Conventionally, there has been a simple theory of weight fluctuations. It’s the “calories in, calories out theory”, which states that weight gain is caused when the calorie consumption is higher than the calories used. However, like any other science, nothing is ever this simple. Hence, recent studies reveal that time could also play a significant role in weight gain.
The relationship between time and weight gain
A recently published study explained that eating dinner at later times could lead to weight gain and higher blood sugar levels. Other studies have also suggested that eating late can influence obesity. However, Dr. Jonathan C. Jun, Associate Professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University, said that their research attempted to look into the theory to see if this leads to changes in metabolism causing obesity.
Hence, they began a randomized clinically controlled trial, where all participants were healthy and intaking meals at two distinct times. Their diet and sleeping routines were very well monitored as well.
The study was conducted on 20 participants, 10 male, and 10 female, and aimed to recognize changes in metabolism when dinner was taken at 10 p.m. as opposed to 6 p.m. The sleeping time was 11 p.m. and fixed. Recent studies have shown that eating late could increase blood sugar levels, and reduce the amount of at burnt.
This study, however, concluded that eating dinner late caused about 20 percent higher blood sugar levels, and a 10 percent reduction in the amount of fat burned, in comparison to participants who ate earlier. The study’s author explained that these results could be more recognizable in obese or diabetic individuals, with compromised metabolism.
The intriguing part about this research is that all participants reacted differently to eating meals late, with differing vulnerability. The study’s author explained that it was difficult for participants who sleep early, to eat this late. However, participants who are accustomed to late-night routines didn’t seem to be influenced by the change in their dinner time. Hence, there is room for consideration for the changes in metabolism that can influence their vulnerability.
This study was intricate, with activity tracks, blood samples, sleep studies, and body fat scans. Every aspect was measured and studied. Jun displayed confidence that time played a significant role in comparison to diet when it comes to weight loss. Researchers concluded that time plays a significant role in weight gain, irrespective of the calorie intake.
So what changes are needed?
Lisa K. Diewald, program manager at MacDonald Center for Obesity Prevention and Education at Villanova University, suggested small, high protein snacks in the afternoon if the individual is running late and is unable to eat dinner on time. This helps to diminish the appetite for a while if dinner is delayed. Different choices could include greek yogurt, a salad with grilled chicken, soup, sandwiches, and fruit, etc. Furthermore, aiming for breakfast or lunch to be the larger meals, in the case of a late dinner, would be recommended. Hence, it is important to take care of the timing of meals, when aiming for weight loss.