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Eating Later In The Day Directly Impacts Your Biological Weight Regulation

A new study suggests eating later in the day can directly impact your biological weight regulation in three key ways:

  • through the number of calories that you burn (impaired weight loss success)

  • your hunger levels; and

  • the way your body store fat (increased body fat).

Study Highlights

The below listed combined changes may increase obesity risk upon late eating:

  • Late eating increases wake-time hunger

  • Late eating decreases wake-time energy expenditure

  • Late eating decreases 24-h serum leptin

  • Late eating decreases 24-h core body temperature

  • Late eating alters adipose tissue gene expression, favoring increased lipid storage

Earlier studies already identified a direct link between the timing of meals and weight gain: "Prolonged, controlled daytime versus delayed eating Impacts weight and metabolism. " This new research study -published in Cell Metabolism- looks closely into the biological risk of becoming obese due to late eating times. Study finds out that the risk of becoming obese could be lowered in a relatively simple way – just by eating your meals a few hours earlier.

The research involved 16 participants in the overweight range. Their sleep and eating times were tightly controlled. Each participant went through two different 6-day experiments with several weeks between each experiment.

  • In one experiment, the participants kept to a strict schedule of three meals a day – breakfast at 9 am, lunch at 1 pm and dinner around 6 pm.

  • In the other experiment, the three meals were delayed – breakfast at 1 pm, lunch at 5 pm and dinner around 9 pm.

The research team observed that when eating later, levels of the hormone leptin – the hormone which tells you when you're full – were lower across 24 hours, indicating participants may have felt hungrier. What's more, calories were being burned at a slower rate. The research team also observed that adipose tissue gene expression – which affects directly how your body stores fat:

  • increased the adipogenesis process that builds fat tissues, and

  • decreased the lipolysis process that breaks fat down.

What this study shows is that eating earlier in the day can impact key drivers of the way your body balances energy and the subsequent obesity risk. Change of eating times is definitely simpler for many people to manage than sticking to a diet or exercise regime.

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