When We Eat Matters
We are busy! Competing for our time is a constant stream of notifications, emails, and texts, endless errands, work and family. Matching the hectic pace of living means that we might have bad eating habits.
A growing body of research suggests that our bodies function optimally when we align our eating patterns with our circadian rhythms, the internal 24-hour cycles that tell our bodies when to wake up, when to eat, when to fall asleep. Studies show that chronically disrupting this rhythm — by eating late meals or nibbling on midnight snacks, for example — could be a recipe for weight gain and metabolic trouble.
Scientists have long known that the human body has a master clock, located in the hypothalamus, that governs our sleep-wake cycles based on light exposure. A couple of decades ago, researchers discovered that every organ has an internal clock that governs its daily cycle of activity.
As your circadian rhythm applies to eating, most of the evidence in humans suggests that consuming the bulk of your food earlier in the day is better for your health. Many studies have demonstrated that blood sugar control is best in the morning and at its worst in the evening. We burn more calories and digest food more efficiently in the morning as well.
What does all this mean? Well, you may heard the advice that you should eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper. Eating more calories during daylight hours when your body is better able to process it and eating less after daylight hours when your body is preparing for sleep.
If you are trying to lose weight, skipping meals or eating too few calories earlier in the day appears to stack the odds against you. More and more research points to the fact that when you front-load your calories—meaning eat more calories early—you have a much better chance of shedding pounds. Those who do so feel more satiated in the evening.
One study following overweight women with metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions including increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels. The results suggested that the timing of calories and carbs mattered more than the total number of calories and carbs eaten in a day.
Bottom line: For better health don’t skip breakfast, eat more calories early in the day, including snacks, and eat a lighter meal in the evening. To read more about front loading calories and weight loss, visit Science Daily.