Eating late is dangerous as it imbalances fat burning and metabolic hormones, leading to weight gain and heart disease.
Having a large meal for breakfast that is rich in protein and carbs is linked to weight loss, research finds.
Indeed, studies suggest that it may quadruple weight loss in the long-term.
Now a study has shown that eating more calories later has many metabolic consequences, such as preventing fat loss, increasing triglycerides and low-density lipoproteins (LDL) cholesterol, which are biomarkers of cardiovascular disease risk.
Eating later also negatively effects the hormone ghrelin, which is responsible for feelings of hunger and the satiety hormone leptin, which is responsible for feeling full or satiated after eating.
Moreover, it elevates the hormone insulin and so blood glucose levels, which can lead to weight gain and diabetes.
Dr Namni Goel, the study’s lead author, said:
“Eating later can promote a negative profile of weight, energy, and hormone markers — such as higher glucose and insulin, which are implicated in diabetes, and cholesterol and triglycerides, which are linked with cardiovascular problems and other health conditions.
We know from our sleep loss studies that when you’re sleep deprived, it negatively affects weight and metabolism in part due to late-night eating, but now these early findings, which control for sleep, give a more comprehensive picture of the benefits of eating earlier in the day.”
The study compared the effect of delayed eating on human health with eating earlier.
For the study, participants of healthy weight first ate earlier for 8 weeks then later for a further 8 weeks.
Eating earlier consisted of three meals plus two snacks between 8 am and 7 pm.
The later eating condition consisted of three meals plus two snacks starting from noon and finishing at 11 pm.
During this time they were allowed to sleep between 11 pm to 9 am.
The research team found that compared to eating earlier, the delayed eating led to weight gain.
There were other negative indicators including high insulin, glucose, triglyceride and cholesterol levels, which suggested a poor metabolism.
Eating early helped participants to feel full for longer and so stopped overeating during the evenings.
Kelly Allison, study co-author, said:
“While lifestyle change is never easy, these findings suggest that eating earlier in the day may be worth the effort to help prevent these detrimental chronic health effects.
We have an extensive knowledge of how overeating affects health and body weight, but now we have a better understanding of how our body processes foods at different times of day over a long period of time.”
Another study by Dr Goel and colleagues suggested that eating less at night reduces the mental problems caused by lack of sleep.
About the author
Mina Dean is a Nutritionist and Food Scientist. She holds a BSc in Human Nutrition and an MSc in Food Science.
The study was presented at SLEEP 2017, the 31st Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC.