Recently, a new study examines the impact of timing of eating in addition to the total number of calories consumed on a daily basis and found that intake of foods at specific hours may increase the risk for weight gain and lower the fat burn rate of the body.
More specifically, the researchers were interested in testing the practice of intermittent fasting, which is one of the most popular diets in the Western world currently, to see whether it actually works and timing does make a difference.
In the study, whose findings appear in the journal PLOS Biology, the researchers discovered that eating right before going to leads to a delay in burning fat by the body.
According to the authors of the new paper, the research supports the theory of the biological clock of the body. In scientific terminology, it is commonly deemed as circadian rhythms.
The theory suggests that there is an internal clock in the body that is responsible for the regulation of multiple procedures including hormone levels, sleep cycles, and diet.
Previously, a number of studies have shown that any kind of disturbance in the circadian rhythms can contribute to the development of health issues in the future.
Some people are likely to have more disturbed cycles and are at a higher risk of specific health conditions including obesity than others. For instance, shift workers who have to work at different timings per day often have disturbed sleep cycles.
In addition, a less focused factor in the majority of the medical literature is the eating pattern of the person. Consuming foods at a different time each day can also have a negative impact on the functioning of the body.
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The senior author of the study, Prof. Carl Johnson, who is also a Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Biological Sciences, explains in the words “There are a lot of studies on both animals and humans that suggest it’s not only about how much you eat but rather when you eat,”
In order to test the theory of biological clock and eating patterns, the researchers recruited six participants. All six of the participants were over the age of fifty and thus were at a higher risk of developing health conditions such as metabolic disorders.
The participants were required to have different timings for eating with three meals per day over two separate fifty-six hours sessions. Both of the sessions included fasting during the night time.
In the first session, the participants were provided with three meals at the usual timings per day and no late-night snacks were involved. They had breakfast, lunch, and dinner subsequently.
The second session did not have breakfast and the meal timings were different. The participants were also given a late-night or evening snack.
The breakfast in the first session and the extra meal in the second session both contained seven hundred calories with the same nutritional content. However, the timings varied where the snack was given at 10 p.m. while breakfast was given at 8 a.m.
During both of the sessions, the physical activity and exercise levels of the participants were also the same. The researchers in both sessions used Vanderbilt’s human metabolic chamber in order to measure the metabolism of the participants.
It was then discovered that the timing of the meals made a difference even when the caloric intake and physical activity were maintained. More specifically, the timing affected the fat burn in the participants.
Whenever the participants consumed food late at night or right before going to bed, they burnt less fat than those who had breakfast and no late-night food. These findings show the importance of meal timings as well as how fasting overnight may be better than fasting during day time.