Home 2020 It is Not What We Eat, But When We Eat

It is Not What We Eat, But When We Eat


It is Key to not only pay attention to what we eat, but when we eat. Over the years experts have made many dietary recommendations, including eating 3 full meals a day, grazing throughout the day, eating a high-protein snack at night and following a low-fat diet.

Despite their recommendations, the number of overweight and obese individuals continues to climb.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) the number of people who are obese nearly 3X’d from Ys 1975 to 2016. In Y 2016, 39% of people 18 years and older were overweight. And, in Y 2018 this health hazard affected 40-M children under the age of 5.

Obesity Action reports there are 93-M Americans who are obese, which increases their risk for problems with mobility and a higher rate of death. Of the 22 industrialized countries worldwide, the US has the highest number of citizens who are obese.

This condition leads to high blood pressure, insulin resistance and high cholesterol and triglycerides. As BMI (body mass index) rises so does the potential for developing Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. There are an estimated 751.4-M people worldwide who are obese.

Researchers from Vanderbilt University were interested in determining whether the timing of meals has a bearing on how efficiently energy is burned. They tested the hypothesis that a circadian rhythm regulated how food would be metabolized during the day as compared to the night.

To measure this, middle-aged and older participants stayed in a respiratory chamber in 2 separate 56-hr interventional sessions. During each session they were offered 3 daily meals. In 1 session they were given breakfast, lunch and dinner and in the other they were given lunch, dinner and a late-night snack.

During each session the participants received the same amount of food and used the same amount of energy.

At night, their respiratory exchange rates were measured. This revealed a difference related to the timing of meals without any relationship to physical activity or core body temperature.

It appeared that the timing of their meals had an influence on LO (lipid oxidation).

Those eating a late evening snack experienced lower fat burning during the night as opposed to those who ate breakfast without a late-night snack. The amount of time the participants fasted between the last meal of the day and the 1st meal the next day was the same for both sessions.

The researchers concluded the following: “The timing of meals during the day/night cycle therefore affects the extent to which ingested food is used versus stored. This study has important implications for eating habits, suggesting that a daily fast between the evening meal and breakfast will optimize weight management.”

This means that despite the number of calories eaten and calories burned being the same in both groups, those who ate at night would theoretically gain more weight than those who ate breakfast.

There are several factors that contribute to weight loss, such as sleep habits, the gut microbiome, what we eat and when we eat. People might think that if they are able to stay lean then they are healthy, but weight loss alone is not a path to optimal health.

The takeaway, eat breakfast and avoid late night snacks, here are some related stories:

When I Think About a Healthy Diet I Include Bacon

Study: Eating Eggs do Not Increase Risk of Heart Disease

This is TRE, aka Time Restricted Eating

Mindful Eating a Key to Weight Loss

The Whys of Eating Organic Real Foods

Eat healthy, Be healthy, Live lively

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