Study: Late Night Eating Linked To Weight Gain, Impaired Fat Metabolism

Fitness-minded people have long known that eating late at night can have an effect on your health and weight loss. But a recent study indicates that it may even be dangerous as previously expected. Delayed eating has lead to an increase of weight, insulin as well as cholesterol levels. It can also negatively impact fat metabolism and promote the presence of hormonal markers that are linked to heart disease, diabetes, and a host of other health problems.

The findings of the study offer the first experimental evidence of how late night eating can affect the metabolism as compared to day eating. Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania conducted a study involving nine healthy weight adults. The participants were made to undergo either of two conditions- daytime eating, which includes eating three meals and two snacks from 8 am to 7 pm or late night eating, which includes three meals and two snacks eaten from noon to 11 pm. The participants followed the schedule for a period of eight weeks.

There was also a two-week wash out period before participants changed to the other eating condition. This is to ensure that there was no carry over effect. The sleep schedule remained constant from 11 pm to 9 am. The participants also visited the Penn’s Center for Human Phenomic Science to get their metabolic measures and have their blood tested at the beginning of the study, after the daytime eating period, after the two week washout, and after the delayed eating condition. This allowed the researchers to check any changes in weight, metabolism, energy consumption and more.

The researchers noticed that if the participants ate meals later in the night, their weight increased. Analyzing the data also indicated that the body, when following this later eating schedule, were metabolizing fewer lipids and more carbohydrates. The data also showed an increase in insulin, cholesterol, fasting glucose,  and levels of triglycerides.

Moreover, the researchers found that in daytime eating, the hormone called ghrelin, which stimulates one’s appetite, peaked sometime early in the daytime. Leptin, which is a hormone that makes people feel satisfied with what they eat, peaked at a later part ¬†during the day. This indicates that eating earlier can prevent people from overeating at night which can lead to weight gain.

According to Kelly Allison, PhD, an associate professor of psychology in Psychiatry and director of the Center for Weight and Eating Disorders 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.”

Kelly Allison, who is also the senior author of the said study, added, “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.”

Source: Science Daily