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Timing meals later at night can cause weight gain, impair fat metabolism

“Eating later can promote a negative profile of weight, energy, and hormone markers — such as higher glucose and insulin, which are implicated in diabetes, and cholesterol and triglycerides, which are linked with cardiovascular problems and other health conditions.”

New findings suggest eating late at night could be more dangerous than you think. Compared to eating earlier in the day, prolonged delayed eating can increase weight, insulin and cholesterol levels, and negatively affect fat metabolism, and hormonal markers implicated in heart disease, diabetes and other health problems, according to results from researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, United States.

The findings offer the first experimental evidence on the metabolic consequences of consistent delayed eating compared to daytime eating, and will be presented at SLEEP 2017, the 31st Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC (APSS), on Sunday, June 4.

“We know from our sleep loss studies that when you’re sleep deprived, it negatively affects weight and metabolism in part due to late-night eating, but now these early findings, which control for sleep, give a more comprehensive picture of the benefits of eating earlier in the day,” said Namni Goel, PhD, a research associate professor of psychology in Psychiatry in the division of Sleep and Chronobiology, and lead author of the ongoing study.

“Eating later can promote a negative profile of weight, energy, and hormone markers — such as higher glucose and insulin, which are implicated in diabetes, and cholesterol and triglycerides, which are linked with cardiovascular problems and other health conditions.”

In the study, nine healthy weight adults underwent two conditions, one of daytime eating (i.e., three meals and two snacks between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m.) for eight weeks and another of delayed eating (i.e., three meals and two snacks eating from noon to 11 p.m.) for eight weeks. There was a two-week washout period between conditions to make sure there was no carry over effect. The sleep period was held constant, between 11 p.m. to 9 a.m.

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