According to research, the chance of weight gain increases as you consume most of your daily calories later in the day. Adelle Davis’ renowned advice to “eat breakfast like a king, prince like a lunch, and dine like a poor” makes sense in light of this. However, no matter where you rank in the kingdom, the late-night fast food selections and midnight appetites might make you gain weight. Although you may have heard this before, new research clarifies why it occurs and how late-night eating contributes to a bigger belly. This information may cause you to change your dinner plans.
Researchers from Harvard Medical School at Brigham and Women’s Hospital discovered that late eating results in a hat trick of physiological effects that likely work together to increase the risk of obesity. This study may be one of the most thorough and controlled examinations of the impact of meal timing on weight gain. The research, which was released in Cell Metabolism in October 2022, discovered that eating late in the day as opposed to eating earlier can:
• Making it harder to control your calorie intake and meal choices.
• Reduce the calories you expend each day.
• Modify the expression of specific genes that regulate the control fat deposits
About the Study
According to the Harvard Gazette, the study evaluated 16 participants, 11 men and 5 women, who had a body mass index that was either overweight or obese. Each participant adhered to a strict sleep schedule and ate the same foods at the same mealtimes. After that, they participated in two in-lab experiments, one of which had a meal set for early in the day and the second with a meal scheduled for roughly four hours after the first. The researchers monitored the subjects’ energy expenditure, collected multiple blood samples, and noted the subjects’ hunger and appetite. To assess gene expression patterns, scientists also took fat tissue biopsies from select participants before and after the early and late meals.
According to lead researcher Nina Vujović in the Medical Chronobiology Program at Brigham and Women’s told the Harvard Gazette, “it is found that eating four hours later makes a major difference for our hunger levels, the way the calories burn after eating, and the way the fat get stores.”
A Closer Look at the Study’s Results
The latter diners reported seeking salty and starchy foods and veggies, although it should be no surprise that they were twice as hungry as the earlier eaters. Additionally, eating late impacted the body’s hunger-controlling hormones, leptin and ghrelin levels.
Ghrelin, produced in the stomach, alerts the brain when you are hungry, whereas leptin, produced in the fat cells, alerts the brain when you are full. During the 16 hours when participants were awake, researchers discovered that late eating reduced the “I’m full” hormone leptin by 16% and increased the ratio of ghrelin to leptin by 34%.
The researchers show that late feeding produced a drop in energy expenditure across the 24-hour cycle, although future studies are needed to confirm this.”
The biopsies offered a more puzzle pieces. For example, late eating alters the expression of additional genes to promote fat accumulation while downregulating numerous genes involved in the breakdown of lipids or substances like fatty acids.
When you consume more calories than you can burn in a day, your risk of weight gain and obesity increases, all of these things could potentially occur. However, the results of this study imply that earlier dinner reservations are more consistent with weight loss and that we should wash the dinner dishes several hours before bedtime.