helped them cut calories. The same number also said they had benefited by having a light lunch and never skipping a midday meal.

Dinner must be eaten early to maximise weight loss because we are less active in the evening and extra calories are more likely to turn to fat. Two-thirds of slimmers recommended eating dinner before 7pm. Most dieters said the key was an even calorie intake throughout the day.

The research, for diet company Forza Supplements, supports the dieting mantra: Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like pauper.

The findings showed that the four hours between 6pm and 10pm was when most diets go wrong. What scuppered many slimming regimes was snacking past 8pm – a lapse suffered by 62 percent of those polled.

Lee Smith, of Forza Supplements, said: “The results show that breakfast really is the most important meal of the day for successful dieters. Skipping it just makes you hungrier and more likely to over-indulge in later meals.” - Daily Mail