When you eat may be just as important as what you eat, according to two new studies in the delightfully-named field of research known as chrono-nutrition. Julian Huguet digs in with today's DNews report.
In a review of research concerning meal patterns and health, the studies concluded that eating irregularly -- those midnight fridge raids, for instance -- can lead to obesity, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. In other words, eating food in the middle of the night is not good for you. This has been the conventional wisdom for years, but the new research puts some hard numbers to the conjecture.
It's a potentially significant problem, these days, in that social rhythms and eating rhythms are becoming radically out of sync. With increasingly busy lifestyles, people tend to skip meals, eat late at night and otherwise "graze" at different times of the day. Because the body handles calories in different ways depending on the time, things can go haywire.
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For instance, A 2013 study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that dieters who ate large meals later in the day lost less weight than those who ate earlier -- even when exercise and caloric intake were the same. Other studies have found evidence that food eaten at night is more likely to be converted to fat than burned as energy.
It all has to do with our circadian rhythm, the 24-hour metabolic cycle that we typically associate with sleeping and waking. For several million years of evolution, we didn't have food available 24 hour a day. The body developed ways of storing energy that didn't take into account the possibility of leftover Thai food at 3 a.m.
For more on circadian rhythms, healthy lifestyles and the curious specimen known as the morning person, check out our additional coverage on metabolism issues.
-- Glenn McDonald
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