We all know you should avoid the late night snacks, but this study suggests that-- for mice anyway-- the timing of meals matters.
A new study in mice suggests that it’s not just how much you eat, but when you eat it, that influences weight gain.
Researchers at Northwestern University wanted to test whether the timing of meals could influence body weight. Many diet books advise would-be weight losers to stop eating after 6 or 7 p.m. However, it’s never been clear if the strategy works as a behavioral change — we tend to overeat in the evenings in front of the television and the computer. Or is there some physiological reason late-night eating adds extra pounds?...
Turns out that mice who were fed when they would normally be sleeping gained a lot more weight than mice who were the same number of calories when they were usually awake.
Fred Turek, director of the Center for Sleep and Circadian Biology at Northwestern and the study’s senior author, said human studies are needed to determine if timing of food intake influences body weight. The findings would be particularly important for shift workers, who are known to be at higher risk for obesity, diabetes and other health problems. But he notes that it’s not just shift workers who are eating late. Most people eat a large percentage of their calories in the evening and continue eating late into the night.
Dr. Turek notes that humans evolved from a situation where they ate and foraged between sunrise and sunset. “After sunset, there were no refrigerators, no food just hanging around,” he said. “You didn’t eat. But today, people eat most of their calories after sunset.”