Working overtime or getting home past midnight after a few rounds of margs with your coworkers is a recipe for a nighttime meal disaster. In fact, munching when the moon’s out may be worse for your waistline than you think. A new study conducted by researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania discovered that eating later at night rather than during the day can up your chances of falling victim to weight gain as well as rising insulin, fasting glucose, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels—which are precursors to a slew of avoidable ailments.
To come to this finding, nine healthy weight adults consumed their meals during the day, between 8 AM and 7 PM, for eight weeks and spent another eight weeks eating from 12 PM to 11 PM. All of the participants slept from 11 PM to 9 AM during both eating conditions. The researchers measured weight, metabolism, and energy used both before and after the experiment to note any changes.
The team discovered that not only did the late-night eaters’ weight increase, but they also metabolized more carbs than lipids (fat). Additionally, because daytime eaters’ appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin peaked earlier while satiating leptin peaked later in the day, researchers believe that eating while the sun’s out can possibly prevent overeating past your toddler’s bedtime.
"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," said the study’s senior author, Kelly Allison, PhD, an associate professor of psychology in Psychiatry and director of the Center for Weight and Eating Disorders. "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. "So next time you hear your tummy grumbling under the sheets, go for a low-cal healthy snack like air-popped popcorn or reach for this #1 Best Thing To Eat For Better Sleep.