We know that what and when we eat affects our metabolism. But a new study published today in the journal Cell Metabolism goes as far as suggesting that, when it comes to weight management and getting into shape, "the time of day food is eaten is more critical … than the amount of calories ingested."
While the study was conducted on mice and should therefore be taken with a grain of salt, the mice on a reduced-calorie plan that only ate according to their normal feeding cycles (during the daytime) were the only ones to lose weight, despite consuming the same number of calories as the other groups. Those who were fed the same number of calories per day but instead consumed them during their "rest period" didn't drop any weight.
"Translated into human behavior, these studies suggest that dieting will only be effective if calories are consumed during the daytime when we are awake and active," said study author Joseph S. Takahashi, PhD. "They further suggest that eating at the wrong time at night will not lead to weight loss even when dieting." They even found that late-night eating can even disrupt your sleep schedule and at worst, lead to sleep deprivation.
While we generally know not to eat past 8 or 9 p.m., it's interesting to note that even eating something low-calorie right before bed or as a midnight snack can have a negative effect on your metabolism and the way your body processes food. "These data reveal previously unknown relationships among feeding, metabolism, and behavior," writes Science Daily of the findings. "Besides affecting weight, scientists believe the timing of food consumption affects one's circadian rhythms and may be the route by which dietary habits impact lifespan."
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