Are You A Late Night Eater? Here’s Why You Might Want to Stop
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
As we become more knowledgeable about our diets and eating habits, it’s evident that maintaining good health is not just about what we eat but also about when we eat. Timing is important. When we eat may even be a contributing factor as to why nearly 42 percent of Americans are obese.
A recent study conducted by researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital and published in the research journal Cell Metabolism, examined the effects of eating late “on the three main players in body weight regulation and thus obesity risk,” according to this Medical Xpress report that discusses the study.
These three main players are:
- Regulation of calories consumed
- Number of calories burned
- Molecular changes in fat tissue
"Previous research by us and others had shown that late eating is associated with increased obesity risk, increased body fat, and impaired weight loss success. We wanted to understand why," said Dr. Frank A.J.L. Scheer, senior author of the study.
The research team wanted to know if the time we eat matters if everything else is kept the same.
"And we found that eating four hours later makes a significant difference for our hunger levels, the way we burn calories after we eat, and the way we store fat," said Dr. Nina Vujović, another author on the study.
The study involved 16 people who all had a body mass index (BMI) that fell within the overweight or obesity range. Each participant followed both an early eating schedule and a later eating schedule (which was four hours later than the early eating schedule). Keep in mind that the type of food consumed was kept the same.
“Results revealed that eating later had profound effects on hunger and appetite-regulating hormones leptin and ghrelin, which influence our drive to eat,” according to Medical Xpress.
“Specifically, levels of the hormone leptin, which signals satiety, were decreased across the 24 hours in the late eating condition compared to the early eating conditions.”
Furthermore, those who ate later did not burn calories as fast and a biopsy of their fat tissue showed that they had decreased lipolysis (the breakdown of fat).
If you are someone who tends to eat dinner around 9 or 10pm and you struggle with your weight, try to adjust and eat no later than 7pm. I know it can be difficult, especially if you have commitments after work. For example, some people try to fit workouts in around dinner time. Might I suggest meal prepping in advance and try getting your workouts in earlier? You can also do post dinner walks to encourage weight loss. Experiment and see what works for you.
Of course, there is so much more to maintaining a healthy weight than what time of day we eat. The holidays are quickly approaching, so now is really the time to be proactive and prepare for all of the indulgent food that will be coming at us in high volumes.
Check out this pH Labs blog to see how you can be proactive and get through the holidays without packing on the pounds.
Pay close attention to the following nutrients. A deficiency in any of these may be preventing you from losing weight.
- Magnesium. This nutrient is one of the major minerals inside our bodies’ cells. Outside of the cells, it is an important cofactor for hundreds of processes and reactions in the body, including energy. Studies with rats have shown that a low magnesium level can slow down growth of lean body mass (muscle and bone building) and promote an increase in body fat. Some healthcare professionals also believe that people with low magnesium tend to have high blood sugar. Dietary sources of magnesium include leafy green vegetables (like spinach), legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
- Phosphorus. People who are overweight or obese tend to have high-carb diets (including processed, nutrient void carbs like white rice, white bread, pasta and sweets). And one theory is that high-carb diets increase insulin release, which creates a reaction that consumes a lot of phosphorus. This could mean the phosphorus in the body isn’t available to do other reactions in the body, like burn off food. This low metabolism gets mistranslated to the body as “not enough food,” which may cause us to eat more. Supporting this theory is that high levels of phosphorus in the body are linked with lower body weight. You can eat salmon, yogurt, turkey (light meat), chicken (light meat), beef, lentils, almonds, peanuts and eggs for dietary sources of phosphorus.
- Iron. This mineral may be critical for the energy you need to increase your physical activity. Iron is needed to make hemoglobin, a component of your red blood cells that delivers oxygen to all the cells in your body. Without adequate iron, your body can’t carry enough oxygen to your vital organs. Low iron levels may leave you feeling quite tired. So you can probably imagine that if you have low iron, you may not feel up to going to the gym and working out (which along with diet, is key in weight loss). Furthermore, excess weight appears to be associated with iron deficiency. One study reported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggested that the treatment of iron deficiency anemia induced weight loss and improved metabolic parameters. To learn about foods that are rich in iron, click here.
- B vitamins. There is some evidence that non-optimal levels of vitamin B12 may increase the likelihood of obesity. B vitamins are also important for the maintenance of the adequate energy levels you will need to complete any weight loss program. You can eat sunflower seeds, avocados, salmon, corn, broccoli, mushrooms, cauliflower and yogurt to get more of B vitamins in your daily diet.
- Water. There is credible evidence that increased hydration is associated with reduced body weight. So inadequate water intake may affect our ability to lose weight.
You can test for any nutritional deficiencies or imbalances with a comprehensive nutrient test. If you are deficient or imbalanced (and, honestly, many of us are), a competent healthcare professional can work with you regarding making the necessary dietary changes and taking quality supplements if necessary.
Enjoy your healthy life!
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice. Please consult with your doctor or another competent healthcare practitioner to get specific medical advice for your situation.
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses, and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products, and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.