Does the time of day we consume food have an impact on our weight? Does eating later in the day really stop our bodies from burning off as many calories as an early feast?
Most diet and health advice is broadly based on the assumption that a calorie is a calorie - a unit of energy we consume and we burn. More and more evidence based research is starting to show that our bodies actually use calories more efficiently when they are consumed in the morning, rather than the evening. Could this help create a strategy for long term weight loss?
"It all comes back to our basic internal rhythms. Our natural sleep-wake cycle of a 24 hour period also includes nature's best time to eat certain foods and consume certain amounts of calories," explains our in-house nutritionist, Natasha. "This internal cycle tells us when we need to sleep and it regulates our body's general processes, including digestion, our metabolism and our appetite regulation. Our body knows when to secrete certain hunger hormones to tell us to eat, based on what and when we eat, what our physical activity levels are like and what time of day it is. That is how and why the jab works so effectively for hunger because it mimics a natural hormone already in our bodies, which satiates (suppresses) our hunger."
However, this internal rhythm can be altered by eating or exercising at abnormal times of the day. Changing this rhythm can impact our physical and mental health, and even our immune system! It can affect our levels of circulating insulin, leptin, cortisol and other appetite hormones.
The changes to these hunger hormones can increase appetite whilst decreasing energy levels, leading to a craving for more calories to replenish our energy but less energy to actually exercise or move to burn calories. A lose-lose situation which is further compounded by a longer-term change and slow-down of our metabolism!!
A recent study by a British physiological & behaviour team found that timing of eating is a significant contributor to body weight regulation. The researchers found that eating more calories in the morning would improve body weight by reducing the need for your brain to believe it needs more energy & calories later in the day.
"There is an age old saying - breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper. A lot of research points to a large, substantial breakfast with your natural complex carbs with reduced portions at lunch and dinner can aid effective long term weight loss. Whilst intermittent fasting can be great for initial weight loss, the long term effects are still unknown and unless you can continue fasting in the same method for the rest of your life, your natural rhythm will return and so may the weight" explains Natasha.
Sensible, sustainable and well-timed calorie intake seems to be the most researched and the best evidenced approach to losing weight and regulating your metabolism. New research continues to come in every week and we will of course post the latest and evidence-based news.
Thanks for reading,
The Slim Transformation Team
0330 311 0008