Why Your Stomach Asks What Time It Is

Given the fact that we have been eating for as long as we have existed and modern society focuses so much on weight control, you would think we would have our “system” down on the meal issue.  We do tend towards 3 meals a day even if we have different names for them and different exact times in different cultures.  The question of timing is not as much under human control when the next meal depends on when the next animal is captured.  Yet in our modern society, the overabundance of food (although often of low quality), means we can choose when we eat a lot easier than past centuries were able to do.  There did seem to be effects on when those meals were eaten but scientists need objective proof so some Vanderbilt researchers did a study.

By closely monitoring the metabolic functions of actual humans during variations in the timing of their meals, they determined that “late night eating” slows the burning of fat with potential implications for weight loss and gain.  Rather than the overly simplified concept of basing weight loss solely on calories eaten versus calories burned, there is truth in that late-night eating can make fat burning more inefficient.

In the study, the human subjects were fed the same meals at lunch and supper.  They fed some the same third meal at breakfast (8am) and some in the evening before bed (10 pm).  For those receiving their third meal just before med, they were slower at burning lipids (fats).

With all the hype about intermittent fasting going around, this functional MD would advise caution.   Good research does support intermittent fasting in which individuals go 16-18 hours per day without eating (thus eating 2 meals in the remaining 6-8 hour window each day).  This research could be extrapolated to indicate a late-night cheat snack could undo the fat burning benefits.  For those on the night shift as I once did for a few years, it may explain why many night shift workers feel like they either put on a few pounds or can’t get rid of them.

Regardless of whether you are the night owl or considering the latest diet trends, keep this factor in mind so you can discern the best means of caring for your health.  At Sanctuary this will serve as another tool to discern the best course of health restoration for our patients.


Original Ariticle:

Kevin Parsons Kelly, Owen P. McGuinness, Maciej Buchowski, Jacob J. Hughey, Heidi Chen, James Powers, Terry Page, Carl Hirschie Johnson. Eating breakfast and avoiding late-evening snacking sustains lipid oxidation. PLOS Biology, 2020; 18 (2): e3000622 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3000622

Thanks to Science Daily:

PLOS. “When should you eat to manage your weight? Breakfast, not late-night snacks.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 February 2020. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/02/200228125230.htm>.

Sanctuary Functional Medicine, under the direction of Dr Eric Potter, IFMCP MD, provides functional medicine services to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and beyond. We frequently treat patients from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and more... offering the hope of healthier more abundant lives to those with chronic illness.

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