When you eat dinner in the evening significantly affects the number of calories you burn during the day, your appetite and the adipose — or adipose — tissues in your body, according to a study by Harvard Medical School investigators at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
The study, published in the journal Cell Metabolism, found that eating late doubles the odds of feeling hungry, compared to eating early.
“Accumulating data suggests that eating earlier in the day is associated with lower body weight and improved success in weight loss,” said senior author Frank A. G. L. Sher, PhD, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and director of the Clinical Chronology Program. In Brigham and Women’s Hospital Boston for Fox News Digital.
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Cher, who is also a neuroscientist, said the study simultaneously looked at three mechanisms in the body that could explain the weight gain associated with eating late.
Previous studies have suggested that eating later is associated with an increased risk of obesity and reduced success with weight loss — and the team wanted to understand why, the researchers said.
“The three [mechanisms] It was regulating hunger, how many calories we burn and changes in our adipose tissue.”
The 16 study participants, he said, stayed in the lab to allow the investigators to control for other factors, such as how much and what the participants ate, their level of physical activity, sleep, environment temperature and light exposure – which might otherwise influence their measurements.
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“We found that late eating affects all three biological mechanisms, all in the direction that would promote weight gain,” Scheer said.
“Delayed eating increases hunger and appetite throughout the day (including related hormones), reduces the amount of calories burned throughout the day and alters molecular pathways in adipose tissue that promote fat growth.”
“We found that eating after four hours makes a huge difference to our hunger levels, the way we burn calories after eating and the way we store fat.”
“In this study, we asked, does the time we eat matter when everything else remains constant,” first author Nina Vogović, a researcher in the Clinical Biomedical Biology Program, said in a Harvard news release.
All 16 study participants had a BMI in the overweight or obese range — and followed specific laboratory protocols.
Each participant completed two different eating schedules: one that followed a strict early-meal schedule – and then the other eating the same meals but four hours into the day.
Two to three weeks before starting each of the meal regimens in the lab, participants followed a consistent sleep-wake schedule; Then, three days before entering the laboratory, the participants strictly followed an identical diet and meal schedules at home.
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“We found that eating after four hours makes a significant difference in hunger levels, the way we burn calories after eating, and the way we store fat,” Vogovich said in a news release.
Participants kept a record of their hunger and appetite, and the researchers took blood samples throughout the day, checked participants’ body temperature and measured their energy expenditure.
Researchers discovered how eating time affects the way the body stores fat by taking biopsies of participants’ adipose tissue during lab tests in both early and late eating protocols.
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Adipose tissue gene expression showed increased lipogenesis (fat storage) and decreased lipolysis (fat breakdown), which contributes to fat growth, according to the study.
Late eating had a significant impact on the body’s hormones, leptin and ghrelin, which control appetite and a person’s drive to eat.
The late eating participants also burned calories at a slower rate compared to the early eating schedule.
The investigators also said that late eating has a significant effect on body hormones, such as leptin and ghrelin, that control appetite and a person’s drive to eat.
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They noted that the hormone leptin, which signals to the body that you’re full after a meal, decreased for 24 hours on a late eating schedule, compared to early eating.
“This study shows the effect of late versus early eating. Here, we isolated these effects by controlling for confounding variables such as calorie intake, physical activity, sleep and light exposure—but in real life, many of these same factors may be influenced by meal timing,” he said. Cher.
Dr. Reshmi Srinath, MD, director of the Mount Sinai Weight Management and Metabolism Program at Mount Sinai Health System in New York City, was not part of the study but commented on it for Fox News Digital.
“This is a small but very well done study, supporting the need to avoid eating late at night given its effect on metabolism and hunger,” Srinath told Fox News Digital.
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“I generally advise patients to finish eating by 7:30-8pm and then leave the kitchen, so that they avoid over-snacks and extra calories at night,” said endocrinologist Srinath.
Laura Feldman, a registered dietitian and assistant professor of nutrition at Long Island University in Brockville, New York, was not involved in the study but told Fox News Digital that the results may be difficult to replicate during everyday life.
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“The study was highly controlled,” she said. “Participants remained in a laboratory setting for several days and all ate the same meals, engaged in the same level of physical activity and had a set sleep schedule.”
“This is very different from the ‘real world’ scenarios the average person would encounter on a daily basis.
Most people base their dietary decisions on many factors beyond meal timing — including finances, work schedules, food access, stress, and mental health status.
Feldman said that most people base their dietary decisions on many factors beyond meal timing.
These factors include finances, work schedules, access to food, stress and mental health status.
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“It is unclear whether these findings will still apply to some people, including night-shift employees,” she told Fox News Digital.
The researchers acknowledge the challenge of real-life scenarios and eating schedules.
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“In studies on a larger scale, where strict control of all of these factors is not feasible, we should at least consider how other behavioral and environmental variables alter these biological pathways underlying obesity risk,” Scheer said in a press release.
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