Late-night snacks or after dark refrigerator raids may have worse consequences than heartburn.A recent study in mice supports the theory that I’ve espoused for sometime: when you eat affects whether the calories go to your hips or get burned off.
The study found that mice fed at irregular times – the equivalent of the middle of the night for humans, when the body wants to sleep – influences weight gain.
According to a report in Science Daily, “The study is the first causal evidence linking meal timing and increased weight gain.”
Reuters Health reports that the mice fed at irregular times, “ended up weighing 7.8 percent more than night-fed mice. This held even though the mice were fed identical amounts of food and exercised the same amount.”
“Simply modifying the time of feeding alone can greatly affect body weight,” the researchers wrote.
The finding might help people trying to lose weight, the researchers told Reuters Health.
It may be possible to simply change the timing of meals and snacks, they said. That could mean, for people, that eating more in the daytime and cutting back on the late-night snacks may help reduce weight.
“One of our research interests is shift workers, who tend to be overweight,” lead author Deanna M. Arble, a doctoral student in Turek’s lab, told Science Daily. “Their schedules force them to eat at times that conflict with their natural body rhythms. This was one piece of evidence that got us thinking – eating at the wrong time of day might be contributing to weight gain. So we started our investigation with this experiment.”
Our circadian clock, or biological timing system, governs our daily cycles of feeding, activity and sleep, with respect to external dark and light cycles.
Other studies have found the body’s internal clock also regulates energy use, suggesting the timing of meals may matter in the balance between caloric intake and expenditure.
So, like I’ve told you before (in my blog “If You Want to Get Fat, or Have Trouble Losing Weight, then Skip Breakfast“), to help maintain a normal weight, consider the Royal Diet: eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a queen, and supper like a pauper. Maybe I should add to this . . . and limit your night-time snacks to water!